Next time users search for a college or university in Google, they’ll get more than a map and logo for the institution in the right-hand side of their browser. Alongside the address and brief Wikipedia synopsis they’ll find information related to student outcomes, such as the graduation rate and the average salary of the university’s graduates.
Working with the U.S. Department of Education, Google has incorporated data from the College Scorecard directly into its search results. “Hundreds of millions of students and families pursue their college questions through Google, where trillions of searches are made every year,” Secretary of Education John King writes in a Google blog post. “By featuring this data front and center, Google is helping more students and families get the information they need when they need it.”
A “Consumer Reports for higher ed,” the College Scorecard includes data on student outcomes for more than 7,000 institutions. Google is simplifying the process of finding that information by surfacing the data as soon as users type in an institution’s name. They’ll immediately view the institution’s graduation rate, average total cost with financial aid, average salary after attending that institution, and updated data on acceptance rate and undergraduate tuition and fees.
“We hope that this near-complete coverage of information for educational institutions will help students have easy access to detailed information and data as they approach decisions about a post-secondary education,” Susan Cadrecha, a communications manager for Google, tells EdSurge. The additional data will not affect a college or university’s search rankings, Cadrecha says.
Some experts have expressed concern about relying on College Scorecard data alone. Time to graduation may be longer at institutions where the majority of students are part-time, for instance, and that might be a positive attribute for some students.
Google’s incorporation of College Scorecard data is among several large-scale efforts to help students understand the costs and benefits of going to college. The Department of Education has been spreading the word about its new early FAFSA application, and next year the FAFSA will direct students to the College Scorecard so they can compare their financial aid estimates with school outcomes. College Board is sharing scorecard data with 100,000 low-income students who receive customized college planning information and support through its Access to Opportunity Program. College Abacus and Pell Abacus are also incorporating the outcomes data into their financial-planning tools.