Happy New Year to all! We’re in the middle of Bethel’s J-term, which is intensive enough that we won’t try to do a lot of blogging until the spring semester starts in February. But we did want to draw your attention to a new study from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, “Ranking ROI of 4,500 US Colleges and Universities.”

Georgetown ROI Report cover

ROI — or “return on investment” — is an increasingly popular term in higher ed, as prospective students and their families try to quantify the value of an educational experience that is increasingly expensive and often requires significant borrowing. So the Georgetown researchers looked at over four thousand American institutions of higher learning, compiled data on everything from graduation rates and net price to graduates’ earnings and loan repayment rates, and calculated the “net present value” (NPV) of what graduates could expect to earn over forty years.

Here are the results for Bethel, which is in the top 20% nationally for 40-year NPV. (Note the “average age of entry” is 24, so the study presumably includes data from Bethel’s adult undergraduate programs, not just the College of Arts and Sciences that houses the History Department.)

Bethel's results for Georgetown study of return on investment

As the study’s primary author, Anthony Carnevale, pointed out to the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), the long-term ROI for liberal arts colleges like Bethel is close to that of the country’s leading research universities, which offer more advanced professional programs. In part, that’s because liberal arts schools have done better at trying to connect students to careers, where skills honed in the liberal arts (e.g., writing, research, critical thinking) will serve graduates well over the many changes that will happen in their decades in the workforce. (Tellingly, Bethel’s value rank grows steadily as the length of career advances.) “Employers are looking for employees who can advance in the profession, not just entry-level work,” Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, told the Chronicle.

Of course, dollar figures can only start to capture the full value of a Christian liberal arts education in general, or a history degree in particular. But if you have been doubting the economic wisdom of choosing this model of education, these data should be reassuring.

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