Bowdoin is one of over 7,000 schools in President Obama’s College Scorecard, an online database that includes information including average costs, graduation rates and future salaries. Obama released the Scorecard on Saturday, two years after he announced his original plan for a federal college rating system. 

When the plan was originally announced in August 2013, Obama intended it to be a rating system, the results of which would be tied to federal aid. Instead, the new system provides information about each school in seven different categories but does not explicitly rate them.

“I think a ranking would have been a very unfortunate outcome. I think it’s arbitrary and relies on decisions about how you’re going to weigh what data and value decisions that are implicit or explicit in the rankings,” said President Clayton Rose. “The goal of helping families and students figure out what the right college is for them by giving them good information that they can compare across schools is great.”

Much of the data, including the average annual cost and the median earnings ten years after enrollment, are based only on students who received federal financial aid. Currently only 20 percent of Bowdoin students receive federal aid. 

“I think in many ways it’s trying to deal with this real problem we’ve had in society of students going off to schools... where they were made promises about their employment opportunities and therefore incurred huge amounts of debt with a sense that when they got to the end of it there would be jobs where they would make X and that would allow them to cover their debt,” Rose said. 

Neither President Rose nor Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn believe that the Scorecard offers a full picture of Bowdoin’s affordability or value. 

“Single data points and snapshots and average and median figures are useful, but only if viewers of the information understand exactly what they are looking at.  Most of what appears on the Scorecard is a set of data for the 20 percent of Bowdoin students ‘who borrowed federal loans to help pay for college.’ It is not intended to provide a full picture of diversity or affordability or accessibility at the College,” wrote Meiklejohn in an email to the Orient. 

“This squishy notion of value—and we need to be very careful about what value means—I don’t think it gets after that...the notion that it paints a full picture of the Bowdoin experience and the Bowdoin opportunity, no, but that’s not what it’s intended to do,” Rose said.

Rose does not believe that the new Scorecard will have a noticeable affect on Bowdoin’s application numbers.

“I think we’re pretty transparent with all the kinds of data that are in there. If you just think about the other NESCAC schools or other schools that students look at when they’re thinking about coming here, the data’s pretty transparent,” Rose said.

The Scorecards also include retention rates, student body demographics, standardized test scores and popular academic programs. 

Correction (September 21, 2015 at 10:20 a.m.): The article has been updated to reflect that data on median earnings are calculated ten years after enrollment, not graduation.