On 11D, Laura McKenna advises people considering postsecondary education: “Don’t get an AA degree anywhere but at a super cheap community college . . . live at home, and get a part time job.”
She adds: Don’t get a degree in a profession that doesn’t require a degree. “You don’t need an AA degree in party planning” to be a party planner.
For those going for a bachelor’s degree, don’t borrow more than $15,000, try to finish in four years and “don’t choose a school based on the college atmosphere,” writes McKenna, a former political science professor.
President Obama’s College Scorecard is “a little buggy,” but may help those who can’t spot a rip-off, she writes.
Work for a year before starting college, adds Megan McCardle on The Daily Beast. “You’ll get much more out of the experience, and you won’t need to borrow as much.”
As an English major who went to graduate school, McCardle advises: “Don’t major in English or history. It’s getting hard to overcome a poor major choice by going to grad school.”
Both warn against investing time and money in low-value master’s degrees and PhDs.
High schools should put “our kids on a path to a good job,” said President Obama in the State of the Union speech.
Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job. At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.
. . . Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.
Many high schools offer “dual enrollment” courses that let students earn college credits — usually through a local community college — while completing high school. Moving to a German-style apprenticeship system, which explicitly prepares students for skilled jobs, not for higher education, will take a lot more than money. It will take a major attitude change from college for all to competency for all. (Competency for most?) President Obama, whose administration cut funds for career tech programs, could lead the way.
Despite high unemployment, some 600,000 jobs in advanced manufacturing and other high-tech fields are unfilled for lack of qualified workers, testified Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Chicago is trying to fill the skills gap.
Five high schools in the Chicago Public Schools district, including Corliss High School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, and Lake View High School, began offering career-training tracks in September. The vocational programs are aligned with the needs of area businesses such as IBM, Motorola, and Verizon, which each partnered with a school to design alternative curricula, according to the CPS Website.
. . . Students enrolled in the program can earn a technical certification and credit toward an associate degree from City Colleges of Chicago, along with a high school diploma.
Two-year technical pathways can lead to lucrative careers, notes U.S. News. “Electrical engineering technicians earn a median salary of about $56,000 with an associate degree, and the median pay for nuclear technicians is roughly $68,000 with an associate’s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Radiology technicians also earn high salaries with a two-year degree.
Recent graduates with a technical or vocational associate degree average higher earnings than four-year graduates in three states analyzed by CollegeMeasures. In Virginia, the average technical associate degree graduate earned $49,000 a year between 2006 and 2010.
Community college degrees “are worth a lot more than I expected and that I think other people expected,” said Mark Schneider, president of CollegeMeasures and a vice president at the American Institutes for Research.
The job news gets even better for two-year graduates, reports Forbes.
This on the heels of stats from the Department of Labor from the fall that showed job growth for those with associate’s degrees was outpacing that of more advanced degree holders. The good news doesn’t stop there; the majority of the fastest growing occupations in the US, from dental hygienists to veterinary technologists, require only a community college education.
In 2010 – 2011, the average community college student paid $2713 in tuition and received, on average, $1700 in Pell Grant aid, Forbes notes. Most community college students don’t borrow to complete an associate degree and those who do don’t need to go heavily in debt.
If the U.S. is to lead the world in college graduates — President Obama’s goal — it must increase associate degree holders, concludes Getting Back on Top, a report by Jim Hull, senior policy analyst at the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education. That will require a national focus on enrollment and success in community colleges and trade schools.
Currently the U.S. ranks second only to Norway (35 percent) in the percentage of adults holding a bachelor’s degree or better at 32 percent. However, America is outranked by most countries when it comes to two-year degree graduates, tying for 18th with the United Kingdom and Germany at 10 percent.
Overall, the U.S. ranks fifth in the world in adults with degrees at 42 percent when not differentiating between two- and four-year colleges — behind Russia (54 percent), Canada (51 percent), Israel (46 percent) and Japan (45 percent).
When it comes to young adults ages 25 to 34, the U.S. is falling behind other countries, which are producing more young two- and four-year graduates.
“If we can double the 10-percent two-year degree rate to get to a 20, 25 percent rate, we will be up there in total college attainment rate, which will have a significant impact not only on college rankings,” Hull said.
It’s not just a matter of bragging rights, of course. Many jobs now require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.
Proactive support for students improve success rates for career-tech programs at Washington community and technical colleges, concludes a Community College Research Center study. The study looked at high-performing and low-performing programs in allied health, business and marketing, computer and information studies, and mechanics and repair.
A common college-level mechanism in high-performing colleges was an early alert system, which provides a proactive and potentially consistent way to identify students who are having trouble with a course or a program of study and intervene before they fall too far behind.
One high-performing college used dedicated, knowledgeable allied health counselors to advise students, instead of counselors who handled all fields of study.
Higher performing programs were less likely to emphasize the associate degree and more likely to promote long-term vocational certificates that require fewer general education courses and let students enter the workforce quickly.
. . . an emphasis on earning a long-term certificate and then immediately seeking paid employment could provide students with more motivation to complete than a bigger picture focus on an associate degree to improve long-term career options.
Low-performing programs offered more short-term certificates, which tend to be less valuable in the workplace. It’s possible programs with low graduation rates begin offering short-term certificates so “students would have at least some credential even if they dropped out,” the study concludes.
Career and technical education is “the missing middle ground in American education and workforce preparation,” concludes a new Georgetown report, Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A. Some 29 million middle-class jobs — 21 percent of all jobs — are open to workers with employer-based training, industry-based certifications, apprenticeships, postsecondary certificates and associate’s degrees, according to the study, jointly released with Civic Enterprises. These jobs pay $35,000 to $75,000 annually; nearly 40 percent pay more than $50,000 a year.
The U.S. ranks second in the world in the share of workers with bachelor’s degrees, but only 16th in sub-baccalaureate credentials, Georgetown advises.
“Compared to other advanced economies, the United States underinvests in sub-baccalaureate, career and technical education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center’s Director and the report’s lead author.
In the postindustrial economy, career tech jobs are shifting from blue collar to white: Only one third of CTE jobs are blue collar, half are white collar and 15 percent are in health care. However, men still hold 18 out of the 29 million middle-class “middle” jobs.
For both men and women, the best jobs are in sub-baccalaureate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and health care, where over 80 percent of jobs pay middle-class wages.
While four-year graduates earn more, on average, than middle-skill workers, certificates and associate degrees can be a step on the path to a bachelor’s degree in time, the report notes.
Career and technical education has lost federal funding in recent years, points out the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Obama administration cut millions from programs created by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. Georgetown urges the federal government to invest in career tech, setting up a “learning and earning exchange” to show students how to qualify for middle-class jobs. The report also urges integrating high school and postsecondary CTA with employer-based training.
“We need more pathways to postsecondary education,” Mr. Carnevale says. “Without that, we are creating a class-based society in America.”
. . . The exchange would provide students with information about specific training and education needed for jobs. In addition, educators could better tailor their programs to the job market, and employers would have a way to find new workers.
Employer training is the largest path to a middle-skill job, the report found. Postsecondary certificates — awarded to one million Americans a year — are now the second most common credential, after the bachelor’s degree. Some 800,000 earn associate degrees, but only half of those are in career fields such as nursing, business, and information technology. Registered apprenticeships reach 400,000 Americans; 90 percent are male.
College access and college success are in conflict, writes Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org. Low-income, minority and other high-risk students are significantly less likely to complete a degree. “One of the easiest ways to increase graduation rates is to exclude high-risk students.”
Kantrowitz analyzes proposals to require colleges to graduate a minimum percentage of Pell recipients to retain eligibility. Community colleges would be “hit the hardest,” he finds. Funding would shift to four-year institutions and to more selective schools.
A 20% minimum graduation rate threshold on institutional Pell Grant eligibility would cut overall Pell Grant funding at community colleges by more than $5 billion. While 4-year for-profit colleges would also lose nearly $1 billion, the for-profit sector as a whole would experience a net gain of more than $500 million in Pell Grant funding.
A 20% minimum graduation rate threshold on institutional Pell Grant eligibility would cause the average graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients to increase by 8.5 percentage points, but there would be a net 1% decrease in the number of college graduates.
Graduation rates are significantly lower for first-generation college students, low-income students, single parents, students who lack a high school diploma, adults, full-time workers and part-time students, he writes. Pell dollars would shift from the neediest students to those with more advantages.
About one eighth of students pursuing four-year degrees come from high-risk groups, compared with more than half of students in associate’s degree programs and two thirds of students in certificate programs, Kantrowitz writes.
For-profit colleges enroll many high-risk students: Pell recipients at for-profit colleges are less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, but more likely to earn an associate degree or certificate.
Instead of restricting access to Pell Grants, Kantrowitz suggests doubling or tripling the average grant to help low-income students earn degrees.
College graduates pay more than twice as much in federal income taxes as high school graduates. Every dollar invested in the Pell Grant program yields more than two dollars in profit to the federal government over the typical recipient’s work-life.
He calls it a “bold” idea. Yes. And very unlikely.
Students who enroll in associate’s degree programs at for-profit colleges raise their earnings as much as community college students — or more — concludes a new study, The Labor Market Returns to a For-Profit College Education. (Here’s the pdf.) Enrollees boost their previous earnings by 6 to 8 percent; graduates raise their pre-college earnings by 22 percent.
Stephanie Riegg Cellini, an assistant professor of public policy at George Washington University, and Latika Chaudhary, an assistant professor of economics at Scripps College, crunch the numbers in different ways: In some, for-profit college ”returns appear to be significantly higher than those of community college graduates.” For-profit graduates earned 34 percent more in one analysis, compared a 19 percent gain for community college graduates. “Moreover, for-profit graduates also appear to work more hours and be more likely to work full-time after graduation than public sector alumni.”
The picture is different for dropouts. Community college dropouts earn somewhat more than they did before enrolling, while for-profit dropouts may earn less. However, for-profit students are nearly twice as likely to complete an associate degree: 51 percent graduated at for-profit colleges, 27 percent at community colleges.
The researchers conclude:
Our analysis reveals that for-profit students generally experience positive earnings gains and labor market outcomes similar to those of students in the public sector. Given the much higher cost of a for-profit education relative to a public education, we expect that some students might find a community college a better investment, and further research is needed to assess whether the earnings gains from a for-profit education are enough to offset the high cost of attendance. Degree completion appears to be particularly important to student success in the for-profit sector and we suggest that, in the absence of earnings data, policymakers and prospective students should carefully study completion rates to assess the quality of a particular for-profit institution.
Community college tuition and fees average just $2,300 for in-state students; for-profit two-year colleges average $15,000.
. . . relative to community colleges, for-profit institutions (including aid-eligible two-year and four-year institutions) enroll a higher proportion of women (65 vs. 57 percent), blacks (22 vs. 14 percent), GED recipients (17 vs. 10 percent), and single parents (29 vs. 12 percent). Income differences are also substantial: the average income of a for-profit student is roughly $15,000-20,000 less than a community college student.
Community colleges offer many associate degrees in general education or liberal arts for would-be transfer students, while for-profit colleges specialize in career-related associate degrees. It would be useful to compare the earnings of community college students who enroll in vocational programs with for-profit students in the same specialties. Do community college nursing students do better or worse than for-profit nursing students?
Hispanics’ college enrollment is surging, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Forty-six percent of Hispanic high school graduates 18 to 24 years old enrolled in college — usually community college. That equals black enrollment and is closing in on young whites at 51 percent. Asian-Americans, with 67 percent in college, lead the pack.
Hispanic students also are much more likely to complete high school.
In the 1990s, fewer than 60 percent of Hispanics 18 to 24 had a high school diploma, but that figure hit 70 percent for the first time in 2009, and 76 percent last year.
That high school completion rate, however, still remains below the national rate of 85 percent (81 percent for blacks), limiting the number of Hispanics who are eligible for college.
Hispanics make up about 16.5 percent of all college students, but 25.2 percent of community college students. Graduation rates are low: In 2010, Hispanics made up 13.2 percent of those earning an associate degree and 8.5 percent of those earning a bachelor’s degree.
California’s two-year for-profit colleges have higher graduation rates than community colleges, reports the Orange County Register, which analyzed data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education. As in other states, students seeking bachelor’s degrees were much less likely to graduate at four-year for-profit institutions.
California spends $10 billion a year on ccommunity colleges, which enroll 2.6 million students.
Nationwide, for-profit schools receive $32 billion in federal student loans and grants, according to a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions investigation.
In California, only one-quarter of degree-seeking students graduate from community colleges in three years, compared to nearly two-thirds of for-profit students seeking a two-year degree or certificate.
East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program, a job training center, had the highest graduation rate of any public two-year program: 38.2 percent complete a credential in two years and 93.4 percent in three years.
College of the Redwoods in the rural north posts the lowest graduation rate: 4.7 percent in two years and 5.8 percent in three.