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Ferris Rates Well in Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program `Value-Added' Rankings

Ferris State UniversityFerris State University measured well in comparison to statewide peer institutions in a recent “value-added” study that was released in late April by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

The Brookings Institution study focused on how well colleges and universities prepare students for high-paying careers. The report was titled “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two and Four-Year Schools.” Jonathan Rothwell, a Brookings fellow, and Siddharth Kulkarni, a senior research assistant, put together the report – believed to be unique in its “value-added” measurements for two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

The value-added model reflects differences between predicted and actual student economic outcomes for college and university graduates.

“The Brookings Institution research affirms the work of our faculty and staff, the value of our degrees and the achievement of our graduates,” said David L. Eisler, who is in his 12th year as president of Ferris. “An education at Ferris is formulated on the concept that we are a place where theory meets practice. This important difference prepares graduates not only to succeed but more importantly to excel. It is wonderful to see this validated in this national study.”

Ferris performed well in the three economic outcome measurements: Mid-career earnings of the typical graduate, for those who have worked at least 10 years; occupational earnings power of the typical graduate, a measure of career prospects; and loan repayment rate of the typical graduate, a measure of economic self-sufficiency.

In mid-career earnings of the typical graduate, Ferris alumni had predicted mid-career earnings of $64,476 in contrast to actual mid-career earnings of $76,800. That ranked Ferris third in Michigan. That represents a value-added difference of plus-17 percent for Ferris alumni. Ferris scored 78 on a scale of one to 100. The scores “are centile ranks. They range from 1 to 100, with 100 indicating the highest centile, or top 1 percent of all 2-or 4-year colleges.” In occupational earnings power of the typical graduate, alumni reported $64,168 in actual occupational earnings power in comparison to $61,789 predicted for a difference of 3.8 percent. Ferris alumni scored 2.6 percentage points higher than predicted in “loan repayment rate of the typical graduate.”

Some of the value added success can be attributed to the university’s strength in curriculum in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as “x-factors” such as quality of faculty instruction and students with strong ambition and focus.

Brookings compiled a blend of government and private data from LinkedIn and Payscale. Report analysis indicated:

  • A college’s mix of majors and the skills it provides students are highly predictive of economic outcomes for its graduates. Colleges where many students pursue degrees in fields like engineering, healthcare, computer science, and business see higher earnings among their alumni; and
  • Colleges can boost economic outcomes for students by encouraging higher completion rates and offering generous financial aid.

“These college-specific data can be used to learn about, evaluate, and improve college performance,” Rothwell said in a news release that summarized the study. “Colleges serve very diverse populations. The advantage of measuring value-added is that it adjusts a school’s rankings based on the type of college and the characteristics of its student body.”

The Brookings Institution study authors differentiate their value-added findings from other popular studies through a focus on how colleges and universities “contribute to student economic success, rather than simply their ability to attract top students.” The authors further believe that their study goes beyond the more conventional rankings and better addresses desire for more transparency and accountability from higher-education institutions.

“College is a major investment for individuals and the taxpayers who subsidize it,” Rothwell said. “So, the public has a huge stake in promoting quality. No ratings system can capture everything about a college that matters, but these data can shed some light on how colleges compare in their contributions to student success and, hopefully, spark further research with even better data.”

The Brookings study was made public on Wednesday, April 29.