College Factual will even generate a tailored series of key questions parents or students should ask a college when comparing options. “We’re trying to be a force of change by empowering consumers to ask tough questions,” Mr. Phelan says.
People often look at student-faculty ratios, for instance, but they may not have thought to ask how many of the faculty are full-time and focused on teaching. College Factual provides such comparison points.
Parents have been spending a lot of time on the portion of the site that allows exploration of college majors – helping to identify which colleges graduate large numbers of students within a given area of interest, for instance, or finding “clusters of excellence” within a college, Phelan says.
That’s because choosing a college is just one part of forging an affordable path to a degree. When students change majors, it can cost them an additional year or more of school.
College Factual offers free comprehensive data comparisons, and will eventually expand from four-year colleges to two-year schools and graduate schools, as well. But the for-profit company will also begin offering a $49-a-year option with additional tools to help students determine their own preferences and temperament and identify schools and majors that might be a good fit. It's a way to “find your future faster for less than the price of a tank of gas,” Phelan says.
The professional networking site LinkedIn.com has decided it can offer something unique to prospective college students, as well: access to data about – and connections with -- thousands of global alumni who can help students envision a path to college and various careers they, perhaps, had never considered.