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Metrics That Matter

Counting What's Really Important to College Students

Zachary Bleemer, Mukul Kumar, Aashish Mehta, Chris Muellerleile, and Christopher Newfield

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Colleges sell themselves by the numbers—rankings, returns on investments, and top-ten lists—but these often mislead prospective students. What numbers should they really be paying attention to?

High school and college students are inundated by indicators and rankings supposedly designed to help them decide where to go to college and what to study once they arrive. In Metrics That Matter, coauthors Zachary Bleemer, Mukul Kumar, Aashish Mehta, Chris Muellerleile, and Christopher Newfield take a critical look at these metrics and find that many of the most popular ones are confusing, misleading…

Colleges sell themselves by the numbers—rankings, returns on investments, and top-ten lists—but these often mislead prospective students. What numbers should they really be paying attention to?

High school and college students are inundated by indicators and rankings supposedly designed to help them decide where to go to college and what to study once they arrive. In Metrics That Matter, coauthors Zachary Bleemer, Mukul Kumar, Aashish Mehta, Chris Muellerleile, and Christopher Newfield take a critical look at these metrics and find that many of the most popular ones are confusing, misleading, and—most importantly—easily replaceable by more helpful alternatives.

Metrics That Matter explores popular metrics used by future and current college students, with chapters focusing on colleges' return on investment, university rankings, average student debt, average wages by college major, and more. Written for students, their families, and the counselors who advise them, each chapter explains a common metric's fundamental flaws when used as a basis for making important educational decisions. The authors then draw on decades of scholarship from many academic fields to pair each metric with a concrete recommendation for alternative information, both qualitative and quantitative, that would be more useful and meaningful for students to consider. They emphasize that students should be thinking beyond solely using metrics when making college decisions—students should focus on their intellectual and academic education goals, not just vocational or monetary ones.

Students' reliance on certain metrics has skewed universities away from providing high-quality education and distorted the perception of higher education's purpose, overemphasizing private financial returns over the broader economic and social benefits of universities. This book aims to facilitate important student decisions while reorienting public perceptions of higher education's values and how universities should measure their own success.

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Metrics That Matter

Zachary Bleemer, Mukul Kumar, Aashish Mehta, Chris Muellerleile, and Christopher Newfield

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Reviews

A brilliant analysis and a much-needed corrective to the runaway power of college rankings and other metrics. The authors present a forensic analysis of school metrics, why they are flawed, the consequences of these metrics for students and institutions, and the alternative data that could be used by prospective students. This book will help students and their families navigate the quagmire of partial and misleading metrics to make more informed choices.

Families trying to make decisions about college are deluged with data and statistics—some of it good, some of it questionable, all of it bewildering. Metrics that Matter cuts through the noise, using the tools of economics to help families make sense of some of the hardest questions teenagers face today: where to apply to college, what to study when you get there, and whether it's worth going to college at all.

Rankings and ratings are not natural facts, yet it is often hard to see the methods and values that generate them. Enter this extraordinary book, which explains how metrics measuring higher education today come to be, the stratifications they reproduce, the values they promulgate, and what they diminish. This volume is essential for students, parents, faculty, administrators and anyone concerned with an educated citizenry.

This is the book anybody needing help deciding if and where they or their children should go to college needs to read. And that is pretty much everybody.

About

Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
200
ISBN
9781421445731
Illustration Description
1 b&w photo, 14 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Abstract
Introduction
1. Return on Investment
2. University Rankings
3. Selectivity
4. Tuition Sticker Prices
5. Student Debt
6. Average Wages by College Major
7. Access to My Preferred Major
Conclusion

Abstract
Introduction
1. Return on Investment
2. University Rankings
3. Selectivity
4. Tuition Sticker Prices
5. Student Debt
6. Average Wages by College Major
7. Access to My Preferred Major
Conclusion: Metrics and Waste
Author's Note
Bibliography
Notes
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Zachary Bleemer

Zachary Bleemer (NEW HAVEN, CT) is an assistant professor of economics at the Yale School of Management and a research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley.
Featured Contributor

Mukul Kumar

Mukul Kumar (IRVINE, CA) is an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy at UC Irvine.
Featured Contributor

Aashish Mehta

Aashish Mehta (SANTA BARBARA, CA) is an associate professor of global studies at UC Santa Barbara.
Featured Contributor

Chris Muellerleile

Chris Muellerleile (SWANSEA, WALES) is a senior lecturer of geography at Swansea University.
Featured Contributor

Christopher Newfield

Christopher Newfield (LONDON, UK) is the director of research at the Independent Social Research Foundation and was formerly a distinguished professor of literature and American studies at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them.