INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) A website has been launched that’s intended to help people make informed decisions about pursuing higher education in Indiana.
The Indiana College Value Index provides information compiled from all Indiana public college campuses with measurements of the benefits and outcomes of pursuing a degree at each institution.
“We are the first state to measure college value in a way that goes beyond the numbers to show not just how well our campuses are doing but also how they can do better,” Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said. “The Indiana College Value Index does this by bringing together both quantitative and qualitative information, providing a more complete view of higher education performance and value.”
The Indiana College Value Index focuses on three areas aligned to the state’s strategic plan for higher education, called Reaching Higher, Delivering Value: Completion, Competency and Career. The index combines quantitative data from the Commission’s College Completion Report and Return on Investment Report with qualitative information from the Gallup-Indiana Alumni Survey as well as examples provided by the colleges.
Some of the takeaways of the initiative were highlighted in a press release issued Wednesday:
- Indiana outperforms and outpaces the nation on key measures of college value. Indiana college graduates report higher levels of well-being compared to national averages in all surveyed categories. Indiana outperforms the national average for on-time completion by over two percentage points as well as for extended (six-year) completion by nearly five percentage points. Finally, Indiana college students are less likely to take out student loans than their peers (61 percent in Indiana compared to 69 percent nationally).
- College pays financially and increases overall well-being. Within five years, graduates from over 85 percent of degree programs typically earn salaries that exceed the state median ($32,500). Furthermore, more than half of Indiana college graduates indicate they are “thriving” in four out of five measures of well-being: purpose, community, financial and social. (Physical well-being tested the lowest, with over half of graduates indicating they were “struggling.”)
- Student choices and engagement matter more than where they attend college. Regardless of where students go to college, the data show that short-term and long-term satisfaction and return on investment are more closely tied to what students choose to study, course load, and use of campus resources.
- Students who receive support on campus are almost twice as likely to say strongly agree that their higher education was worth the cost—even if they have student loan debt. This is a clear area for potential improvement on Indiana campuses. Less than half of Indiana graduates report having support outside the classroom to graduate or to find an internship or job. Only 22 percent report having a professor or mentor who cared about them, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their goals.
In this first year, the Indiana College Value Index does not include extensive Competency metrics for the statewide interactive dashboard or the value profile, as these measures are still under development. Additionally, some campus value profiles do not include information on graduate satisfaction and experiences, because not all colleges chose to participate in the Gallup-Indiana Survey. In the years ahead, the Commission aims to have complete information for all campuses.
The Commission will partner with the Indiana Youth Institute to begin a year-long effort to gain input from education, community, business and policy stakeholders to identify ways to improve, share and use the Indiana College Value Index as a critical tool in postsecondary planning.
“Anyone working toward the college experience may be overwhelmed with questions surrounding the process,” says Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. “The Indiana College Value Index examines three of the biggest questions families, students and counselors may face: how likely is a student to graduate? Will that student learn what he or she needs to know while at that college? And how likely is a student to find fulfilling employment after graduation? After all, the goal of any college degree is to find a meaningful career, while also providing a good return on your investment.”
The Commission will use the Indiana College Value Index to measure the state’s progress achieving the goals outlined in Reaching Higher, Delivering Value, Indiana’s updated strategic plan for higher education. Learn more about the plan and the Indiana College Value Index at http://www.che.in.gov.