Google's College Search Feature
The college search can be a confusing process for students and families. With so much information out there, it can sometimes be difficult to find the facts or get to the material you're looking for. But the process is a little easier thanks to the college search mobile feature on Google. When you use Google to search for a 4-year U.S. college or university on your mobile device, the first result you'll see will be information related to admissions, cost, and financial aid.
This feature makes the college search process a lot easier. Previously, students looking for information to compare colleges had to go through quite a bit of work. Often times, getting this information required going to each college's website and navigating through different sections in order to piece together information on things like financial aid or the school's acceptance rate. Doing this for every school can be a drain on time and energy.
But with Google, this information is all in one easily accessible place. The information that the search displays includes general statistics such as the acceptance rate, the graduation rate, and the total student enrollment. It also includes cost value topics such as the average cost after financial aid, the typical annual alumnus/a income 10 years after enrollment, the typical total student debt after graduation, and typical monthly loan payment. This information not only helps students with planning in the present, but also helps them think about future goals and if this college seems like an investment that pays off long term.
Students seeking more information can chose from a list of categories at the top including majors, rankings, notable alumni, and even similar colleges.
I was amazed at how easy it is to use. Just for fun, I looked up my alma mater to see how I personally compared to the statistics. It was interesting to see the average student loan debt and average monthly loan payments to compare them against my own experience.
The search feature uses public information from the U.S. Department of Education's College and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). As mentioned above, the feature is available on mobile, though limited aspects are available on desktop as well.
This new tool can be a great additional resource to the college search process. You can see a few examples below. Remember, it's still important to do additional research so you can get a full picture, and visiting a college is the best way to get a feel for the campus and students.