The past several years have seen increased calls for colleges and universities to demonstrate their value to students, families and taxpayers. And the pressure has come from both sides of the political spectrum. Barack Obama, for example, didn't mince his words when he spoke a few years ago on the University of Michigan campus: "We are putting colleges on notice … you can't assume that you'll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down. We should push colleges to do better."
So how is a would-be student or a tax-paying citizen to decide the value of a given university or degree? There is certainly no shortage of tools that have been developed to help in this regard.
The federal College Scorecard, for example, is meant to "help students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, priced affordably, and is consistent with their educational and career goals."
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Various magazines put together college rankings. There have been efforts at the state level to show what graduates of a given institution or program can expect to earn. And some colleges and universities are working to provide those data themselves.
So we asked our panel of presidents from the University of Michigan, University of Oregon and The Ohio State University: If you had to devise just one tool or metric to help the general public assess the value of a particular college or degree, what would it be and why?