Students & Workers

Choosing Colleges and Careers

People choosing a college—whether they be a graduating high school student or a working adult looking to go back to school—want the type of information provided by strong data systems. For example, when asked about which factors were "very important" in choosing their school, more than half of 2012 freshman surveyed at four-year colleges and universities said they wanted to know whether graduates get good jobs, and almost a third cited graduation rates and whether former students went on to top graduate or professional schools.

Workers trying to upgrade their skills or train for a new career need similar types of data when selecting a college or training program. In this changing economy, it is challenging to decide what type of program would be a smart investment. Are a majority of program graduates getting jobs? What is the average starting salary, and are salaries growing over time? What is the outlook for jobs that use these skills?

Students and workers also need accessible and up-to-date information about current and future job openings in their region, and of the skill and credential expectations of employers hiring for those positions, so they can make informed career choices.

Right now, many students and workers are relying on anecdotal stories of student success, incomplete data on student outcomes, or confusing job projections.

Systems that link education and workforce data over time can give students and workers better information about results from different schools and programs. Clear and comprehensive labor market information can identify which skills and occupations will be in demand. All this data can help students and workers make better choices for the future.          

See state examples