College Scorecard – The Verdict’s Still Out

Earlier this month, the Obama administration rolled out the College Scorecard, a database that provides free information on higher education institutions‘ annual cost, students’ earnings after graduation, graduation rates and more. The website was published in lieu of a college ranking system proposed by President Obama in 2013, which was met with criticism and suspicion across the board.

The standardized information is easily accessible to all audiences, but there are a few qualms: The Hechinger Report states that this information has historically been made available, with more depth, by several states; a fifth of community colleges are being left out because they “primarily” offer award certificates, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education; and, after some calculating, NPR is questioning whether the new tool is helpful at all.

It also fails to take into account field of study. Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “…it appears the system only provides a single number for an entire institution regardless of whether a student studied chemical engineering or philosophy, and only includes the earnings of federal student-loan borrowers.”

Despite problems with the College Scorecard in its current form, it appears to provide prospective students and parents an additional source of information that can aid decision making or help them raise new questions when comparing options.  As the fall recruitment season gets into full swing, we’ll soon learn whether or not it’s having any influence in the marketplace. What do you think? Valuable new tool or a limited repackaging of already available info?

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