The New College Choice Mentality?

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How should students go about finding the right college? Something about the current process doesn’t quite seem to work. According to an article by Jennifer Feals in the Portsmouth Herald:

Preparing for college is an exciting time, but as costs and student debt continue to rise, it’s also a financially daunting time that requires students and parents to move beyond the “bumper sticker” mentality.

“There was a day when maybe the higher-achieving student was looking for prestige rather than a local option or community college because they were looking for a bumper sticker, and that’s not the case today,” said Tara Payne, vice president of college planning at the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation. “I think students realize that the place where you go to college is not connected to what you are able to earn afterwards.”

That’s certainly an interesting point. The trouble is that now it’s pretty hard to figure out what mentality students are morning toward, or what they should be.

It might be wise for the higher-achieving (or low achieving), debt-adverse student to think beyond a school’s prestige, since prestige can often lead to debt. But what else this there?

Sure students realize that “where you go to college is not connected to what you are able to earn afterwards.” Or, more accurately, college prestige is only very indirectly connected to earnings. But how are students supposed to find the no debt colleges they should to attend to earn big money, if that’s what they want to do?

As I noted earlier this month, students are still very eager to go to brand-name colleges. This probably has to do with the fact that that’s not much objective information out there about college quality. And if the brand is swanky enough, at least students can safely bet the debt will be worth it. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer