Your mama told you, or, at least, Smokey Robinson’s mama told him, shop around. It’s good advice when it comes to picking a college for yourself or your child, says Jim Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “Don’t assume that higher cost means better quality,” Applegate says. You could be in a grocery aisle, or on Amazon, and assume the most expensive of an array of items is simply better. “That’s not always true, and it’s not always true in higher education.”
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What proportion of your freshmen get a degree, and in four years? What about job placement? Applegate says you should be prepared to ask tough questions, and college faculty and staff should be prepared to answer them.
“Get real cost comparison data if you can,” says Applegate, “and if they can’t provide you with any data about what happens to their students, that would be, to me, a red flag, because if they’re not measuring it, they’re probably not treasuring it.”