With a government grading system, President Obama thought he’d be providing a valuable service to the millions of students and families trying to make wise decisions about colleges. After all, economic figures show startling (and increasing) differences in earning power between college-educated and those without degrees. But there are 7,000-plus schools to choose from in the US, and most people enter the process without much independent guidance. Yet Obama’s plan to rank colleges, announced two years ago, met with resistance from the colleges themselves. Those institutions clearly prefer to communicate with prospective students through their own marketing materials — that’s much more amenable than any third party assessment.
This week Obama dropped the grading part of his college info initiative, but the Department of Education did launch an information-rich website about the nation’s higher education institutions. The President may have been taking inspiration from Internet entrepreneur and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, who also quit trying to make college grades (at Harvard) and decided instead to build a website. You may have heard of it. Facebook?