Brookings Institution Earnings Study Shows Value Added by Webster Degree

Jun. 4, 2015

Completing a degree at Webster University doesn’t just transform a student for global citizenship and academic excellence — it also lays the groundwork for a successful career.

That’s the finding of a report by the Brookings Institution, released in April, that looked at the impact of colleges and universities from a different angle: By how much they can boost the mid-career earnings of their graduates.

According to Brookings’ formula and as reported in the St. Louis Business Journal (May 29-June 4 issue, page 8), Webster University offers the second highest value-add for graduates of all the colleges and universities studied in the St. Louis region.

Among the top five St. Louis universities, Webster had the highest “X factor,” a variable that considers concepts such as “reputation, alumni network and quality faculty” that play an unmeasured role in boosting earnings potential for graduates.

Methodology

According to the Brookings’ report introduction:

"Popular rankings from U.S. NewsForbes and Money focus only on a small fraction of four-year colleges and tend to reward highly selective institutions over those that may contribute the most to student success.

"Drawing on government and private sources, this report analyzes college “value-added,” the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and the outcomes one would expect given a student’s characteristics and the type of institution. Value-added captures the benefits that accrue from aspects of college quality we can measure, such as graduation rates and the market value of the skills a college teaches, as well as aspects we can’t.

"The value-added measures introduced here improve on conventional rankings in several ways. They are available for a much larger number of schools; they focus on the factors that best predict measurable economic outcomes; and they attempt to isolate the effect colleges themselves have on those outcomes, above and beyond what students’ backgrounds would predict.

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