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What is the best college for you?

The published lists of best colleges in the nation are relatively unchanged from year to year—at the top are the prestigious, expensive, often research-heavy and well-endowed institutions, the ones that many aspire to and that all others are often compared to. But does the best college for you necessarily rank high on the list? Wouldn’t it be better to ask which college education would have the greatest impact on your future employment prospects and earnings? That is an entirely different perspective, as a recently published report from the Brookings Institution points out. http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/04/29-beyond-college-rankings-rothwell-kulkarni
There are two things that are particularly interesting about the report. First, the authors include in their assessment not only 4-year colleges, but 2-year colleges also. That’s interesting to us because many of our students who are college bound often begin their careers at a 2-year college. They then have the option of completing their associate’s degree or transferring to a 4-year institution. And second, the authors adopt a value-added approach. By comparing the predicted earnings outcomes of students before they begin college with earnings after graduation, they determine how much value that college education contributed. And what they point out is that going to a college or university high in the traditional rankings might not improve your outcome materially compared with going to a less expensive and even less prestigious one. This is particularly true when you consider that what you study and major in is often more important than where you study. The authors point out that those who major in STEM areas tend to have strong outcomes in terms of earnings and future prospects regardless which college they attend.

Village Glen supports bright, engaged students who often have interests in STEM, but also in music, painting, the dramatic arts, and cartoon animation. STEM3 Academy, on the other hand, has a curriculum designed specifically to support and develop students’ natural abilities and skills in STEM areas, with course offerings including Engineering Design, Robotics, Digital Design and Programming, as well as AP classes in Calculus and Computer Science. The curricula at both schools are designed to contribute a large additional value to the student’s prospects, to boost college and career aspirations far beyond what would have otherwise been possible. We agree that a 2-year college is often sufficient, given career aspirations, to make a huge difference to the student’s outcome. For those who are STEM-inclined, STEM3 Academy will provide them a solid grounding in those areas. For those who have other inclinations, such as music performance and sound production, media arts, and dramatic arts, Village Glen will provide a solid grounding that will similarly lead to a strong college education and career. By providing a firm foundation and learning that has at its heart collaboration and critical thinking, presentations and performance, we aim to set our students on a path towards enduring success regardless of their choice of college, and whether they attend Village Glen or STEM3 Academy.

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