How to Get the Information You Need about a Prospective Coll

by Vault Education Editors | July 15, 2009

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Are colleges withholding vital information from prospective students? Everyone puts the best versions of themselves forward when meeting--or recruiting--new people. Would you ever tell someone baldness runs in your family on your first date? Would you expect a prospective employer to tell you that the office is too cold? In the same way, colleges don't like to tell prospective students some of the statistics and other information that would make them appear less-than-stellar.

On Sunday, CNNMoney.com's blog, Money & Main St., ran a post called"The statistics colleges hate to share." It argues that higher education has insulated itself to the extent that individual colleges are not compelled to give students the information they need to make the best decision when choosing between schools. It says, "Little of the data that colleges provide really tell you much about the value of your investment: the quality of the education, the experience of the students, or how the graduates fare later in life."

Luckily, there are many different ways to learn that all-important information: graduation rates, employment statistics, faculty quality, etc. They just aren't in the promotional copy the school posts on its website. As much as we hate to admit it, rankings are a fine place to start when comparing schools. Although--as we know very well--rankings are skewed and often gamed, the data schools submit covers some of the mysteries and ugly truths withheld from prospective students. So rankings offer a comparison of schools based on the information most applicants can't see, though specific numbers may not be available.

Other organizations also regularly publish reports and studies about trends in higher education. As cited in Money & Main St. and described in an earlier Admit One post, the American Enterprise Institute recently published a study about graduation rates that compared schools within certain brackets. The National Association of Colleges and Employers also publishes an annual survey of student employment. So, rising high school seniors, parents and other prospective students, the information is out there--colleges just aren't including it in their brochures and first-date college fair pitches.

Filed Under: Education

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