Ranking Colleges Based on Performance

Recently, President Obama proposed a plan (video above)  to rank institutions of higher education based on their performance and help cut costs for students in the long run. Its purpose is to create a more competitive environment for colleges, emphasizing the quality of education over the costs to obtain it. “To get the best bang-for-your-buck,” as the President loves to put it. The intentions are to have this ranking system up within the next two years, and by 2018, have the system tied to federal aid. In other words, if you attend a school that ranks higher on the scale, you’re more likely to receive federal aid (or something like that).

With all conspiracy theories put aside, it sounds like a good idea- on paper, at least. Despite all the complexities involved in the way our education system works (which Obama’s plan only addresses a few of), it’s still a solid step towards challenging the rising costs of education. One of the issues that has been brought up though is that the plan takes a system of learning and turns it into a business model of sorts. What I mean by that is that the goal of the plan is to put provided students with affordable, quality education and put them into a high paying career; colleges are ranked according to how well they achieve this. In other words, colleges are scored based on return-on-investment, in a sense. Our system already looks at education in this way anyway, so not a whole lot changes here. To me, it just seems like a lot of work for something that can simply be fixed by just providing people with the information they need to make the right decisions as where to go to seek out their degree.