A college or career school education = more money, more job options, and more freedom. Yet, with more than 7,000 colleges and universities nationwide, deciding which college is right for you can be difficult. Maybe you want to find a school with the best nursing program, or study abroad options, or the best college basketball team; every person values different things. However, it’s also important to remember that college is one of the biggest financial investments you will make in yourself. Just as important as academics and extracurricular activities are the financial factors: how much a college costs, whether students are likely to graduate on time, and, if alumni are able to find good jobs and pay off their loans. That is why the U.S. Department of Education developed the College Scorecard. It provides clear information to answer all of your questions regarding college costs, graduation, debt, and post-college earnings.
As you’re comparing colleges, use the College Scorecard to compare these four things:1. Net Cost
For starters, you should consider how much you’ll actually be paying on an annual basis. That’s not necessarily the sticker price, but it’s the sticker price minus all of the scholarships and grants that you will receive when enrolling in an institution. This is called the net price, and it’s important because it’s the average amount students actually pay out of pocket. The College Scorecard can show you the average net price of each school compared to the national average. It can also give you a net price estimate for each school broken down by family income. Here’s an example:
2. Graduation Rate
Next, you should consider a school’s graduation rate as a factor when choosing a college. College graduation rates refer to the percentage of undergraduate students who complete their program within 150% of the standard time for the program. For example, for a four-year degree program, entering students who complete their degrees within six years are counted in that school’s graduation rate. You want to attend a college that has a high graduation rate. A college’s graduation rate gives a good indication if students who attend that institution are likely to end up with a degree. Retention rate is the percentage of a school’s first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year. For example, a student who studies full-time in the fall semester and keeps on studying in the program in the next fall semester is counted in this rate. The College Scorecard can help you find schools that have a high rate of success among their students from a particular college. Here’s an example:
View a list of 30 four-year institutions that have high graduation rates and low costs for their lowest-income students.3. Students Paying Down Their Debt
In addition to costs, you may consider if students are able to repay their loans after attending a college or career school. The Scorecard can help you find out the amount of debt that you can expect to take on at an institution and the percentage of students who are able to repay that debt upon leaving. This is one of the most important factors to consider, as you may not want to attend and institution where you are expected to take out lots of loans and have little chance of repaying them in the future.
With the cost of college continuing to increase, salary has become a critical factor students and families take into account when considering college choices. Knowing how much students typically earn after attending an institution will help you find out if students were able to find a good paying job, pay off their student loans, and have a financially secure future. Luckily, the Scorecard contains comprehensive and reliable data on post-college earnings for students who attended all types of undergraduate institutions. The new Scorecard includes:
- The proportion of former students earning over $25,000, which is the average earnings of high school graduates; and
- The median earnings of students 10 years after they enroll in a particular college.
Here’s an example of what the Scorecard will show you:
Learn more information on post-college earnings and a list of 15 public four-year colleges with high graduation leading to high incomes.
A college degree is the best investment you can make for your future. It’s important that you choose a school that will give you the skills and a degree that employers value, while allowing you to earn a comfortable living.
Are you ready to begin your college search? If so, visit the College Scorecard today!
Michael Itzkowitz serves as the Director of the College Scorecard at the U.S. Department of Education.
Cross-posted from the Stopbullying Blog.
States and districts are increasingly in support of policies and practices that shift school discipline away from zero tolerance, such as suspension and expulsion, to discipline that is focused on teaching and engagement. To this effort, districts and states are rethinking discipline and adopting both Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) and Bullying Prevention (BP) as school-wide efforts to provide school staff with a set of preventative and responsive strategies to supporting positive student behaviors.What are Restorative Justice Practices?
Restorative Justice Practices are a set of informal and formal strategies intended to build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing, and respond to wrongdoings, with the intention to repair any harm that was a result of the wrongdoing. Preventative strategies include community or relationship building circles, and the use of restorative language. Some responsive strategies include the use of Restorative Questions within a circle or conferencing format, again with the intention of repairing the wrong that happened as a result of the behavior. The Restorative Questions, while varied in exact language, ask the student to consider: what happened? who did it impact? how do you make it right?What is Bullying Prevention?
Bullying Prevention involves explicitly teaching students how to treat each other respectfully (i.e. what respect looks like in their school)and how students, including bystanders and the student who is bullied, should respond when peers are not being respectful (i.e. Stop, Walk and Talk),. Also important, is how adults respond to bullying and they help reduce peer verbal and physical aggression (i.e. prompt the student to use the Stop, Walk and Talk response).
Both RJP and BP provide explicit guidelines for students and staff on their interactions with one another to prevent and respond to problem behavior in a dignified, problem-solving manner. They are also both in alignment with the preventative, research-validated framework of School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (SWPBIS). Within SWPBIS, school teams define, instruct, and reinforce appropriate social behaviors in the same manner they teach academic content. SWPBIS is data-driven; through regular review of student behavioral progress educators are equipped with real time information necessary for organize school resources to meet the social needs of all students. SWPBIS provides a strong platform for the adoption of RJP and BP because it allows educators to see the impact of both the preventative and responsive strategies within the school. Here are some examples of how schools are merging RJP and BP with SWPBIS.
Monitoring for Student SuccessSWPBIS Define, Teach and Acknowledge School-Wide Expectations Reductions in discipline referrals
Improvements on Climate or perception surveys on staff, student, and family perceptions of school safety, support, and a sense of community BP Define, teach, practice and acknowledge respectful student to student interactions RJP Establish Community Building Circles in alignment with school-wide expectations.
Monitoring for Student SuccessSWPBIS Define teacher responses to problem behavior. Reductions in discipline referrals
Improvements on Climate or perception surveys on staff, student, and family perceptions of school safety, support, and a sense of community BP Define staff responses to bullying to consistently reteach and reinforce expected behavior. RJP Define staff and administrative responses to problem behaviors to include Restorative Questions, Dialogue and Plans.
Jessica Swain-Bradway, Ph.D., is a former high school teacher and research associate at the University of Oregon and is currently the Research and Evaluation Director for Midwest PBIS Network www.midwestpbis.org. Dr. Swain-Bradway’s main areas for training and evaluation include multi-tiered systems of behavior support in high schools, the alignment of academic and social supports for the secondary classroom and Restorative Justice Practices within a School-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (SWPBIS) frame.