Find the True Value of Higher Education

Article excerpt

The recent survey of compensation for college presidents was met with a resounding thud. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last month that for the first time ever a college president - in fact, five of them - earned more than $1 million in a single year. That news is renewing questions about soaring college costs. It should also spark discussions about the willingness and ability of our colleges and universities to assess the quality of their teaching and the satisfaction and success of their graduates.

Educators have certainly been talking about treating students and parents as "customers" for many years. However, few colleges are actually exhibiting the introspection and discipline needed to assess customer satisfaction and success through the eyes of students, parents, and employers.

Focusing exclusively on cost is understandable. Cost issues are in our face when a tuition bill arrives at home or the school needs to purchase new technology to remain competitive. Indeed, the College Board reports that tuition and fees rose 51 percent at public four-year colleges and 36 percent at private institutions over the past decade.

Yet in a culture obsessed with short-term, sound-bite thinking, we owe it to ourselves as students and administrators to introduce lifetime success and satisfaction into the cost equation. …