Is This Poorly Ranked Missouri University Really the Worst?
The website Earn Spend Live has a list "The College Not Worth Attending In Each State, Ranked", and the Missouri college ranked at #1 on their list.
Earn Spend Live developed its list by using data from the Department of Education, Niche, and College Factual. And it seemed a few of the key things they were looking for were: graduation rates, how much graduates would earn, and how much student loan debts students wound up with.
The University that ranked #1 on their list to avoid is Missouri's Harris-Stowe State University. Earn Spend Live says the University has one of the lowest graduation rates in the whole nation, most students don't graduate on time, and most students wind up with $30,000 of student loan debt. They admit the student loan debt isn't outrageous, but the median six-year salary of graduates is $26,700.
What the Earn Spend Live website doesn't tell you is the mission of Harris-Stowe State. It's an urban college in St. Louis, and according to its website has "A statewide mission in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented and under resourced students, offers baccalaureate and select master’s degrees to address the higher education needs of the metropolitan St. Louis region."
US News and World Reports Best Colleges rankings for 2022 has Harris-Stowe State ranked 58-76 in the Regional Colleges Midwest ranking, which is the lowest you can go without being unranked. And ranked 7-12 in Top Public Schools, which actually says something.
I think the Earn Spend Live ranking doesn't tell the whole story about Harris-Stowe State. First, it's geared toward underrepresented and under-resourced students. These students may have other challenges in their life beyond education that can make graduating on time or at all a challenge. Second, Harris-Stowe has its roots as a Normal School, or teaching college. And even today, its degree programs in education, arts and sciences, and businesses, may place people in careers -- where six years down the road graduates aren't making bank in their careers.
All that said, it's easy to crunch numbers and tell people this is a school to avoid. Yet, it doesn't take anything beyond the numbers into account. Harris-Stowe State and its mission in St. Louis is important to the City and the region, and its affordable tuition, just above $5,000 for in-state students, is an affordable higher education option.
While ranking lists are a great resource of information, ya know what's better? Talking to people. Whether you're considering Harris-Stowe, the University of Central Missouri, Mizzou, Central Methodist University, or State Fair Community College. The best thing you can do is talk to students, faculty, and administrators. Take a tour. See if the institution can teach you what you want to learn and if the school is a fit for what you want to learn and if you'd be comfortable there. Cause it's not really about everyone else's experience, it's your experience that matters.