Over the past three years, Binghamton University has become my home, so it’s difficult to remember a time when it was just one option out of many schools. At the time, I felt as if I had an impossible decision to make. Although picking a college is a foggy, distant memory, we all remember the painful, anxiety-filled process. What makes this process even worse is the strange and almost arbitrary ranking of schools. So much emphasis is placed on average SAT and ACT scores and acceptance rates, rather than focusing on important factors in the college decision equation.
President Barack Obama’s College Scorecard website helps students evaluate and choose between different schools by comparing the details and numbers that matter. Yes, I believe it is important to pick a school based on more than just hard numbers. It is important to feel out the university and see if it can become your home for the next four years.
But if we’re going to discuss and compare statistics when ranking schools, let’s pick the right numbers to compare. After four years at a university, is anyone going to care about your ACT and SAT scores? A university’s highly praised, low acceptance rate is not going to necessarily make you a more marketable job candidate.
Obama’s College Scorecard ranks schools and lists important factors for an applicant to consider. The three main rates highlighted are average cost, graduation rate and salary after attending. Attending college is an investment in your future. Before picking a school, an applicant should measure out the cost with the potential future outcome.
The website also allows students to see, on average, how much student loan debt current students are graduating with. This is another factor that is much more useful in measuring a college’s value than the College Board’s mere glance at average test scores.
Obama’s College Scorecard is a step in the right direction. Choosing a university should be a decision that comes down to two factors. One, an applicant should be able to see him or herself as a student at that university. But beyond the gut feeling upon a college visit, an applicant should weigh the costs and potential outcomes. If a university has good job placement, low rates of student loans and high graduation rates, that has more value than a 2400 average SAT score.