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A College information Tool for Students & Parents

Another Tool for Students and Parents during the College Application Process


            Although not the college ranking system he had hoped for, President Obama announced a new website resource for students and parents on September 12th to navigate the college application and selection process: Rather than ranking colleges, the new site allows students and parents to compare colleges by average annual cost, graduation rates, and salaries (10 years after graduation). “As one tool to have access to a quick snapshot, it can be helpful, but there are so many aspects to college life,” explained Gina Christel, Director of Guidance for Garden City Public Schools. “All the various ranking tools have value; the new website is a quick way for parents to see return-on-investment (ROI), but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There are no indicators for satisfaction, for example, or for selection rates. Every child is different and requires the kind of college environment where he or she can thrive. The more information students and parents can obtain beforehand, the better.”

            The “Check Out These Schools” section of the site allows comments which provide insight into the missing pieces Mrs. Christel refers to. Who is included in the salary sample? How are regional cost of living variances calculated into the posted salaries? What are the percentages of low income students attending and graduating in four years from these schools? What are the average SAT/ACT scores of the freshman class?

            Mrs. Christel points out another recent important resource: every college accepting government support must now post a “Net Price Calculator” on its website to inform parents of the real cost of the school. Parents fill in the required fields and the calculator will inform of the bottom line cost based on their unique financial situations. “Students and parents should carefully research the schools they are interested in and weigh many factors before making their decision including cost, financial aid, school size, public or private preference, and the alignment of the student’s academic interest and goals with schools that excel in those areas.”