Blog: Higher Ed Beat
Tips for Scrutinizing Data on College Value
Are college students getting the best education for their (and taxpayers’) money?
What’s the “value” of a college education? As college costs rise, more people are questioning what they’re getting for their tuition and tax money.
Reporters investigating this important topic can access a growing number of databases that are starting to capture at least some aspects of value, according to Dominique Baker, an education policy professor at Southern Methodist University, and Robert Kelchen, a professor at Seton Hall University and data manager for the Washington Monthly College Rankings.
Professional journalists who turned their beat coverage of higher education into books shared their experiences during a May 4 session at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar.
Learn about the different ways they found literary agents, and how they approached their writing, publishing and promotion journeys.
The participants were:
- Adam Harris, The Atlantic
- Josh Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal
- Andy Thomason, The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Melissa Korn, The Wall Street Journal (Moderator)
Video Tutorial: Downloading and Using College Scorecard Data
Analyze alumni earnings, student debt and other college data.
Data on how quickly people pay back their student loans, and how much alumni earn are among the most commonly cited indicators of the economic value of higher education.
So where do you find that important, and news-making data?
Check out the College Scorecard. The U.S. Department of Education provides free in-depth data on five areas: cost, graduation rate, employment rate, average amount borrowed and loan default rate.
Video Tutorial: How to Use the College Scorecard Tool
Find college data on student loans, alumni earnings and more.
If you’re on the higher education beat, your readers are hungry for news and information about student loans and whether a particular college or major paid off in the form of a good job.
Luckily, the U.S. Department of Education has started providing free in-depth data on student debt levels and alumni earnings on its College Scorecard.
Are ‘Merit’-based Education Admissions Practices Racist?
Experts outline problems with - and efforts to improve - use of SAT scores, affirmative action, school lotteries.
It is one of the thorniest topics in education: What criteria should be used to fairly determine which students are admitted to America’s “elite” public schools, colleges and universities?
Many top schools have faced criticism in recent decades for not reflecting the nation’s racial and socioeconomic diversity.
Racism at VMI
The Washington Post’s Ian Shapira shares backstory to his prize-winning investigation of racist policies and practices at Virginia Military Institute
(EWA Radio Episode 270)
The impact of reporter Ian Shapira’s deep dive into the troubled culture at the nation’s oldest state-support military college was seismic: within days, the Virginia Military Institute’s leader had resigned, and Gov. Ralph Northam pledged an independent investigation.
The Billions of Dollars in Hidden Student Loan Debt
Students who fall behind on their loans to their for-profit colleges find themselves unable to move forward with their careers until the debt is paid off
(EWA Radio Episode 266)
The impact of America’s $1.5 trillion in student loan debt makes a lot of headlines. But one team of reporters dug into a little-known corner of the student debt market and discovered a pattern of rule-evading and abuses that is destroying the educational opportunities and careers of tens of thousands of Americans.
Why More Men Are Missing Out on College
The decline in student enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic is seven times as steep for men as women, raising questions about the long-term impact on individuals and communities (EWA Radio Episode 261)
COVID-19 is remaking the college landscape, especially when it comes to who’s pursuing – and who’s pausing – on higher education. New data shows the decline in enrollment is seven times as large for men as for women.
How COVID-19 Is Crushing Colleges’ Budgets
Experts offer story ideas on inequities, budget squeezes and college closures.
The COVID-19 pandemic “is the most significant crisis (higher education) has faced, even going back to the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, and the Vietnam War protests,” said Carlos Santiago, the Massachusetts commissioner of higher education and a 40-year veteran of the sector.
3 Surprising Ways COVID-19 Is Changing College Admissions And Tests
Experts offer new angles for reporters covering SAT, ACT and the test-optional movement.
Prom, graduation, the SAT. For decades, those three springtime rites of passage have been important steps for American teens marching toward adulthood.
But the coronavirus pandemic upended those traditions for the 3.7 million students in the high school class of 2020.
Investigative Reporters: What to Do When The Story Changes
Three strategies for piloting journalistic projects through news and change.
It’s hard enough these days for journalists to get the time, resources and editorial support they need to pursue ambitious projects. So when the story changes, or news, of, say, a pandemic breaks, reporters may fear that their story and hard work will be abandoned.
But reporters who build good rapport with their editors, stay organized, and work out ways to incorporate new developments into their stories can save and even elevate their projects, according to teams of journalists from The Washington Post and APM Reports.
How to Cover The Way Race and Racism Are Taught
Start your research by checking reading assignments, instructor pay, and student demographics
Police brutality, race and social justice have long been on the syllabus for college professors who teach about ethnicity and cultural issues. But now, incidents such as the killing of George Floyd and protests against systemic racism have sparked much broader interest in race and diversity issues, according to three experts who spoke at the Education Writers Association’s 2020 Higher Education Seminar.