Many prospective students value college spending on amenities, US study finds

January 29, 2013

New research released by the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research suggests 4-year colleges that want to attract the vast majority of prospective students (those who cannot aspire to enrol in highly competitive schools) may be making wise investments by spending on "consumption" preferences, even if that essentially defines PSE as (in the study's title) "college as country club." The research is based on an analysis of college spending patterns and the choices of stated preferences of students who graduated from secondary school in the classes of 1992 and 2004. All students seem to value spending on "amenities" (student services and activities, athletics, and facilities) and to make enrolment decisions partly based on such spending. Spending on academics is calculated in the research to mean instruction and academic support, including all costs related to courses, libraries, museums, and other facilities associated with the educational mission. It turns out that only those students who are able to consider and attend highly competitive schools value academic spending enough that it would influence their decisions. The study's authors conclude that the vast majority of 4-year institutions will not see application growth by investing in academics. Inside Higher Ed | Paper