Choosing College

How We Can Help Students Make Better Decisions?
New America

It’s that time of year when recent high school grads load up the family car with their possessions and head to State U or a private liberal arts college to spend the next four years coming of age in a cozy, residential, campus environment. But what people don’t realize is that many students entering college for the first time are not coming straight from high school. Instead, they’re often entering higher education while working full- or part-time. Most students don’t fit the traditional archetype that society tends to think of when they picture college students.

The current research base on how students—especially older, “nontraditional” students— decide to attend and pay for college is incredibly thin. A lack of understanding about nontraditional students encourages policymakers to craft policies that are targeted only to a narrow subset of college students. It also promotes a system where students lack key information to help inform their decisions.

Recent survey research from New America and Public Agenda aims to help practitioners, researchers and policymakers better understand the expectations and concerns of today’s students and the factors they consider when choosing a college. How can the findings of these surveys help inform policymaking focused on improving student outcomes, particularly as Congress looks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act? How can we help prospective students have a better understanding of which college will be the right fit for them?

Join New America and Public Agenda for a presentation of their respective surveys with a follow-up panel discussion with researchers and policymakers.

Follow the discussion online using #CollegeDecisions and following @NewAmericaEd and @PublicAgenda.


9:00 AM: Breakfast and Registration

9:30 AM: Welcome and Opening Presentation

Rachel Fishman
Senior Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program, New America
Author of the College Decisions Series

Carolin Hagelskamp
Director of Research, Public Agenda
Author of Is College Worth it For Me?

10:00 AM: Panel Discussion

Kevin Fudge
Manager of Government Relations and Community Affairs, American Student Assistance

John Pryor
Principal, Pryor Education Insights

Carrie Warick
Director of Partnerships and Policy, National College Access Network


Libby Nelson
Education Reporter, Vox

This event is presented in partnership with: