Improving higher education outcomes in the United States
College Measures worked with state governments to help identify higher education credentials with high return on investment. Our work focused on jobs that present the best opportunities for students to launch exciting careers and on skills that students need to get those jobs, with the goal of helping them find programs that allow them to lead the lives they want.
College Measures was borne of a commitment to improving higher education in the United States, and operated under the belief that data is underexposed and underused by students, parents, policymakers, and even by institutions themselves. The goal was to make data useful, usable—and used—in order to help increase student success.
Explore the resources below to learn more about College Measures, or continue on to Launch My Career to find our continued work in this area.
Reports and Publications
Florida has a large and complex system of higher education. Measuring the Economic Success of Florida’s Graduates provides students, parents, and others with information on graduates of Florida’s public institutions of higher education.
Degrees of Value: Differences in the Wages of Graduates from Minnesota's Colleges and Universities (Oct 2016, PDF)
Students invest their time and money in postsecondary education for many reasons, but one of the most important is the belief that a college degree will lead to a good job and a higher salary. This report centers on several important findings related to wage outcomes of postsecondary graduates in Minnesota.
Degrees of Value: Differences in the Wages of Graduates From Virginia’s Colleges and Universities (September 2016, PDF)
As student debt piles up and college costs escalate, concern about the value of a college degree has grown. While a college education is an investment in human capital that leads, on average, to significantly higher earnings over the course of a person’s work life, the data in this report show wide variation in the payoff of a college education across different fields of study and among students completing different postsecondary credentials.
Majors Matter: Differences in Wages Over Time in Texas (July 2016, PDF)
The wages of graduates from public colleges and universities in Texas vary radically across majors. As students think about their options—and as they think about how much college will cost and how much they might need to borrow to pay for their postsecondary education—the kinds of data highlighted in this report should help them make better decisions.
Labor Market Experiences After Postsecondary Education: Earnings and Other Outcomes of Florida’s Postsecondary Graduates and Completers (December 2015, PDF)
Most students make the investment in higher education because they want a better chance to land a good career and higher earnings. But as they enter the labor market, some graduates earn far more than others. This report sheds light on the postsecondary earnings of recent graduates and completers from Florida’s public postsecondary educational institutions.
Education Pays in Colorado: Earnings 1, 5, and 10 Years After College (April 2015, PDF)
Postsecondary education delivers many benefits to students who attend America’s colleges and universities and to society in general. But students should explore all of their options, including shorter and less expensive pathways (e.g., subbaccalaureate credentials) to good jobs. Among other findings, this report reveals that many subbaccalaureate credentials can lead to middle-class earnings—sometimes exceeding the earnings of graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
Why Your Major Matters: College Degrees and Long-Term Payoffs (October 2014, PDF)
How much graduates earn when they enter the labor market has become a hot-button issue as student debt mounts and fewer new graduates get jobs with the wages needed to pay off their loans. As this status report and these independent research findings show, the need now is for more long-term earnings data; fuller disclosure; and simpler, more accessible data presentation, so students and parents can make better decisions.
Tennessee Public Postsecondary Graduates and the Labor Market (September 2014, PDF)
Tennessee has a reputation for being a leader in reform efforts to improve education at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels. College Measures’ new EduTrendsTN website, developed in partnership with the state, supports initiatives to increase the number of college graduates in Tennessee by providing prospective students and their families with information about higher education costs, benefits, and affordability and delivering insights into employment demand and wage potential across many fields.
Calculating how much recent graduates earn after completing their degree is one way for policymakers to assess the return on state and federal investments in higher education. It’s also an important consideration for students and families, who want assurance that the burden of student loan debt will be offset by higher earnings. This report uses data from seven states to describe lessons about the labor market success of their graduates.
What's the Value of an Associate's Degree? The Return on Investment for Graduates and Taxpayers (October 2013, PDF)
Given the high cost of earning a degree—and, frequently, the debt burden that goes with it—students, parents, policymakers, and the media are questioning higher education's value. This report looks at the labor market success of students with an associate’s degree from a community college as their highest academic credential.
Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others (September 2013, PDF)
Prospective college students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead. This report indicates that some graduates with associate's degrees outearn those with bachelor's degrees in their first year, and finds what a person studies can produce higher earnings than where he or she studies.
Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Colleges and Universities Who Are Working in Texas (April 2013, PDF)
The earnings of recent bachelor's and master's recipients in Texas vary not only by degree but by specific program and institution, according to a recent study prepared by College Measures, a joint venture of AIR and the Matrix Knowledge Group.
Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates from Colorado’s Colleges and Universities Working in Colorado (March 2013, PDF)
This report show that in Colorado, higher education pays off for those who earn postsecondary credentials. Graduates with postsecondary degrees working in Colorado after graduation can average as much as $20,000 more than high school graduates.
The Earning Power of Recent Graduates From Virginia’s Colleges and Universities (October 2012, PDF)
The authors of this report, the result of a partnership between the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia and College Measures, explore the variation in first-year earnings for graduates from individual degree programs at individual colleges. The results show that the degrees students earn, and where they earn them, matter.
The Earning Power of Graduates from Tennessee's Colleges and Universities (September 2012, PDF)
Making use of newly available data, this report compares the average first-year earnings of recent graduates from two-year and four-year institutions across Tennessee. It discovers that the school you attend and the major you select can make a big difference in what you earn. In some cases, an associate's degree pays more than a four-year diploma.
Mark Schneider on the Earning Power of Recent Graduates (September 2012)
In this video, Dr. Mark Schneider, a vice president at AIR, discusses his work on the earning power of first-year graduates from colleges and universities. In general, the findings show that a student's school and major can make a big difference in what they earn.
The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates (August 2011)
Our colleges and universities are now graduating only slightly more than half the students who walk through their doors. Much of the cost of dropping out is borne by individual students. This report shows the high costs of low college graduation rates in terms of lost income and in lower tax receipts for federal and state governments.
Given the importance of a college education to entering and staying in the middle class and the high cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree, Who Wins? and Who Pays? are questions being asked today at kitchen tables and in the halls of government throughout the nation. This study shows that the answers are different than what is commonly found in the media.