Editor’s Note: The way students are choosing college is rapidly changing due to economic considerations. This tool could have a direct effect on your institution’s enrollment rate if implemented in your state.

Reader Question: Do you think this tool can accurately guide prospective students on their college choice? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or take our short poll on Page 2.

Janeth Mancha, a high school senior at MESA High School in Colorado, said she originally wanted to major in theater. But thanks to her state’s new data-based online college choice tool, she quickly realized a double major in both theater and business was a better option.

“I had a reality check in what I wanted to do,” said Mancha about Colorado’s “Launch My Career” tool. “When I saw my return on investment [ROI] for theater was negative, I realized that maybe that wasn’t my best option. From that day on, I thought about other things that I love to do, and how I can incorporate my passion for theater in another career.”

Calculating Mancha’s ROI for not only her major but her college choice wasn’t speculative. Instead, it’s one of the many valuable data-based insights part of a new generation of free college planning tools being rolled out by USA Funds, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Gallup and the American Institutes for Research/College Measures.

Rather than just providing one specific set of data to students, such as cost of a major, or average national employment rate via major, the tool puts all metrics into one tool for students interested in attending a college or university within a specific state. All metrics are state-specific as well.

“What I really liked about this website is that I could choose the lifestyle that I want when I grow up. I could see if I could afford a brand new car or if I would have to buy a used one. I could see if I could live in a house or if I would have to live in a studio,” explained Mancha. “Based on the lifestyle I want, being a theater major would not allow me to have children, or live in anything more than a studio. This tool helped me decide what would be best for me and my future, and any arrangements I would have to make to ensure I live the life I want.”

(Next page: How the college choice tool works; its metrics; future rollouts)

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.


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