Is a Degree Still Worth It? Yes, Researchers Say, and the Payoff Is Getting Better

One could be excused for thinking the value of a college degree is in a downward spiral. With overall student-loan debt topping $1-trillion and tuition racing upward, to college graduates facing high levels of underemployment and stagnating wages, it might appear college simply isn’t worth it.

However, a study released on Tuesday by two researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concludes the opposite is true: The value of a bachelor’s degree is near an all-time high.

The researchers,…


Business Is a Big Draw for International Students in the U.S.

Previous research has shown that international students at American colleges and universities tend to be concentrated in specific areas, such as business and engineering. Now a new report from the Brookings Institution goes deeper in telling us who these students are, which cities they are coming from, and where they end up staying.

Nearly one in three international undergraduate students comes to the United States to study business, management, or marketing, according to the Brookings researche…


Digging Through Data for the Real Story on Student Loans

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education released new data on student-loan repayment that included figures on loan delinquencies—potentially good news for those interested in how well students are faring when it comes to paying back their loans.

The release precipitated an article the following Monday in The Huffington Post by Shahien Nasiripour titled, “Half Of Federal Student Loan Borrowers Not Paying On Time.” In his article, Mr. Nasiripour broke down the data and stated, as the headline p…


What Does $75-Million Mean to the NCAA?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Tuesday that it would pay $75-million to settle a class-action lawsuit over concussions in college sports.

Rather than paying damages to former players who have suffered concussions, as the NFL has done, the NCAA will devote most of the money to brain screenings for current and former NCAA athletes and to set up preventive measures for future players. Of the total, $5-million will pay for research on concussions.

So how much is the NCAA s…


How to Lie With Education Data, Part 2

On Tuesday I wrote about a tongue-in-cheek post at Forbes that tried to make a point about the cost of college. I argued that the piece failed readers by falsely equating cost and value, among other problems.

A subtler but more worrisome example of misleading data appeared on Monday at the top of an article in The New York Times about the predatory activities of some debt-settlement companies, two of which stand accused of charging exorbitant fees to student-loan borrowers for free federal debt-…


How to Lie With Education Data, Part 1

The well-known quotation is usually attributed to Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But even that attribution is probably untrue.

No matter who said it first, the point is clear. We’ve all seen data used, either intentionally or unintentionally, to misrepresent or distort the truth.

A couple of examples popped up in the past week, specifically related to the cost of college and the burden of student debt. We’ll take a look at one example here, and an…


Tuition and Fees Rise, but Cost of Living—by Colleges’ Estimate—Falls

As usual, the U.S. Department of Education is a bit behind when it comes to data.

Published tuition and fees increased by about 4 percent at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges and by nearly 5 percent at public two-year colleges from 2011-12 to 2013-14, when adjusted for inflation, according to a new release from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The preliminary data were collected from about 7,400 postsecondary institutions in the fall of 2013 through the Integrated Post…


Student-Debt Debate Is Stoked by Caveats About Data

A debate is raging about whether rising student-loan debt constitutes an existential crisis in American higher education or the natural outcome of more Americans’ pursuing a college degree.

That debate was stoked this week by the release of Andrew Rossi’s new documentary film, Ivory Tower, and a report, by Beth Akers and Matthew M. Chingos of the Brookings Institution, that made waves on the Internet after David Leonhardt wrote about it in The New York Times on Tuesday. Here’s some of the debate…


Is There a Crisis in Computer-Science Education?

We’ve been following the continuing conversation among journalists, programmers, and educators about computer-science education in the United States and whether everyone should—or should not—learn how to code. It’s a question that comes up often in digital-media circles, so we were pleased to read a thoughtful, nuanced contribution to that conversation last week from Tasneem Raja, the interactive editor at Mother Jones.

In it, one statistic in particular caught our eye: The United States graduat…


How Much Does It Cost to Recruit a Star Athlete?

My colleague Brad Wolverton has a terrific story this week that takes you inside the big-time college-sports recruitment process through the eyes of Marvin Clark, a promising high-school basketball player who dreams of playing in the NBA.

Mr. Clark was heavily recruited by half a dozen colleges, whose coaches flew to Kansas to see him play, brought him and his mother to their campuses for VIP tours, and gave him hours of personal attention on top of the hundreds of text messages they sent him. M…