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Wallethub's 2018 Best Colleges Ranking ft Eugene T. Parker III

Monday, October 23, 2017


Ask the Experts

Eugene T. Parker III
Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas 

What type of universities do you think provide the best return on investment?
Some considerations of students’ investment in higher education follow conventional economic models of choice, particularly human capital concepts. Students are more willing to invest in their own advanced education when they perceive the benefits (both short-term and lifelong) to be greater than the associated financial costs or exigency. What muddles this idea is that there are differences between how students pay for college and the corresponding premiums that are attached to how students are able to pay. For instance, there is an added financial obligation when borrowing for college versus if a student receives institutional or state grants. That said, it is challenging for higher education scholars to generalize return on investment and how students engage with the concept. It is essentially student-specific, and based on many individualcentered variables. Let’s say a student with high need completes high school and is considering college attendance. If thatof those students and/or with lower resulting debt. Again, this can’t be generalized to the entire population. High-income students may approach this topic quite differently than low-income students. This also attends to your question about “name brand” schools and higher sticker prices.

Given that the top 25 universities hold 52% of all endowment wealth, should the government consider taxing endowments of the wealthiest universities?
I will provide some thoughts for your consideration that ought to be included in the discussion surrounding this topic. First, there are differences between the endowments of private and public institutions. So, when one considers state (and federal) policies, you must attend to this assertion. Another consideration is that some institutional foundations are constructed with complex and intricate financial statuses that are separate from the status of the associated college or university. Often, the antecedents of large endowments are private giving, institutional foundations and development office activities. There could be implications and unintended consequences when you consider taxing gifts. For instance, how would this notion of federal and state taxes affect the perspective of a potential donor who might want to provide a $2 million gift to a public university? If you knew that your $2 million gift will be taxed at 20 percent, would that influence your decision? 

What tips do you have for a student looking to graduate with minimal debt and great job prospects?
I have several recommendations for students who want to graduate with minimum debt while maximizing job prospects. First, prior to attending college or very early during one’s college career, try to hone in on your interests or your passions. What truly interests you? What are your hobbies? What do you actually enjoy doing? There are many different institutional types available for many different fields of study that can lead to successful careers. If a student has a passion for a particular trade or vocation, an associate’s degree might be a suitable option, rather than a bachelor’s degree. Students ought to research potential careers and associated details about those careers, such as expected earnings, life/work considerations, etc. For instance, if a student does not want to sit in an office 9am-5pm, there are plenty of careers that afford a person to not have traditional work hours, work from home, or work from a laptop in a coffeeshop. Additionally, some careers have lower expected lifetime earnings than other careers. Thus, when students choose to borrow, they should consider the cost associated with that financial cost, and their ability to afford those costs in their chosen professional field. 

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