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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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Common Data Set

Much of the material used by college guides is extracted each year from the Common Data Set, which I’ve mentioned in earlier chapters. The Common Data Set was dreamed up as a way to satisfy publishers, who have a voracious appetite for higher education statistics. Schools provide figures in an annual uniform report that covers such areas as student retention and graduation rates, characteristics of the freshman class, expenses, degrees conferred by major, transfer policies, academic programs, and much more.

The statistics in a school’s Common Data Set are more exhaustive than what you’ll find in college guides. Many college reference books, for instance, state the percentage of students who graduate after six years, but they ...

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