A couple of weeks ago, The Economist posted their first college ranking list, ever. The aptly titled “Our first-ever college rankings”, from October 29th, 2015, took a different approach to ranking colleges compared to other ranking sites.

The Economist utilized the Obama administration’s new College Scorecard website. (Our wonderful writer Brittany wrote a review a while ago) This value-added college ranking, in essence, measures how much the median student earns compared to how much the student is expected to earn, especially if they had studied elsewhere. TL;DR: It measures how much more you earn by going to certain colleges. Being The Economist, it makes sense that it places such a heavy emphasis on post-college earnings. According to the article, most of the schools that scored higher “over/under” scores are schools that have heavy emphasis on engineering, while art schools tend to score lower. Interestingly, The Economist did not single out Otis as remarkable, the first college on the list with an expected earning under $55,000. Otis students are only expected to make $29,569, while the median earning result is $42,000, giving an over/under score of $12,431. This places Otis College of Art and Design squarely at 6th place, comparable to 4th place Harvard, with an over/under of $12,727. The only art school that comes close to Otis on the list is Rhode Island School of Design, coming in at 24th place.

Interestingly, the Brookings Institution also published a value-added college ranking list on October 29th.

Brookings appears to have weighted their variables differently, and consequently, almost all art schools are ranked incredibly low on the list. Otis College sits at an unranked value-added score of 22/100, compared to The Economist’s 99/100 score for Otis. Interestingly, Brookings weighs the average earnings of those who hold a certain degree in a field, averaged across all degrees a school offers. This is called the curriculum value, and for Otis, the curriculum value is $40,592. This drops Otis fairly low. In comparison, the top school for Brookings, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, holds a curriculum value of $100,000. Furthermore, Brookings places emphasis on colleges that have a higher percentage of graduates with STEM knowledge (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Otis only has 5.4% of its graduates with STEM knowledge, dropping Otis even farther. It appears that Brookings unfairly penalizes Otis and other art and design schools for, well, teaching art and design.

One worthwhile statistic that Brookings provides is the average monthly salary of the instructors, at only $4,759. Other art colleges in the area provide much higher wages, such as Art Center ($6,243), CalArts ($5,845), or Art Institute ($5,072). Only Art Center ranked higher than Otis on Brookings, at a 72. Both CalArts and Art Institute ranked even lower than Otis on Brookings, with CalArts at 2 for Brookings, and Art Institute at 1 for Brookings. All 3 colleges were unranked on The Economist. Though some of these schools are valued as worse than Otis, they still pay their instructors higher. Whether this is because of inaccurate data or underpaying, this topic is worth investigating.

- Jose -


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