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U.S. Department of Education New Transparent Higher Education Data: A Proposal

The new proposal by the U.S. Department of Education to allow for higher education transparent data is wonderful but will hit snags as it enters the comment phase of the process.  Most higher education programs do not wish the student’s nor the parents to understand the cost or other factors of their programs.  The higher education consortiums, in the past, considered this type of proposal paramount to making higher education institutions more akin to businesses and competition than the old accepted concept of ‘blessing’ the student with their knowledge.

The present process for a parent or student to gain enough knowledge about a higher education institute, and its programs require multiple searches through pages of data that becomes tiresome, frustrating and finally unreachable in any common-sense approach.  Thus, most students do not know where their program may stand in relation to others in their areas or in other states.  Just the way higher education wishes it to be.  Listen to higher education commercials.  They do not wish you to go forth and seek information that will help you make a truly educational and economical decision.  Instead, see their new labs, new tech departments, great athletic programs and other colorful and exciting (too young people) items.

The present U.S. Department of Education proposes that all higher education programs simply list for a student or parent where the program will lead.  It proposes that a student or parent be able to see debt levels necessary to attend and complete, accreditation with the state, consistency with licensure requirements after program completion and gainful employment opportunities.  Those type of facts become very sobering to the parent and hopefully to the student to be.  It should the present debt to graduation rates are the highest they have ever been in this country.  Program to licensure completion is well below acceptable levels, and the present cadre of higher education professionals simply wish for all of this to go away.

As a retired professor for many years in higher education, I was always shocked by the students who picked the program for cost and no other reason.  The ability to offer online and timelines to completion was another drawing factor.  All these areas are important but if the program does not help or support the student to complete the state licensure program for gainful employment; did the other items of cost and speed really help the final goal?  If the program had the student reach a level of debt well beyond the ability to pay; did it help reach the final goal?

I look forward to the public comments on this new proposal.  I mainly will watch how many of my colleagues from higher education blast this proposal as merely another nail in the coffin to bring down institutions of higher and place them in the marketplace.

Finally, in my estimation, the marketplace is where it should have been all along.  We are not blessed to go to college; instead, we are required.  This requirement is necessary to create the freedom to move forward economically and socially.  In other words, go into debt, do your time (ignore the cost) and you to can purchase your freedom.  I propose saying, “good luck,” to the Secretary of Education but transparency is the last thing higher education will support.

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