The Obama Administration released a new way of looking at and ranking universities called the College Scorecard last week.
President Obama unveiled the scorecard in his weekly address for the week of Sept. 13 saying, “Everyone should be able to find clear, reliable, open data on college affordability and value.”
The College Scorecard website rates universities based on average cost, graduation rate, salary and student debt after graduating and popular programs. According to the Scorecard, at UNC-Greensboro, the average annual cost is $11,010, which includes the cost fluctuations created by financial aid but does not include costs for out of state students.
The Scorecard also shows that the average graduate from UNCG is earning a salary of $37,000 a year and that 82 percent of previous students take on debt. The median federal debt of those students is $22,500.
The College Scorecard differs from traditional ranking systems, as it does not list universities from best to worst. The Obama Administration made this decision after many expressed discontent with ranking the schools.
With the College Scorecard, a university could have a very high graduation rate but a very low rate in salary after attending, and the scorecard doesn’t average that together. According to the U.S. News and World Report website, the way it rates universities is first by putting them into one of four categories: National universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges. Within those categories, it weighs schools based on a long list of criteria, assigning each criterion a weighted value.
According to the U.S. News and World Report’s website, how well educated and how well paid the teachers are covers 20 percent of the final rating while Alumni donations is 5 percent of the final rating.
The U.S. News and World Report’s website puts UNCG at 187th; their website tells us UNCG’s tuition rates in and out of state, how big the school is, what the graduation rate is and what the most popular majors are.
According to an article in The Atlantic, because of the portion of the rating that comes from alumni donations in the U.S. News and World Report’s methodology, Obama says that universities “game the numbers and in some cases, [get rewarded] for raising costs.”
The article states that Obama wants to focus more on making sure that students are going to colleges where they will not only graduate but also be successful. The U.S. Department of Education’s website states it wants prospective students to “get the most bang for your educational buck.”
Dr. Brett Carter, the dean of students at UNCG, says that he thinks the Obama Administration has “good intentions” with this scorecard but that he doesn’t really think it’s possible to quantify a college experience.
Carter says that “UNCG tries to create a culture of care” and that there’s no real way to show that care in the numbers. He continued, saying that “more needs to be taken into consideration.”
Previously, prospective college students have relied on the U.S. News and World Report or the Princeton Review to rank their college choices, but this new system of scoring has given them another option.
Many organizations and universities have tried to rank colleges in a variety of ways in order to help students decide where they want to go. According to the Princeton Review’s website, they survey thousands of students in order to compile their list of top schools.
Washington Monthly’s website states that it rates universities based on social mobility, research and service such as the Peace Corps and ROTC. The Obama Administration’s focus on outcomes can give students another outlet for choosing which college will be best for them.