Monday, June 28, 2010

Student Financial Aid reform- monetizing majors

The Chronicle of Higher Education has started a new blog about innovations in higher ed, and includes some big time names in the higher ed policy world.  And I read this and try to interpret larger policy issues about higher Ed for relevance to the arts higher ed world.

Here's one that touched off a thought- There has been an idea floating around for centuries about the concept of investing in students.  So an entity pays for (as an investment) a student's education, and that student agrees to a garnishment on their wages for a set time to pay it off.  In the 1600's this was called "indentured servitude". 

The link above talks about how fine arts and history majors would not have as large a return on investment as say a business or engineering major. So bigger investments in "safer" majors, and perhaps smaller investments in acting majors.  But if you invested in Tom Hanks when he was at Cal State-Sacramento, HUGE return!

This thought is an interesting one, and while we pretty much do this (find me any alumni with student loans that DOESN'T feel like an indentured student), it once again raises the question of value and differentiating values in different fields of study. 

Are future earnings, the ONLY value of a bachelor degree?  Of course not. But that's the metric that gets tossed around ALOT. 

Student satisfaction changes as they see the degree they attained through the lens of years and experience.  How do we really measure what a degree is worth?  I can appreciate much of my music performance degree, and I recognize the parts that didn't help or were detrimental.  But how many of us can point to an exact metric of what their degree is worth?

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