Google’s College Search Feature Only Covers Four-Year Colleges

Google’s new college search feature launched last year to help “navigate the college search process.” Admissions, cost, majors, and graduation data are available in user-friendly formats to help prospective students find a college that meets their needs.

But there is a major blind spot in the feature, according to the American Enterprise Institute: it only covers traditional four-year colleges.

Even worse, community colleges appear like any other business rather than institutions of higher education. For-profit colleges are also given short shrift. In other words, Google’s search-display magic is reserved for students interested in just one part of our higher education sector—the one that mostly caters to traditional, full-time students seeking academic credentials who are often from upper-income households.

Many young people feel pressured to attend a four-year college or university, thinking a bachelor’s degree is the only ticket to success. In Minnesota, about 50 percent of our state’s high school graduates start on a four-year college road despite only 22 percent of jobs in the state requiring a four-year degree or more, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

There are many excellent education paths young people can pursue outside of the traditional four-year degree route. The Center’s Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree project highlights these alternative routes and how they lead to meaningful, well-paying careers. Plus, students who pursue these careers are often free from the high debt that accompanies a four-year degree.

Maybe Google isn’t aware there are many types of higher education pathways, AEI continued.

Or on a more cynical note, perhaps Google believes that prospective community college and for-profit college students don’t care about this type of information.

Fortunately there’s an easy fix. Google already has access to all of the information it needs to include two-year and for-profit schools in its search display. The company simply needs to add it.

We need to ensure young people know about the various academic and career pathways they have to choose from and how these pathways can become career ladders after post-secondary training is complete. After all, shouldn’t they just be able to “Google it?”