- The College and Career Interest Task Force in Illinois is looking at ways to stem the flood of high school graduates attending colleges in other states and is set to present several options to the Illinois legislature by Jan. 30, Chalkbeat reports.
- Among the committee's considerations are ways to provide public universities with better access to student data, especially about students’ attitudes and interest in college, so these institutions can find ways to make themselves more attractive to students. They currently purchase data gained during the SAT from the College Board, an action that some committee members feel is illegal and others feel is ineffective, since private schools usually purchase the data sooner.
- The committee is considering gaining this data by using its own state-administered survey, and another option on the table is the creation of new scholarship opportunities for students who score in the top 10% of their graduating class.
The idea of sharing student information with universities may help students gain more information about possible college opportunities. However, state and school leaders need to keep in mind the type of data being shared and how well personal information is being protected. The information also should only be shared with the student’s permission. Once colleges obtain the information, the student is likely to be inundated with appeals to apply from various colleges, and not all students will want to deal with that onslaught.
However, for students who are looking at college options, the opportunity to examine these options more closely may be helpful. For students reluctant to apply for fear of rejection, the targeted information sent to them may encourage them to pursue the possibilities. Colleges also benefit by having the opportunity to shape programs according to student interests gained via the data.
However, the best way to encourage student attendance at public colleges would be to make public colleges more affordable. In Illinois, for instance, in-state tuition costs are significantly higher than the national average, and the cost of living is higher as well. In fact, the out-of-state tuition rate in nine states is cheaper than the in-state tuition rate at most Illinois state colleges. Students looking for the best bargain in education may be tempted to look outside the state for college choices, so bringing that cost more in line with other states may be an option to consider.
Illinois is not the only state to see dramatic increases in the cost of college attendance. According to an article by CNBC, the average cost of attendance to public four-year institutions has experienced a 213% increase in the past 30 years, compared to a 129% increase for private non-profit four-year institutions. This increase, which outpaces inflation in most other areas, adds to student debt and forces students to consider whether a college degree is worth it. As colleges look for ways to attract high school students, finding ways to rein in costs needs to be a top priority.