Putting Education Reform To The Test

Explaining How A Florida College Database Might Help You Earn $6,500 More

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A new state database can help students compare how much graduates at different colleges with the same degree earn.

Need help deciding on a college?

A new web tool from the Florida Department of Education enables students and parents to wade through the options.

The Smart College Choices web portal lays out graduation rates, employment statistics and earnings data for graduates of Florida’s 28 public institutions.

Users can see how much money graduates in certain degree and certificate programs can expect to earn. They can also see the percentage of graduates who got jobs in Florida.

The data is from the 2009-10 school year.

For example, someone interested in being a crime scene technician will see that 13 students completed the program at Hillsborough Community College. Eleven of them got jobs making an average annual full-time wage of $38,104.

The same program at nearby St. Petersburg College yielded 30 students who completed the program, with 22 getting jobs. Their average annual full-time wage is much lower at $31,612 — nearly $6,500 difference from Hillsborough Community College graduates.

Users can also focus on a particular college or university. Click on Miami Dade College, and you’ll find data on 121 programs offered there.

“Florida’s future depends on a well-trained workforce, and this tool will allow Floridians to spend their time and money wisely when deciding on a career path,” said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna.

The portal utilizes information from the Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program.

Education leaders hope the information will help reduce the number of students who are bogged down with student loan debt or who default on their loans.

“Florida is a national leader in developing a longitudinal data system,” said Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson, “and this is an excellent way for students to utilize the information so they can prepare for success in the workplace.”

The web portal is the result of legislation sponsored by incoming Senate President Don Gaetz. It’s designed to show the connection between higher education and job opportunities. The goal is to match job market demands with skilled workers.


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