Colleges Should Help Would-Be Students Make Responsible Choices

To the Editor:

A meaningful and fair gainful-employment rule is an important first step in protecting students from unscrupulous higher-education providers (“Gainful Employment: What’s New? What’s Missing? And To Whom Does That Matter?” The Chronicle, March 17). Higher-education leaders and policymakers should also pursue a complementary strategy that gives students themselves more agency as consumers.

As it stands, many students are not discerning when it comes to choosing a college. Just four in 10 students who currently attend either a for-profit or community college considered more than one college before deciding where to enroll. Many prospective students also don’t consider data like graduation or loan-default rates to be essential when selecting a college.

Even the best-designed gainful-employment rule may contain loopholes that leave students vulnerable. Further, regulations will take some time to implement, and colleges will have a couple of years to adjust their programs found not up to par.

Providing students with the best opportunity for a financially and professionally stable future will require both top-down and bottom-up efforts. By engaging students more deeply on college choice and quality data, they will gain the knowledge and understanding they need to become informed and responsible decision makers.

Will Friedman
Public Agenda
New York

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