Saturday, December 18, 2010

College information proposal

A lot of high school seniors are working on college applications. Many spent some time traveling this summer to make college campus visits. The college selection process can be challenging. All the schools tout their information in the best way they can. How do you make sense of it all? Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has an idea on how to make more information available and more easily understood.

As an initial step, the federal government should continue as well as expand its activities to produce the types of information needed to help individuals with their college decisions. There should be information on cost and affordability. In addition to the total cost and net price estimates currently produced, potential students would be given information on aid for low-income students, the debt levels, and loan default rates of previous students. To reflect on the college experience, institutions would continue to report information on expenditures so that current and future students would know where their college is putting their money. Additionally, colleges would be required to give more detailed information on retention and graduation rates, which would then be listed relative to similar peer institutions.
Finally, and perhaps most important, information must be collected on the potential benefits and returns of an institution. Data should be collected on employment rates, salary information, and in acknowledgment that income is not a complete measure of a school’s return, alumni satisfaction rates. Figure 1 summarizes the key pieces of information that would make up a college’s scorecard.
Once the key facts have been collected, this information would then be packaged for families in more usable ways than current efforts. In this paper, I propose three main ways of presenting the college data, each increasing in the level of details given.
You can read the remainder of the article here

Download the introduction and summary (pdf)
Download this report (pdf)

Franklin, MA

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