Rethinking Consumer Information in Higher Education
Study: Potential Earnings Not Critical In High School Students’ College Choices
By MorraLee Keller, Director of Technical Assistance
The Urban Institute recently released the report “Rethinking Consumer Information in Higher Education,” which shares insights regarding the influence that job earnings have on high school students who are selecting their college or major. This report shares results of a three-year effort working with 25 high schools in Virginia. The Urban Institute developed an informational website that displays academic major-level earnings and other data points and collected data to assess the tool’s effects on high school students’ college-going behavior. The report assessed the demand for and impact of program-level information on labor market outcomes. Some schools in the study received a control version of the website that did not contain the labor market outcome information.
This work may be best summed up in the report’s conclusion that “policymakers should not assume that providing more information, on its own, is likely to solve any of the shortcomings of the US higher education systems.” Potential wage earnings data should be considered as another tool in our toolbox as we advise students towards their college and career path. We know this is a significant data point, but perhaps one with more influence on adult learners than our high school seniors.
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