Obama’s College Scorecard greeted with mixed reviews

The White House released its interactive College Scorecard following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Feb. 12.

Obama delivered on his promise for the scorecard that creates a system to rank the educational value of American colleges and universities.

However, that is where the problem lies for Los Rios faculty Union President Jason Newman.

“[It’s] a bad idea,” he said. “The scorecard makes artificial comparisons between colleges.”

The scorecard allows parents and students to look at at a college’s cost, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing and employment. It also gives students a glimpse at location, campus setting and majors.

“I would use it, definitely,” 20-year-old pharmacy major Marco Carillo said. “It lets me see what majors they [colleges] specialize in.”

Transfer director David Aagaard seems to agree with Carillo. “Getting info out to students is always a good idea,” he said via phone.

However, he also said students need to “be careful not to give too much power to one source.”

That seemed to be the mantra when the scorecard was first released. According to The New York Times, some of the data is a few years old and is presented in averages that might not be relevant to all families.

“It’s misleading for students,” Newman said. “It emphasizes dollars over the full spectrum of going to college.”

Along with outdated information, one of the much anticipated elements of the scorecard is not yet available. The tool would show students how the recent graduates of the universities have fared in the job market and how much money they are making.

However, that tool does not exist yet. The interactive scorecard says the Department of Education is working on it. That ability may also be illegal at this point.

The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act prohibits the government from keeping that kind of information.

“[It] would track only the first job out of college,” Newman said. “Of course its less pay than future jobs.”

While speculation of that part of the scorecard is mostly negative, some aspects of the tool were greeted positively.

Aagaard said that cost of college is one of the primary things that students should consider before transferring, but it is not the only thing to consider.

“It’s all important,” he said. “It’s one source of info that students can use to research.”

Newman also said there is useful information on the scorecard.

“Knowing the loan default rate [of colleges] is helpful,” he said. “Debt stuff is important, jobs are not.”

While the scorecard was greeted with controversy, Aagaard did not rule it out as something the CRC transfer and counseling centers might utilize in the future.

“As it comes out and we see more of it, we may,” he said.