‘A Blunt Instrument’

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama announced a new College Scorecard that would help prospective college students “compare schools based on a simple criteria — where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”

And those are just the problems that colleges and university leaders have with it – it’s too simple and too focused on finance.

After the White House unveiled the new scorecard Wednesday, some educators quickly expressed reservations that the tool presented an oversimplified view of the college-selection process focused exclusively on the short-term financial ramifications of a degree. In particular, the concerns are coming from institutions and organization that promote a liberal arts education rather than job-specific training, whose leaders worry that the lack of other information could potentially lead to students and parents making bad decisions.

The scorecard presents information about default and graduation rates, average borrowing amounts, price and postgraduate employment at a selected institution. Wealthy institutions where borrowing is minimal will likely look good in some of the data points. So will institutions that educate students in technical or professional fields that tend to result in higher salaries, particularly right out of college.

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