Two key questions from the daily survey asked participants to rate the relevance of their courses:
1. You learned important skills during your college courses that you use in your day-to-day life.
2. The courses you took are directly relevant to what you do at work.

1. Relevance influences value and quality. The more relevant that people find their courses to be in their work and daily lives, the greater their belief that they received a high-quality education and that it was worth the cost. This pattern holds true for individuals across all walks of life. In fact, consumers who strongly agree their courses are relevant to their careers and lives are:
• 63 percentage points more likely to strongly agree their education was worth the cost.
• 50 percentage points more likely to strongly agree they received a high-quality education.

2. Relevance is related to well-being. Consumers who strongly agree their courses are relevant to their current careers and lives are 18 percentage points more likely to be “thriving” in their overall sense of well-being.

“These implications for the importance of relevance are powerful as they demonstrate another dimension of value that higher education provides to individuals, communities and our nation,” according to the report. “This is vital during a time when many in higher education are challenged to demonstrate their value in ways that resonate with all stakeholders.”

3. Relevance is a far more powerful predictor of consumer ratings of educational quality and cost value than other important demographic characteristics. This includes gender, race/ethnicity, age, income, and type of postsecondary education experience (courses but no degree, or two-year, four-year, post-graduate, or professional degrees).

4. Relevance explains two and three times more variance in consumer ratings of quality and value, respectively, than public data widely used to create college and university rankings. Relevance scores are more powerful predictors of consumer satisfaction than average SAT/ACT math scores, student loan default rates, average cost of attendance, a measure of alumni income earnings, and graduation rates.

Part two in the report series will examine the predictive power of relevance across the spectrum of individual pathways, fields of study, occupations, and experiences. Part three will engage leaders in the field to identify implications and solutions that will allow us to meet education consumers where they are and deliver high-quality, high-value, and life outcomes.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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