Abigail Burrola writes for the Martin Center about tools designed to help prospective college students find the right school.

Which college a student chooses to attend is a major decision that can affect the rest of their life. What students want to study, what they can afford to pay, and cultural fit can all influence their choice.

Throughout the process, students have all sorts of vague information, but providing them with data specific to them can help them make smarter college decisions. In fact, many students and families are already using specified data through school report cards to help them pick a high school before they even look at colleges.

Even some of North Carolina’s largest school districts, like Union County Public Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, have started using data resources.

And now, advances in how high schools use college data can help students pick a well-matched college for themselves. As K-12 school report cards become standard practice, college counseling may have to change to meet student expectations for how a specific school will benefit them in the long run.

Some students are indeed lucky enough to access detailed information about their school. One district in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is capitalizing on data to support students as they choose a college. College counseling there includes software that combines student information with data from past graduates and how they performed at a specific college. College counselors can show soon-to-be graduates where students like themselves have succeeded and where they would be more likely to earn a degree.

With that information, students can see which colleges students had trouble in who had similar preparation. Or it can show which colleges are better for them in a particular major than generalized data might show. …

… Parents want to know that their child’s school will prepare them for whatever is next, and while high schools prepare students for college, colleges have the unique responsibility to prepare students for the workforce.