Steinhaus: Measuring A College’s Value

By KURT STEINHAUS, Superintendent
Los Alamos Public Schools

This is the time of year when many Los Alamos High School parents of juniors and seniors receive an onslaught of advertisements from colleges and universities all over the country.

Many will be attending the RMACAC College Fair in Albuquerque this coming Sunday and just in the next two weeks more than two dozen colleges and universities will be sending representatives to our high school to meet with students and parents. See the LAHS website for the times and dates.

Deciding on the best choice for your student can be daunting and overwhelming. Parents are filled with questions like: the fear of which school my student can get into, the skyrocketing costs, the best fit for my child? It is tension-filled for many and stressful at best.

There are plenty of lists that rank which colleges produce the highest earners, lists that indicate the percent of graduates from certain colleges who get into medical school or get jobs immediately out of their under graduate studies.

Until now, however, there has been little research about what colleges produce students who are satisfied with their college experience, who gain personal fulfillment as well as complete a degree and go on to enjoy their employment and find life satisfaction.

Recently, Purdue University joined forces with the Gallup organization and have surveyed more than 60,000 graduates to gather information from an interesting perspective. As reported by Frank Bruni, in a New York Times Op-Ed, the outcomes on this research, “…challenge conventional wisdom, especially about the power of an elite school to put its alumni on a guaranteed path to success. The index measures success not in dollars and lofty job titles but in graduates’ engagement in their employment and, separately, their assessments of their own well-being, as determined by their reported satisfaction with five dimensions of life: their relationships, their physical health, their community, their economic situation and their sense of purpose.”

I encourage you to read the recent New York Times article. It may expand your thinking on possibilities for your child. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/13/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-how-to-measure-a-colleges-value.html?mwrsm=Email

For example, I learned from this article that exposure to diversity had discernible upsides but no obvious downsides. The earlier article can shed light on the college application process, too. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-how-to-survive-the-college-admissions-madness.html

My hope is that these articles help ease your mind about the possibilities of colleges to attend. I want to encourage our LAHS graduates to find success and satisfaction in as many ways and places as there are students.

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