The Intangible Value of a College Degree

When it comes to determining the value of a college degree, much of the conversation revolves around what a graduate’s potential earnings will be after obtaining a degree, though not everyone studies to earn a lot of money. So starting in the spring and for the next five years, polling agency Gallup and Purdue University will begin to survey 150,000 college graduates (30,000 at a time) to find out “how the graduates perceive the effect of college on their careers and quality of life.” From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

In that sense, the Gallup-Purdue Index, as it’s called, has the potential to go beyond other studies that measure college’s value with a blunt instrument like salary figures.

“One of George Gallup’s first research obsessions was trying to quantify a life well lived,” says Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. Gallup’s extensive research in well-being will be used to assess the respondents not only in terms of career and finances, but also in terms of relationships, physical health, and engagement with community.

The sample of respondents will proportionately match the graduation patterns in the general population. For example, if enrollment at four-year public colleges is 60 percent of students at all four-year colleges, 60 percent of the respondents will have graduated from four-year public institutions.

Of course money is important—we need it to fund the lives we want to live—but it’ll be good to see data collected on the noneconomic values of a college degree.

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