Return on Education website illustrates value of a Clark degree

What is a college education worth?

The question is both blunt and pervasive, and it’s at the forefront for many prospective students and their parents, who are weighing the value of a college diploma against the expense of earning it. Families are looking for schools that not only provide an excellent education, but will also give them the tools for career success.

Click here for a feature on Clark’s “Never Stops” site, by WBUR 90.9-FM Boston (NPR).

Clark University’s Office of Marketing and Communications has unveiled a website that supplies powerful testament to the value of a Clark education by focusing on alumni outcomes. Return on Education lists many of the companies that employ Clark alumni (or the graduate schools they attend), describes the positions they hold (searchable by major or industry) and the salary ranges for those jobs, and offers personal stories in which alumni describe their career paths and current students discuss their Clark experiences.

Paula David, vice president for marketing and communications, was prompted to launch the site in response to the recent media drumbeat questioning the value of a college education, especially a liberal education. Increasingly, she notes, families are determining college choice based on two criteria: whether the school’s graduates obtain good jobs, and the net cost to secure a degree. But Return on Education extends beyond the issues of jobs and affordability to also illustrate how a Clark education is a lifelong investment.

“How do you prove the worth of a Clark education? You do it by looking at the graduates who leave here and the kind of lives they’re leading,” David says. “On the site they share their journeys, and tell what sparked their passions, what professors inspired them, what they were able to take from Clark into the world and the workplace. Clark graduates leave not only with the broad knowledge and critical thinking that comes from a solid liberal education, but also with the kinds of skills that prepare them to thrive in a world of constant change.

“These stories show that Clark grads do go on to make a good livelihood, raise their families, contribute in their fields, and become good citizens, always with that sense of activism and wanting to make a difference in their lives, the lives of others, and the industries they’ve chosen.”

- Paula David, V.P. of Marketing and Communications

Today’s college graduates typically will not only have multiple jobs over the course of their lives, but multiple careers — including careers that, thanks to rapidly expanding technology and the globalization of markets, haven’t even been imagined yet. The stories in the Return on Education site highlight how Clark graduates continue to be adaptable and flexible, and the ways they seize opportunities, or create their own. The site also provides a complete set of tools for prospective students (and parents) to answer questions like, “What will I do with an English degree?”; “Are there interesting internships in my field of study?”; “Where are Clark alumni working in the national media?”

“As we continue to generate more awareness of LEEP™ (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) at Clark,” David says, “I want employers to recognize Clark University on résumés and say to themselves: These are the people I want in my organization because I know they will be leaders, they will be the kind of contributors who will really make a difference, they are thinkers as well as doers and will act responsibly and decisively, all within a strong moral code.”

To build the site, Marketing and Communications reached out to Alumni Affairs, Career Services and the chairs of Clark’s academic departments to create a database of alumni stories through videos, podcasts and text pieces. “Bringing those stories together in one place gives a very good picture of what a prospective student can do with a Clark degree,” David says.

She urges alumni to visit the site, which includes a “Tell us about you” button where alumni can share their personal narratives. The more alumni who contribute, the more accurate picture will emerge about the value of a Clark degree.

“The best kind of marketing are the real and authentic stories that our students and graduates tell about what Clark meant to them, and the rich lives they’ve gone on to lead,” David says.