The Corner

Politics & Policy

Using Data to Help Students Make Better College Decisions

Should I attend the most selective college I can get into? Should I attend the least costly? The one with the best football team? The one with the best party scene? Students have often made their college choices on such poor reasons. Data analysis is now helping them to make better decisions.

In today’s Martin Center article, Abigail Burrola of the Show-Me Institute in Missouri looks at the ways high schools are starting to use data to help guide students and show them and their families new information sources.

She writes, “One district in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is capitalizing on data to support students as they choose a college. College counseling there includes software that combines student information with data from past graduates and how they performed at a specific college. College counselors can show soon-to-be graduates where students like themselves have succeeded and where they would be more likely to earn a degree.”

That sounds like a very positive development. Let’s hope it spreads.

Burrola also notes that the Department of Education (in one of its few useful activities) is making college data more accessible for students. And this could continue to improve. She concludes, “As the same families who can access data-rich school report cards see their children enter high school in the coming years, the expectation from families may build pressure to improve college-level scorecards. That could make data analysis the key to helping students succeed in college.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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