Ambition matters,writes Bryan Caplan on EconLog. It explains why students who apply to selective colleges earn more than those who set modest goals.
In Ambition Revisited, he looks at James Rosenbaum’s College-For-All: Do Students Understand What College Demands? It shows degree completion as a function of high school students’ grades and goals.
Exhibit A: Percentage of high school seniors who plan to get a BA who successfully do so.
Exhibit B: Percentage of high school seniors who plan to get an AA who successfully do so.
More than two-thirds of A-students who plan to get a BA succeed, compared to less than half of A-students who plan to get an AA, Caplan observes. “This pattern extends all the way down to the weakest students.” In fact, B students who aim for a bachelor’s are as likely to succeed as A students who aim for an associate degree.
It’s likely seniors who want a BA are more ambitious than classmates willing to settle for an AA, Caplan writes. “As a result, they are — holding grades fixed — markedly more likely to achieve their goal despite its intrinsic difficulty. Seniors who say they only want an AA, in contrast, simultaneously aim low and fall short.”
Ninth graders should be shown Exhibit A: Less than half of B students and one fifth of C students earn a bachelor’s degree. Ambition isn’t enough: You need to do the work in high school.
The college premium is growing, but higher education’s benefits vary significantly depending on “individuals, types of credentials, occupations, and geographical locations,” concludes an Urban Institute study by Sandy Baum.
Median earnings for full-time workers aged 25 to 34 with an associate degree were 19 percent higher than for high school grads in 2012. The college premium rose to 26 percent for workers 35 to 44 years old and 28 percent for those 45 to 54.
Full-time workers 25 to 34 years old with “some college but no degree” earn 7 percent more than those with a high school diploma only. That rises to 19 percent for workers 35 to 44 years old.
The “some college” group includes a mix of college dropouts and people who earned vocational certificates. Dropouts aren’t likely to see an earnings premium, while some vocational certificates raise pay significantly.
Including full- and part-time students, 56 percent of college enrollees complete a degree or certificate in six years, one study estimates. After 10 years, 62 percent have completed a credential.
Brooklyn’s P-Tech is the The School That Is Changing American Education, writes Rana Foroohar in Time. Students can graduate in six years with a high school diploma, an associate degree and a job offer from IBM, which worked with the City University of New York to create the program. “Six should be the new four,” says IBM executive Stanley Litow.
In Chicago, IBM partnered with Richard J. Daley College to open Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, a six-year program that leads to a $40,0000- a-year IBM job. It’s a ticket to the middle class, writes Forhoohar.
A four-year high school degree these days only guarantees a $15 an hour future, if that. According to projections by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, the U.S. economy will create some 47-million job openings in the decade ending 2018, but nearly two-thirds will require some post secondary education. The Center projects that only 36% of American jobs will be filled by people with only a 4-year high school degree – half of what that number was in the 1970s.
Workers with a vocational associate degree will earn 73% more than those with only a high school diploma, the center projects.
Tennessee universities will let former community college students “reverse transfer” university credits to complete an associate degree, reports The Tennessean.
“It’s all about advancing the numbers of people with post-secondary credentials, and this is an approach that allows us to do that,” University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro said.
State officials say two-year degrees are valuable in the pursuit of jobs — and a “fail-safe” for those who don’t ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree.
Community colleges would get to count reverse-transfer graduates in their figures. Because a revamped funding formula rewards colleges for higher graduation rates, the program would help two-year institutions financially.
Many community college students transfer before they complete a two-year degree.
Graduation rates inch up if students are given double the normal time to reach completion, according to new data by the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The analysis looks at first-time, full-time students seeking a certificate, two-year or four-year degree after four to eight years.
Two-year degree completion rates rose the most with time: 21 percent earned a degree in two years, 34 percent in three years and 38 percent in four years. Completion rates in certificate programs taking less than two years rose from 46 percent after two years to 67 percent in three years and 69 percent in four years. After eight years, 60 percent of four-year students had completed a bachelor’s degree, up from 58 percent after six years and 38 percent after four years.
More community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees in career fields, reports Community College Daily.
South Seattle Community College (SSCC) added a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, which lets graduates seek a supervisory job in the hotel or restaurant industry.
North Dakota’s universities don’t offer a bachelor’s degree in energy management, so Bismarck State College (BSC) started a program to meet industry demand.
Courses are entirely online and are in eight-week blocks rather than the traditional 16 weeks. Only about 10 percent of the 250 students in the program are in North Dakota; the rest are all over the country. Most are adults already working in the field, although there are some traditional students who’ve just completed an associate degree.
The chief executive officers of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA) this week voted unanimously to endorse the concept. SDICCCA comprises the nine community colleges in the six college districts of San Diego and Imperial counties: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, Imperial Community College District, MiraCosta Community College District, Palomar Community College District, San Diego Community College District and Southwestern Community College District.
“Our local community colleges excel at preparing students to enter the workforce in career technical fields such as nursing and allied health, ”Melinda Nish, SDICCCA president and superintendent/president of Southwestern College, said in a statement. “It’s time for California to join this national movement and address our local workforce and student needs.”
Colorado community colleges are trying again to add four-year degrees, despite a defeat in the legislature last year, reports the Denver Post. Possible majors included dental hygiene and mortuary science.
Does Online Learning Help Community College Students Attain a Degree? Yes, in some cases, concludes research by Peter Shea, an associate professor of education at the State University of New York at Albany.
Online community college students in Virginia and Washington state have higher failure and dropout rates, according to earlier studies by the the Community College Research Center.
Shea, who used to run SUNY’s online education system, found the CCRC’s conclusions “counterintuitive,” he told Inside Higher Ed. Online education’s flexibility and convenience should help students advance, he believes.
In contrast to the CCRC studies, the Albany research found that students who had enrolled in at least one online course in their first year did not come into college with better academic preparation than did those who took no courses at a distance.
And students who took online courses at a distance were 1.25 times likelier to earn a credential (certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree) by 2009 than were their peers who had not taken any online courses. Those who started college with a goal of attaining a certificate (rather than a bachelor’s degree) and took online courses were 3.22 times as likely to earn a credential than were students who did not take online courses.
Shea used a nationally representative data set, he points out. Virginia and Washington state could be outliers.
Shanna Jaggars, a co-author of the Community College Research Center studies, said the Albany study may include more adult students. ”For older students who are working full-time and have children, the ability to maintain a full-time load by mixing in one or two online courses per semester may outweigh the negative consequences of performing slightly more poorly in each online course they take.”
What’s the Value of an Associate Degree? asks an important question but doesn’t provide useful answers, argues Donald E. Heller, dean of the Michigan State education school, in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The Nexus/AIR report relies on earnings data from PayScale, which are based on self-reporting, writes Heller. That data may not be accurate.
For example, according to the study, the community college with the highest reported starting salary was Colorado Northwestern Community College, at $57,637. That is 39 percent above the average of the other 578 institutions in the study. Does this tell us that Colorado Northwestern is 39 percent “better” than the average community college in the nation? Not at all, because we know nothing about the validity of the earnings data from PayScale. The company’s Web site shows that the earnings estimates for that college are based on the reports of just 21 individuals: four who reported annual salaries and 17 who reported hourly wages. It is impossible to tell how many of these 21 reported a starting salary. Do we want to pass judgment about that institution—or any other institution in the study—based on so few data points?
In addition, comparing the earnings of community college graduates with high school graduates doesn’t show whether the community college produced a high return on investment, writes Heller. Community college students “most likely have characteristics that distinguish them from those who choose not to enroll in postsecondary education,” such as greater ambition and academic ability. (The same is true of all those studies showing the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree.)
Earning an associate’s degree raises career-long earnings by $259,000, concludes a new study, What’s the Value of an Associate’s Degree? The Return on Investment for Graduates and Taxpayers. “Even after factoring in the costs that graduates incur when earning the degree, the associate’s degree is a good investment,” wrote authors Jorge Klor de Alva, president of Nexus Research and Policy Center, and Mark Schneider, president of College Measures and an AIR Fellow and vice president.
Among the top 20 percent of institutions with graduates enjoying the highest return on investment (ROI), California and Texas had the most high-ROI colleges.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Foothill College graduates earn $745,000 more than the state’s high school graduates over a 40-year career, the study estimated. Two other community colleges in the area — Ohlone Community College with $740,292 and Evergreen Valley College with $705,787 provided a very strong ROI.
However, colleges’ ROI varies greatly, the study found.
California has five schools whose graduates earn less than the median earnings of those with only a high school degree: Oxnard College, with $90,166 less; Mendocino College, $71,503 less; Reedley College, $60,554 less; Los Angeles Mission College, $28,345 less, and Cuesta College, $18,284.
Thirty states have at least one community college with graduates whose median net financial return over a 40-year work-life falls below the lifetime earnings of in-state high school graduates.
Returns were especially low in Missouri and Montana.
As graduates earn more, they pay more in taxes. The average gain in additional tax revenue is $67,000.
Klor de Alva and Schneider concluded that community colleges, states, and the nation should: reward progression, retention, and completion through performance funding formulas; distribute resources carefully to promote success; emphasize technical training and close ties between schools and their local labor market; and collect better data, at the student and program levels, and make the data publicly available.
Students who earned certificates weren’t included in the study, even though “some certificates permit students to earn starting salaries that are higher than those earned by associate’s or even bachelor’s degree holders.” Little data is available on certificates’ value, the authors wrote.