College should be like buying a car

Keaon Dousti University student

John Doe is preparing to apply for college, and his parents are looking to buy a used car for him as a graduation gift. They look online, comparing Car A and Car B, researching their histories. 
 
The next week, John’s parents sit down with him to look at colleges. They try to research the history of average student loan debt and employment rate post-graduation. 
 
To help them, bipartisan support has introduced the Student Right To Know Before You Go Act. Parents and prospective students will be able to compare institutions based on graduation rates, post-graduation earnings by major and employment outcomes through a federal database. This information, some of which universities already collect,
will now be made public online for easier access.
 
Some critics argue that making earnings data public will drive students to choose majors with higher-paying salaries over lower-paying careers that are critical to society. Others fear an individual’s privacy is at stake when this information is available online.
 
The opposition’s two main arguments fall short. First, the act is not driving students toward a specific major, but instead it is equipping students to understand whether University A can place them in employment after school better than University B.
 
Second, in response to those who wish to veil their institutions from public scrutiny, the database would have strict safeguards, making it unrealistic that information will be traced back to an individual. Furthermore, the database would be audited for data quality, reliability and validity. 
 
The only institutions fearing this transparency are those that are failing to properly prepare students for the labor market. In fact, much opposition comes from for-profit schools. These institutions account for nearly one-third of all student loans in the United States, yet they make up only 13 percent of enrolled students.
 
We have students spending tens of thousands of dollars on the biggest investment of their lives, yet they know almost nothing about what to expect while at school and after.
 
We would not buy a car without researching the facts, so why do we go blindfolded into college?