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Archive for Thursday, January 24, 2008

Magazine strikes KU off list for ‘best value’ among colleges

Students mill around Fraser Hall on the Kansas University campus.

Students mill around Fraser Hall on the Kansas University campus.

January 24, 2008

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On the street

Do you think Kansas University is a good value?

As far as the faculty goes, I think they’re great. But in terms of the cost of tuition, fees and books, I do feel like I’m being gouged a bit.

More responses

Kansas University usually does best on rankings that emphasize low cost and accessibility.

However, when Kiplinger Magazine put out its list of "best values in public colleges," KU was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps as confusing, the University of Missouri with substantially higher tuition made the cut.

A data expert for Kiplinger's said two-thirds of the rankings were based on academic measures, and specifically some that KU rarely does well in.

A KU spokeswoman said the university's absence may not be a matter of missing the cut, so much as the magazine not having the right data.

Among the academic indicators that Kiplinger looks at are freshmen class retention and the average ACT score of entering students. KU rarely scores well in those categories, and they're often viewed as a drag on many of KU's overall rankings.

"We understand we were not considered for this list because of a glitch involving data," KU spokeswoman Jill Jess said. "We are working with the company to resolve that glitch."

The rankings, released this month, listed seven Big 12 schools - Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Iowa State, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - among the 100 best values.

Marc Wojno, a Kiplinger data analyst, said compiling the rankings involved a comprehensive process that included acquiring the data from Peterson's, a higher education data company, and then selecting the top 120 or so schools based on academics.

Kiplinger, Wojno said, then supplements Peterson's data with how much financial aid students receive, tuition costs and the average cost for students to attend after deducting grants and scholarships.

"We try to narrow it down based on all these criteria," Wojno said. "We want to know the average amount of debt a student accumulates."

Wojno said the rankings this year were very competitive, with schools dropping six or 10 spots from the year before, even though little changed at their campuses.

But according to Jess, KU didn't suffer that fate but suffered because something went wrong in the data collection process.

Companies submit data requests to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, and KU then sends them the data. Somehow, the needed data didn't make it to Peterson's.

"We don't know where exactly the problem occurred, but we're trying to work that out," she said.

Comments

DirtyLinen 6 years, 2 months ago

Solomon;

Agreed. However, the gemcutter example was actually intended for the other issue (retention). I said that I could understand the reasoning behind both requiring higher ACTs and having good retention rates, but they're different issues, and admittedly somewhat contradictory.

Your interpretation of my example is right on ... but as I said, it was meant for the retention rate issue. You wouldn't drop off a large bag of uncut stones with a gemcutter if he was going to take the smaller ones and discard them because he couldn't make anything worthwhile out of them, would you? Like that example, I think a truly great school is one who can take the kids with the lower scores and keep them there until they make marketable graduates out of them.

Conversely, though, you wouldn't be likely to choose a gemcutter who specializes in low quality stones in the first place. Human nature ... when the gems are your kids, you don't want to believe they're low quality rocks, so you want to send them to a place that you think only accepted them because they're geniuses. I realize a lot of that is perceived value, based along similar lines as prestige pricing (or in the infamous words of Groucho, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member").

But totally separate from the gemcutter example, I still think that higher entrance standards improve the quality of education for all students. For one thing, the gems are only affected by the gemcutter, the other stones in the shop don't contribute anything to the quality of his work. But fellow students do make a contribution to the overall learning experience. When I was a freshman living in the dorm, the major reason I got through calculus is because there was a hard-partying art major down the hall who could do calculus in his head! I believe everyone will learn more being in a community of brighter students, and that's real value, since you're not paying any more if the other kids are smart.

Hence my humble opinion that both higher retention rates and stricter entrance standards contribute positively to a school. But since the two are somewhat contradictory, the schools with the best balance are probably the best value.

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toefungus 6 years, 2 months ago

You are right, JazzEgle. Education is more about effort that outcome. If the effort is there, the outcome will take care of itself. KU has been very slow to recognize it is declining.

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JazzEgle 6 years, 2 months ago

"Love the Jayhawks, just hate the academic attitude." - janeyb

I personally think it is a great idea to make it harder to retain scholarships. I have one and I have been working very hard to get out in 4 years with a high GPA at a different institution. I think students that take the approach that college is about education first should be rewarded as such. Besides, rankings are a joke anyways, choosing a school based on rankings is a great way to be disappointed

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Eybea Opiner 6 years, 2 months ago

DirtyLinen, I think we agree. KU (or any other school) is the gem cutter. You bring your gems (students), some of which are large and/or nearly flawless (high ACT), some are smaller and/or flawed (lower ACT). If the cutter can make something good out of even the smaller, flawed gems, you are getting great value from the cutter.

The cutter down the street isn't providing more value just because he or she accepts only the largest, least flawed gems. In fact, a case could be made that the value is less in that case.

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justthefacts 6 years, 2 months ago

You want to pay less tution? Then get other people (or you can chip in too) to pay more taxes!! The cost to educate someone includes lots of things, including the salaries to teachers and the upkeep of buildings. As the tax payers pay less and less (or so its said) the students are asked to pick up the difference. It's a tough balancing act. BUT if you compare KS rates of tution to other schools, you may be surprised at what you find. Especially if you then factor in the other numbers (such as students who start versus who graduate, the number of students who find employment right away, etc.).

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 2 months ago

Solomon (Anonymous) says:

"Conversely, if 30% drop out before securing a degree, but the remaining 70% are sought after for high-paying or prestigious jobs I would say that their education had great "value.""

The key word there being "their."

Imagine you're in the gem business. You bring your raw stones to a gem cutter. Even a bad one is going to be able to make something valuable out of the biggest pieces. But a very good cutter will make something out of the littler ones, too, not to mention doing a better job with bigger pieces. Overall, you'll get a much better value from the gem cutter who can make something out of lower quality pieces, even though the less able cutter will have some successful high-dollar finished gems.

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Eybea Opiner 6 years, 2 months ago

DirtyLinen, if you retain 100% of the students, but their level of education is so poor that a business can't depend on them to be competent, then there's no "value" to their education. How many philosophy majors are out there doing clerk work? A lot. What "value" is their education, whether from KU or a higher rated institution? Certainly one can talk about the intrinsic value of an education, but I douibt that is a basis for rating a school.

Conversely, if 30% drop out before securing a degree, but the remaining 70% are sought after for high-paying or prestigious jobs I would say that their education had great "value."

I'm not weighing in on the question regarding KU's standing, but I can't believe that entry level ACT scores or retention rates are significant to the "value" of the education to be received, notwithstanding how much of your education was derived from other students.

I went to a very small state school with no cache or prestige, yet I advanced in my career, managed people who had graduated from more well-known schools, and ultimately owned my own businesses, and retired before I was 60. I also know the difference between "there," "their," and "they're," as well as the difference between "whether" and "weather," "too," "to," and "two," etc. I daresay my education yielded more "value" than many have experienced from a highly rated university.

I simply don't believe that you can assess value of an education by looking at entrance criteria.

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 2 months ago

Solomon (Anonymous) says:

"How do ACT scores of incoming students, or drop out rates translate to "value?""

"It seems to me that the real "value" of an education should be measured on what percentage of graduating seniors get jobs, how much they earn, how they advance in their chosen fields, etc."

As far as the ACT scores, I know that I learned an awful lot from my fellow students, not just from the instructors or textbooks. This was especially true in grad school, but it was also the case when I got my BBA, as most of the students in my program were non-trads with a lot of business experience. I would also think that if the ACT scores are too low, the level of instruction will almost by necessity hold the brighter students back somewhat.

As far as retention rates, the percentage of graduates that get jobs is pretty meaningless with a lousy retention rate ... it doesn't matter so much if 100% of your graduates get jobs paying over $100K if only 25% of your students graduate.

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coolmarv 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey MaryKate, sorry to hear about Heath.

I guess we know where you kept your pill stash.

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MaryKatesPillStash 6 years, 2 months ago

It could. Heck, I would rather there be NO parking lot to the east of Allen Fieldhouse. I wish everyone would find alternative modes to get to campus.

But students do not pay a parking 'fee.' Students who wish to park on campus purchase a parking pass. The rules that come along with that parking pass explain that students may not park in certain lots during certain times.

Being able to park your car right next to the building you have class in is not your 'right' just because you pay tuition. If you don't like the rules that go along with the current parking situation, then 1) don't park on campus, 2) come to Senate's parking committee meetings and enlighten them with your brilliant ideas, or 3) Come to the semesterly forums that the Parking Department holds and share your brilliant ideas.

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kneejerkreaction 6 years, 2 months ago

Who gives a crap what Kiplinger says? Maybe KU should advertise more in their magazine. That'd no doubt improve rankings.

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valgrlku 6 years, 2 months ago

MaryKate - Couldn't your off-site busing logic be directly applied to those attending athletic events, as opposed to the students?

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valgrlku 6 years, 2 months ago

Prowess - All "big" athletic events subject students to loss of parking "privelege" - KS Relays (several full days in the spring), football, & BB. The fact remains that KU is supposed to be an institution of learning, and anything that impedes that process should be questioned. Students who pay tuition and parking fees should not be expected to "plan ahead" and make alternate plans.

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MaryKatesPillStash 6 years, 2 months ago

When you purchase a parking permit, you consenting to the list of parking rules and regulations. If you don't like the fact that, for a few nights during the school year, you will not be able to park within a block from your classes, you might need to check your lazy self. KU offers Park and Ride service for FREE to students with any parking pass. That bus is FREE to anyone who wants to ride. Additionally, there are several lots on campus that are NOT reserved for basketball parking. The FREE Park and Ride bus services areas adjacent to those lots.

And, like someone mentioned, KU's parking costs are more than reasonable. In fact, a lot of comprable schools DO NOT ALLOW THEIR STUDENTS TO PARK ON CAMPUS.

What alternative would you prefer to the status quo? Bulldoze every inch of greenspace on campus and convert it to a parking lot so you can squeeze every penny of value out of your measly $160 PER YEAR parking pass? Seriously.

Sorry to contribute to the tangent about parking, but gripes about parking on campus really irritate me. If everyone would just utilize the bus system or walk or ride their bikes, we wouldn't have the "problems" that you speak of. Oh, I forgot. Most people here want to get rid of buses. Ha.

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d_prowess 6 years, 2 months ago

While I understand the cost of parking is a good amount of money, I am pretty sure I saw a story recently (either LJWorld or Kansan) that showed KU parking was actually pretty cheap when compared to other schools.
And from a quick count, I show that there are only 8 home games that occur on nights when school is in session. Granted this is an inconvenience for the few students that have class on those nights, but you chose to attend a major university that has big-time athletics. Just plan ahead a little for those few nights:

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samsnewplace 6 years, 2 months ago

FatTony are you on staff? geez!

No surprise to me that KU didn't make the "best value" catagory, they raise their costs any further and you will have to be a rich JO CTY kid to attend, average joe won't be able to even get a student loan big enough to attend (unless he's good at sports and recruited).

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compmd 6 years, 2 months ago

Just because admissions get tougher doesn't make the students smarter. I've said it before, but its pertinent here, so I'll say it again: over the last few years the quality of grads has dropped so far that my local business can't rely on KU grads anymore. Other larger companies are having the same problem.

I've run into the parking problem before. I like to make a scene. Tell whoever it is to get their supervisor or a police officer, and tell them about the University's mission statement as approved by the Regents. Show them this part:

"The university is committed to excellence. It fosters a multicultural environment in which the dignity and rights of the individual are respected. Intellectual diversity, integrity and disciplined inquiry in the search for knowledge are of paramount importance."

By denying you parking that otherwise would have been available, they are contradicting their own concept that disciplined inquiry is of paramount importance. That means that a basketball game cannot come at a higher priority than your search for knowledge. Call them out on their stupidity, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish when you throw the BS flag.

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Danimal 6 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree with valgrlku. It's pretty ridiculous how KU treats its students while pumping more money out of them every passing year.

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valgrlku 6 years, 2 months ago

FatTony - You're completely missing the point - students are not permitted to park in spaces for which they have paid, if there is an athletic event and the lot is designated for said event, regardless of what the "normal" restrictions are - even if the student is attending class or working on campus.

If you've ever been on campus during these times, you would have seen the temporary parking signs that "reserve" the lots for athletic events - sometimes "reserving" the lots hours before the actual event time. Cars parked in those spots after the deadline are subject to towing. Students attending class or working on campus should be given parking priority over guests who are attending such events.

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Danimal 6 years, 2 months ago

Can't have it all I guess, who wants to be good at academics anyway?

I just love how the KU staff can't take responsibility for anything and say "Hey, the algorithm this publication uses is especially brutal on KU because of X, Y, and Z." Instead "the data was flawed" hilarious! I remember how while tuition was skyrocketing over the last few years the mantra was "Oh, but KU is still a great bargain!" Yeah right, and now we're getting the reports to back it up. Any university the treats its undergrads as poorly as KU does deserves to be excluded from many lists.

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FatTony 6 years, 2 months ago

Kerplunker -

Hey guess what after 5 campus is open and you can park in most lots. I suggest trying to find an even closer spot in one of those lots. So don't whine to me about the abhorrent treatment you are recieving. If you were to read the parking signs you would notice the times at which parking is restricted. Additionally the supposedly the ridiculous amount you have to spend for parking is only for the times at which parking is restricted for those lots. If you don't like the costs find alternative means.

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Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 6 years, 2 months ago

Add yet another triumph to Bob Hemenway's tenure.

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Eybea Opiner 6 years, 2 months ago

How do ACT scores of incoming students, or drop out rates translate to "value?"

It seems to me that the real "value" of an education should be measured on what percentage of graduating seniors get jobs, how much they earn, how they advance in their chosen fields, etc.

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logrithmic 6 years, 2 months ago

OK, we've got a great Bball team and football team....

Something had to suffer.

And who said college was about academics anyway?

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KU_cynic 6 years, 2 months ago

Ku does about as well as many comparable institutions on ACT scores, but student retention is indeed a bit embarrassing. KU is trying to address the problem with a little more pre-admission weeding out and a lot more post-admission hand-holding. The latter seems to be having the unintended consequence of making all students more pampered, demanding, and whiny when it comes to hard work and grade expectations.

But, what I really want to say in response to this story is: Way to go multi-million dollar KU PR-campaign personnel! You can pick the right hue of blue and the choose a nice font with which to write "KU", but you can't keep in touch with major publications that students and parents (especially the out-of-state ones that pay full freight) rely upon when choosing colleges. Way to go, team! Better go hire some consultants to find out how you messed up and make recommendations to a task force on how to do better next time (snicker).

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janeyb 6 years, 2 months ago

"Among the academic indicators that Kiplinger looks at are freshmen class retention and the average ACT score of entering students."

Glitch? Wasn't KU bragging just a few months ago abut changing policies as withdrawal procedures and course repeat so they could weed out students who don't belong at KU? KU also upped the number of credit hours a student must take per semester for scholarships and the GPA a student must have to retain scholarships. KU claimed it would award more scholarships with the increased tuition, but made it very difficult to retain the scholarships. To all this add the tuition and fee increases. If I were an incoming Freshman, I wouldn't go near the four year guaranteed tuition. I doubt that it was a glitch. December 2008 and I am out of there. Love the Jayhawks, just hate the academic attitude.

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kerplunkr 6 years, 2 months ago

Geez, as a current student and alumni, I can't imagine how KU was left off this list. Actually, let me complain a bit about the parking situation, athletics, and academics.

There was a night last semester where I had a 7:00 p.m. lab but there happened to also be a basketball game that night. I was very harshly and offensively told by KU parking staff that I could not park in student parking even to go to class! I understand bball is a big revenue maker, but does it have to come at the cost of MY education? Give me a break! Students pay exorbitant amounts for parking and there is only one lot halfway sufficient for us and it happens to be across the street from the fieldhouse.

I've had friends experience this same atrocity. The more money I spend with this university the less I feel appreciated by it. Is KU a good buy? Maybe. Is it accessible? NO. Somedays I am really ashamed and can only pray Mizzou treats their students worse.

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