College Scorecard: a website every student needs for career/college planning


graphic by Kayley Russell

This graph puts the College Scorecard results of four colleges side by side.

by Kayley Russell, Reporter

For seniors the deadline for applying to University of Maryland is November 1st. For seniors who are just now considering applying, it is almost too late to get started. Making decisions about important factors such as tuition, location, school size can be very overwhelming. Many students don’t know what exactly to research  or where to research, so they shut down.

In 2013 the U.S. Department of Education created College Scorecard and recently made significant updates. This is a powerful tool for everyone considering post high school education.

At first I had a wild dream to attend an out of state college 2,782 miles away on the West Coast in Washington state. I also dreamed about attending a college in South Carolina (before the flood). In both cases, I was motivated by friends and family; however, I haven’t made up my mind.  I have made up my mind about my major in English and Creative Writing. I hope that one day I will be an accomplished author. When researching colleges, I not only look at the tuition and size of the campuses; also I look for colleges that have great programs for creative writing and English majors.

College Scorecard is a fantastic website. Its purpose is to inform students and families about critical information needed to make wise decisions about where to enroll in higher education. The Scorecard gives great statistics about a school’s  average graduation rate, average annual cost, financial aid information, and average salary rates after attending. The website is easy to use, and it narrows searches on important  factors that should matter to most students.

Once I visited the website, it opened my eyes about what I want in a college and helped me narrow my school choices down to four colleges: Central Washington University, University of South Carolina, Eastern Washington University, and Coastal Carolina University.  As a junior, I feel I have made a solid start.

I used College Scorecard to compare the colleges that I am interested in.  For instance, Eastern Washington University has an average graduation rate of 42% and a an average salary after attending is $40,500. However compared to University of South Carolina-Columbia’s graduation rate is 73% and the average salary earned is $42,100, it might be in my best interest to chose South Carolina over Eastern Washington.

When attending college you want to surround yourself with people who also want to be there and strive to learn. Colleges with higher graduation rates means people who attend there actually want to be there. Colleges with higher average salaries earned after college show the students who used what they learned in college to get jobs.

Junior Bri Boivin is eager to research about colleges. “I never heard of College Scorecard. After learning about it, I am definitely going to use the website to help me research more about.”

It can be a struggle for high school students to evaluate their wants and needs. College Scorecard is a great compliment to the school college planning program Naviance.

When interviewed by The Boston Globe  about his general impression of Scorecard,  current president of the University of Massachusetts Martin Meehan gave the College Scorecard mixed reviews.  His biggest complaint was that an individual students who leaves one college to continue and graduate from another will still be counted as not completing the first college.  There are more detailed points that College Scorecard might not capture.

If you are still not comfortable with what specific factors you may want in a college, don’t worry. Casey Slide a writer for the website “Money Crashers” wrote an article explaining 33 Factors for how to choose a college. Her article lists factors that students may take for granted when researching about colleges. These include faculty to student ratio, job opportunities right after graduation, Greek life, etc.

Another method of familiarizing yourself with colleges beyond internet research is college fairs. College fairs can help students evaluate their wants and needs with what they want in a college and see if there are any colleges that interest them at the fair. After attending the college fair at FCC on October 7th, it made me greatly consider my college options and gave me a great amount of information.