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Students Weigh In on Factors for New College Rating System

As the Obama administration crafts its new college rating system, much of the feedback has come from the vocal, and somewhat skeptical, higher education community.

Now, high school and college students are chiming in with a new poll showing most would welcome the new resource and 51 percent would likely use it when searching for a college.

The national poll of 446 high school students and 922 college students was conducted in early January by Chegg, a company that runs The Student Hub website. Results were released Jan. 21.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released a framework for the new federal rating system that is aimed at making institutions be more transparent about access, cost, and performance so students can make informed choices about college value.

Among the many factors being considered in the system, high school and college students together said, the most important factor is the percentage of graduates working in their field one to five years after graduation and the overall ability of students to repay their student loans.

When high school students alone were asked about the access criteria, they were most interested in the system including information about a college's ability to provide academic support (72 percent of high school students said this was very important); to provide career guidance (67 percent said this was very important); and the school's ability to offer internships (60 percent ranked it as very important.)

Something respondents said was missing from  the proposed framework was student voice.

Students polled by Chegg said they wished a "student satisfaction" metric would be part of the system to reflect how current students and alumni felt about their experience on a particular campus. This measure would be relevant to 80 percent of high school and 70 percent of college students, according to the survey. It would be a "very important" criteria in the college-selection process to 60 percent of respondents overall.

Plans are to roll out the new rating system by the 2015-16 academic year. Officials have said colleges would not be numerically ranked, but rather rated in broad categories. The Education Department is continuing to solicit feedback as it works to likely narrow down and refine the 11 metrics announced last year.

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