Though it has been sometime in the making the Federal College Scorecard site is up and running.
The site uses a combination of Federal data sources including loan and tax return data. The upside of this is the documentation that goes with the site here, contains a wealth of information on how the analysis was done, what data sources were used, and instructions how to tap into (or download) the data using a pretty straightforward API.
There is much discussion concerning the pros and cons of using the data this way. Each position is worth a read. You can read a sample of the concerns from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The issues raised include fears that this represents another step in the view that Higher Ed Institutions can be viewed as and shopped for. While there is lots of data present here, there is also the underlying worry that the data is incomplete, or provides a skewed view of the institutions.
As with any new data source it is worth a look, especially with the open nature and full descriptions of the data used.
Site – College Scorecard
SJU Information – St. John’s University
There are also a number of nice US Department of Education Blog posts available on their HomeRoom Blog. For College Scorecard specific posts, have a look here.
This type of data is definitely the direction that the new knowledge based society is taking us in. It provides a snapshot of how students fair after school and it deeply lists the data sources that were used. Incomplete or not, there is only going to be more data like this released and used.
Jeffrey Selingo has published an interesting article on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s site, regarding the bachelor’s degree and his opinion of a proposed makeover. The general point of the article is that institutions of higher education should offer bachelor’s degrees that meet both students’ aspirations and needs at the same time. As the economy shifts and changes (or remains stagnant), the article proposes that the bachelor’s degree be reworked somehow. One interesting example given, is from Stanford University.
Dubbed the “open loop” university, this plan would admit students at 18 but give them six years of access to residential learning opportunities, to use anytime in their life. Such a path through college could shift our deep-rooted cultural belief that college is something young people do, and would make alternative pathways, such as gap years and low-residency colleges, more acceptable to those students who wouldn’t benefit from the typical campus experience.
We always need to look for ways to be ahead of the curve in higher education. Whether this relates to distance learning, study abroad, assessment technology and techniques, or general change to degrees and programs, it is essential for all higher education professionals to look for the writing on the wall, and make change when necessary. I agree that an examination of the bachelor’s degree is required. Figuring our where and what to reorganize, is where the true work begins.