STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

New report confirms kids need better information to make college decisions that lead to jobs

Mark Stosberg

I will be so happy when I don't have to start a story about college with what feels like this obligatory fact: Going to college makes climbing up that economic ladder a lot more likely.

Because while I know this fact to be true, it doesn't change that fact that in the course of my reporting I also meet a lot of people who haven't found going to college to be economically beneficial. In fact, I  just heard from one young woman today who had that experience. I'll bring you her story, soon.

Now there is finally a study that explains more of what is going on here. There have been a few of these before. This one separates those students who finish college from those who end up with just "some college," and not a lot of economic benefit for that investment of time and money. 

The researchers found that what makes a difference is not access to college, it's not plans to go to college, it's not even qualifications. Interestingly, this study found "students with 'some college' have similar or better characteristics on many dimensions as those who complete certificates or associate's degrees."

The difference, these researchers found, is information.

Kids are not getting enough detailed information about how to navigate community colleges and universities; picking courses that will lead to a credential quickly, navigating red tape to take the courses they need to enter a career pathway. They also aren't getting good information about alternatives to college that might work for them in the short- or long-term.

You can read the whole report here. You can send experiences you've had with information gaps around college or career pathways to