In a few years, high school graduates in North Carolina will earn diplomas showing their readiness for university, community college or careers, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Each seal requires a minimum 2.6 grade point average, basically a C+.
To earn the community college readiness seal, graduates must have completed Algebra II or integrated math III.
In February, the community college board decided graduates with a minimum 2.6 GPA can skip placement tests and start in college-level courses. The system’s research showed that 20 percent of students placed in remedial courses could have succeeded at the college level. High school grades are the best predictor of college success, the study concluded.
To earn the career readiness seal, students must
take four career/technical courses, score well on ACT’s WorkKeys exam, or have an industry-recognized credential, such a car repair certificate, Microsoft suite certification, or SAS programmer credentials.
College graduates’ skills don’t match the available jobs, said participants in a community forum in Fort Collins, Colorado, reports The Coloradoan.
Matt Dinsmore, co-owner of Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, said he employs three people with masters’ degrees, including a beer stocker with a physics degree.
Martin Shields, a Colorado State University economics professor, said a college degree is an important investment, but the first four to five years after college are “tougher than they’ve ever been.”
Dawn Putney, CEO of design and marketing firm Toolbox Creative, most four-year graduates don’t have the job skills she needs. Young people are encouraged to go for a university degree, not to explore alternatives such as community colleges, she said.
Jim Neubecker, a member of the Governor’s Workforce and Small Business Development Council, said union electricians, pipe-fitters and plumbers can work 40 hours per week while attending school two nights per week, learning skills while avoiding debt. Community colleges often partner with unions to get students certified on otherwise prohibitively expensive equipment, Neubecker said.
The push for a $10,000 bachelor’s degree has come to California, reports the Sacramento Bee.
With the cost of going to college already more than $30,000 a year at many California campuses, is it possible to earn a bachelor’s degree for just $10,000 – total?
Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, hopes so.
Borrowing an idea being promoted by Republican governors in Texas and Florida, the GOP assemblyman has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program in California for what he’s billing as a $10,000 bachelor’s degree.
Assembly Bill 51 calls for high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses to develop a low-cost degree path in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) majors in Chico, Long Beach and Turlock.
High school students would earn college credit through Advanced Placement classes and dual enrollment in community college courses, Logue envisions. Community college students would be encouraged to enroll full time.
The $10,000 would include textbooks, but not room and board. Currently CSU students spend $5,472 a year on tuition and another $2,000 annually.
Olive Gardner attended Compton City College in the 1930s, Santa Barbara State College in the 1940s and what was then San Jose State College in the 1950s, determined to earn a bachelor’s degree. But San Jose State rejected some of her transfer credits. After a 53-year wait, the 93-year-old was awarded a degree in home economics, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Gardner worked on and off from the 1930s to the 1950s at three colleges to earn her degree, hoping to become a teacher, all while raising her five children and working on the family chicken ranch in Morgan Hill and behind the counter at their lawn mower repair shop on the El Camino in Santa Clara. She even packed off her five children to her mother’s house in Southern California in the summer of 1959 to spend uninterrupted time trying to finish her degree. Still, college administrators told her at the time, she was one course shy. Some of her credits didn’t transfer, they told her.
“She would always say, ‘I have 156 units and no college degree,’ ” well more than the 120 units usually required for an undergraduate degree, said her daughter, Donna Chandler, 55, who reached out to San Jose State in the spring on the eve of her mother’s 93rd birthday.
Stephen Branz, associate dean for curriculum, worked with Delia Chavez, a transfer credit adviser, and Lucy McProud, the head of the nutrition and food science, to evaluate Gardner’s transcripts. They decided Gardner had met all requirements and should have been given the degree in 1959. That’s the date on her new bachelor’s degree, which is already framed.
More states are streamlining transfers for community college students seeking bachelor’s degrees, according to an American Association of Community Colleges policy brief.
AACC’s Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future called for better articulation between community colleges and universities. “Community college transfer students often have to fight to have their credits recognized at baccalaureate institutions, and universities are often reluctant to share data about transfer students and their performance.”
University education is free in Switzerland, but most students choose vocational training, Time reports.
Take Jonathan Bove. This spring, after he completed his three-year business training at an insurance company, the 19-year-old was hired by a telecommunications firm; his job as a customer care representative offers a starting salary of $52,000 a year, a generous annual bonus, and a four-week paid vacation – no small potatoes for the teenager who is still living at home and has no plans to move out. “The idea of university never appealed to me,” he says. “The vocational training is more hands-on and the path to a good job is shorter.”
After completing nine years of required schooling, two-thirds of 15 and 16 year olds choose Vocational Education and Training (VET), which combines three years of part-time classroom instruction with training at a company. The youth unemployment rate in Switzerland is less than 3 percent.
VET apprentices generate more revenues than they cost in salaries and instruction, so most companies profit from VET participation, even if they train more apprentices than they need. On average, VET graduates start at $50,000 a year.
Most young Americans won’t earn a college degree, says Nancy Hoffman of Jobs for the Future in a Nation interview with Dana Goldstein. A Swiss-style apprenticeship system would motivate young people and qualify them for good jobs, she argues.
Volkswagon is starting a European-style apprenticeship program in Tennessee, but for high school graduates. . . . You probably have to start with more internships and apprenticeships at the community college level than in high school, because most people in this country just don’t believe that 16-year-olds can be productive workers—though there is plenty of evidence they certainly can be.
Goldstein asks: Should we worry if the vocational track really is the track for working-class kids?
America’s system — College for all but failure for most — provides less economic mobility than the apprenticeship model, Hoffman argues. “The really strong countries have pathways from vocational education straight through to technical colleges,” she adds. In Switzerland, 42 percent of the highest-scoring students enter the vocational system. “If you want to be an engineer, work in IT or any of these high-tech jobs, you’re going to be much more likely to get a job after real work experience.”
Worried about rising college costs, more students are living at home and paying their own way, Time reports. A new report from Sallie Mae finds a “major shift in spending.”
Using their savings and income, undergrads spent $2,555 on average for their educations during the last academic year, up from $1,944 the previous year. Parents, by contrast, have been contributing less for their children’s college bills: $5,955 last year, down substantially from $8,752 two years prior. In total, parents footed 37% of college costs via spending or borrowing, compared to 44% of their children’s college expenses four years before. Students themselves account for 30% of the total cost of attendance, up from 24% four years earlier.
Twenty-nine percent of college students started at community college in 2012, Sallie Mae reports, up from 23 percent two years earlier. As a result of the shift, parents and students paid 5 percent less for college in 2012.
Americans still believe college is necessary: 83 percent of college students and parents strongly agreed that higher education is an investment in the future, college is needed now more than ever (70 percent), and the path to earning more money (69 percent).
However, more families are eliminating college choices because of cost and finding ways to cut spending.
In 21 states, community colleges are adding bachelor’s degrees, reports Community College Week. Other states may follow the trend.
Florida has led the way with 22 community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees in nursing, elementary education, business management and other fields. All are built on associate degree programs and meet local workforce needs.
Florida State College at Jacksonville, which offers 12 baccalaureate degrees, is careful not to expand into low-demand fields, said Donald Green, executive vice-president for instruction and student services. “We want to identify high wage areas where people can make a decent living.”
Universities see the trend as “mission creep.” In Michigan, universities are fighting a proposal to let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in maritime technology, concrete technology, energy production, culinary studies and nursing.
Since 2004, a series of state and national reports has prodded Michigan to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees in high-need fields. The state has the sixth-highest tuition rate for a public four-year degree in the nation, according to the Michigan Community College Association.
“Michigan is at a critical point in its history,” says a MCCA report. “As the state transitions to a knowledge-based economy, increasing the educational attainment of the workforce is paramount. The community college baccalaureate degree would allow colleges to respond to workforce shortages in specific regions, and in specific corporations and industries.”
But the state’s public universities, led by the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State, “complain the community colleges would be competing for pieces of a shrinking budget pie and that the community college baccalaureate would be of inferior quality,” reports Community College Week. A bill to enable community colleges to add four-year degrees is stalled in the legislature.
Most military veterans use the GI Bill to enroll at community colleges, but for-profit colleges are an increasingly popular choice.
College tuition is soaring in response to federal policies on student aid and university research funding, argues Arthur M. Hauptman, a higher education financing analyst, in an essay in Inside Higher Ed. Jawboning won’t help, he writes. Neither will top-down regulation.
Pell Grants aren’t a major push factor for college prices, Hauptman believes. But rising spending for Pell may be the reason colleges are shifting their own aid away from the poor and toward middle-class students.
The rise in student loans correlates strongly with the rise in tuition.
Currently, colleges can just maintain or raise their prices and shift the cost-sharing to loans for a broad range of their students. This needs to change. One way to accomplish this would be to require that needy students not receive all their aid in the form of loans. In effect, this would mean that institutions must offer discounts to their needy students who borrow, thereby reducing their debts.
In addition, students shouldn’t be allowed to borrow excessively for living expenses.
Now, community college students who face $2,000 or $3,000 in tuition and fees are eligible to borrow $10,000 or more to cover their total expenses. This applies at all institutions for students who live at home or off campus. This provision should be changed so that reasonable limits are placed on how much these students can borrow. Ditto for students living in dorms or on meal plans – they should not be allowed to borrow excessively large sums for this form of consumption. Such a change would likely have the beneficial effect of reducing how much institutions charge for these non-education services.
Students can’t use federal grants to pay for remedial courses, pushing them to borrow, Hauptman writes. He suggests students be able to take tuition-free remedial courses offered by providers who’d be paid by the government based on their success at raising student competencies. Colleges would have to compete with private companies for the remedial ed business.
Federal student loan subsidies should be eliminated or limited to Pell Grant recipients, he recommends. “This may seem harsh medicine, but the benefit is very expensive, not well-targeted to those most in need, and serves as an incentive for students to borrow more than they otherwise would.”
Linking loan repayments to post-college income makes sense, Hauptman writes, but it will serve “as a further encouragement to institutions to keep their prices high and let the loan system deal with the consequences.”
Is there a college premium?
Four-year college graduates earn nearly $1 million more over a 40-year working life than non-graduates, concludes The College Payoff, a new report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Even at an average cost of $102,000 for four years, college is the best investment you’ll ever make, advises Brookings’ Hamilton Project.
The case for the college premium confuses chickens and eggs, responds Richard Vedder, a Ohio University economist, on the College Affordability site.
Those who go to college are, on average, brighter, more knowledgeable, more disciplined, and more conscientious than those who go to work after higher school. . . . Even if those in the college going population had NOT gone to college, they would have earned more than those others who did not go on—simply because they are better workers.
The college premium varies significantly by field of study, the Georgetown report finds. For example, 28 percent of workers with an associate degree earn more than the median wage for four-year college graduates. There’s a high premium for a degree in engineering, not much for social work or early childhood education.
The Georgetown report only looks at graduates: Forty to 50 percent of college enrollees don’t complete a degree, Vedder adds.
There is a substantial risk element to making a college investment, particularly those with attributes (low high-school grades, poor test scores, etc.) that suggest the probability of dropping out is high. Adjusting for this risk factor lowers the expected income gains from college dramatically.
In addition, as more Americans enter the labor market with college degrees, the payoffs are likely to change, writes Vedder, who predicts diminishing returns for a college degree.
A growing proportion of new college graduates are taking jobs that don’t require a degree. While they may earn more than co-workers with high school diplomas, their college premium will be reduced.
Finally, a degree’s value depends on the college’s reputation, Vedder points out. The Harvard premium is high. Chicago State? Not so much.
“We need the IRS to provide us average earnings data by college to help evaluate the differential rate of return on investments in the various colleges,” Vedder writes.
College is a good investment for good students, but not for everyone, Vedder adds in an EdCommons discussion.
Looking at those graduating from high school, I would guess somewhere between 25 and 40 percent should go to four-year schools, because they have the relatively high grades, tests scores, innate intelligence, ambition and motivation — good predictors of college and often vocational success.
The other 60 to 75 percent should pursue less-risky options, Vedder advises. That includes community college or a career college offering specialized occupational training.