Study shows student preference for colleges that spend big on amenities over academics

Dive Summary:

  • A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that a majority of students choosing four-year colleges may make their decisions based on a "college as a country club" preference, preferring schools that spend money on things like luxury dorms or climbing walls.
  • The study's basis is an analysis of college spending patterns, as well as the choices and preferences of students from the high school graduation classes of 1992 and 2004, and it found that higher academic spending by an institution was preferred only by those students choosing to attend highly competitive institutions.
  • In an e-mail, Jane V. Wellman--executive director of the National Association of System Heads and founder of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability--said the findings weren't surprising and back up major concerns about colleges' spending priorities.

From the article:

Faculty members and pundits regularly criticize colleges for investing scarce resources in facilities or athletics rather than making academic spending the priority. Think about all of those articles about campus spending on climbing walls, or the latest trend in luxury dormitories (nap pods are in). What if such spending choices are logical, at least if one accepts that the (student) customer is always right? ...

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Sean Hobson