Research: Students value college, but not for the reasons you’d think

By Lisa Malat
September 7th, 2016

Bigger paychecks and school reputation score lower with students than a meaningful college experience, according to "Value of College" research..


With the cost of a college education uppermost in the minds of students and their parents, the actual value of college, and even how you might begin to measure it, increasingly has come under scrutiny. If conventional thinking is that higher education represents a means to an end and a way to accelerate a student’s post-college earning potential, then that view is counter to new research conducted by our company, Barnes & Noble College, and Money.

Encompassing responses from more than 3,000 current college students, their parents, as well as parents of graduates, our “Value of College” survey represents one of the most comprehensive looks into college student expectations.

The Value of College report reveals that the current generation of college students have distinct views on the value of their educational experience that go far beyond their grade point average. To me, it sends a strong message to our company and schools about the key factors students use in selecting a school and, perhaps just as importantly, why they choose to leave.

Looking at student responses on the whole, it may stand to reason that the survey tells us that less expensive schools deliver as much or more perceived value and benefits as more expensive ones. While cost is clearly a major driver (63 percent of students say they eliminated some colleges for consideration due to cost; 55 percent for parents), and the quality of academics definitely matters, equally important are student/faculty collaboration and social fit.

(Next page: Value of College research results; responding to what students say they value)

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