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Miami ranks among lowest in ‘value of education’

By Sarah Emery, For The Miami Student

From the Princeton Review to the U.S. News and World Report, Miami University is often at the top of college rankings. However, a recent report from The Economist, a business and economics newspaper and journal ranked Miami 1,224 out of 1,275 schools for value of education.

This ranking puts Miami in the fourth percentile of schools. The Economist's study used a multiple-regression analysis with the Department of Education's college scorecard to track 1,275 four-year universities to see if college graduates make as much as they could have if they had attended a different college.

According to the ranking, Miami graduates should be making $51,752 on average. However, it states that alumni are actually earning only $45,800 on average. This stands in contrast to a university report on Miami alumni from 2013 and 2014, which stated 47 percent of alumni earn from $50,000 to $69,999 per year.

The Economist's study included variables such as average SAT scores, sex ratio, race breakdown and subjects available.

"One of the things I found really interesting in the article was that they had a good discussion on opportunity and privilege," said Miami statistics professor Lynette Hudiburgh.

She said the survey treated the data ethically and even used their formula to test other years with similar results.

The Economist reports that the data used only includes people who applied for federal financial aid and only tracks salaries for 10 years after starting college. This can eliminate data for people with well-off parents or students who attend graduate school after graduation.

The most recent data for Miami shows that over 20 percent of students have parents who make over $250,000 per year. This is four percent higher than similar public universities. According to the 2013 CIRP Freshman Survey, incoming Miami students are less likely than students at similar universities to report concerns about paying for college.

The 2012 Miami University Alumni Survey stated that 26.1 percent of recent alumni and 14.5 percent of established alumni were enrolled in some form of university to earn a master's or doctoral degree. This could factor into the projected incomes for students 10 years after they started college. If they were still in school, they would not have reached their expected income.

Of recent alumni, including those were not currently employed, who took Miami's 2012 Alumni Survey, most agreed their experiences at Miami helped them to develop problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and research skills.

Similarly, the study stated that almost 94 percent of alumni rated their entire experience at Miami as excellent or good.

Sophomore Kayla Carson has found her experience at Miami to be both rewarding and challenging, something she thinks she wasn't totally prepared for as a high school senior.

"I would tell myself as a high school senior to not be afraid to cast a wide net and look at schools you've never heard of," said Carson. "I really only applied to four universities, two of which I knew for a fact I wouldn't go to … I would've told myself to be more open about different possibilities."

Carson pointed out that there are some aspects of Miami that are unique and that she values, while there are also some issues on campus that she finds frustrating. She believes that her college decision would have been tougher if she knew then what she knew now.

While Carson's decision might have changed, sophomore Gabriela DiCristoforo believes she still would have chosen Miami if she made her decision again today.

"I chose Miami because it had a lot of options for majors and for food. It was close to home and it was a good size - not too big and not too small," said DiCristoforo. "It would take a lot for me to have gone to a different school. All the stuff I came here for is still true. I didn't look out of state, so I guess that could've changed things if I had."

Hudiburgh wants students to remember that rankings do not necessarily show for someone's true college experience.

"You have to remember that correlation does not necessarily imply causation," said Hudiburgh. "There are lots of wonderful things about Miami that you can't get elsewhere and that can't be factored into an algorithm."