Value of Higher Education: It’s Not That Simple (Part 1)

Welcome to the Coleman University Blog!

The United States is currently the most expensive country in the world to pursue a college education (OECD, 2014).

Just marinate in this thought for a moment, then read on.
As a technology executive, I have been considering the business value of a college education for quite some time. When one of my students forwarded me an article from this week’s New York Times, I knew it was time to post my thoughts.

The article’s title “A Simple Equation: More Education = More Income” made me wonder: is it really that simple?

Studies show that college graduates earn over 50% than those with a high school diploma alone (Kena, et al., 2014). But are all college degrees equal?

With the variety of options available (public/private, nonprofit/for-profit, online/on premise), today’s students must decide how to spend their money. As I mentioned previously, the U.S. is the single most expensive country in the world to get a college education. Students must choose their education options carefully.

Let us first just consider the costs and risks of some college options based on the results of a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education (Kena, et al., 2014):

  • For-profit universities are over 50% more expensive than public universities (though less expensive than the average private non-profit university)
  • Students of for-profit universities are only half as likely to graduate than students of private nonprofit universities (such as Coleman University) or public universities
  • Students of for-profit universities carry at least twice as much student debt as students of private nonprofit universities or public universities
  • Students of for-profit universities are twice as likely to default on student loans

While private, non-profit universities are generally more expensive than for-profit universities, their overall success rate for students is on par with public universities and far exceeds the success rates of the for-profit option.

Clearly, not all forms of education are equal. Public institutions and non-profit universities such as Coleman University are far more effective at producing graduates who secure jobs and can repay their student debt than the for-profit model of education.

In my next blog post, we will consider the effectiveness universities have in producing graduates who are prepared to enter the workforce. Stay tuned, Dear Reader!
Kena, G., Aud, S., Johnson, F., Wang, X., Zhang, J., Rathbun, A., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., and Kristapovich, P. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from
OECD (2014), Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from
Porter, E. (2014, September 10). A simple equation: More education = more income. New York Times (online ed.). Retrieved September 11, 2014 from

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About John P. Sahlin, Ph.D.

Dr. Sahlin is a leading technical expert in the fields of Systems Engineering and Project Management of distributed computing network design, and managed hosting services projects. He has over 20 years’ experience designing, building, and sustaining distributed computing networks for commercial and U.S. Department of Defense clients. He is currently supporting the County of San Diego CTO to develop and maintain a Technology Strategy to ensure excellence in public service. Dr. Sahlin is a graduate of the United States Naval Academic and holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Systems Engineering from the George Washington University. Dr. Sahlin has published in a number of journals and textbooks including IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics and IGI Global’s Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology (3rd Edition). His current research is the basis for an upcoming book regarding non-traditional models for Social Media.
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