Texans who earn a vocational certificate often earn more than associate-degree graduates in their first year in the workforce, concludes Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Public Colleges and Universities Who Are Working in Texas. Some workers with certificates earn more than $70,000 – $30,000 more than the median for graduates with bachelor’s degrees, concludes the Lumina-funded study by College Measures, a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Matrix Knowledge Group.
The median starting pay for criminal justice/police science certificate holders is $48,192, double the compared with $24,298 for those with an academic associate’s degree. Some health-care certificates allowed graduates to earn $70,000. Other high-paying certificates included: construction engineering technology/technician, electrician, pipefitting, engineering, industrial technology, and instrumentation technician.
However, not all certificates lead to high-paying jobs. Recipients of two dozen certificate programs earned less than $13,000 in their first year on the job. Cosmetologists and nursing/patient care assistants usually earned low wages.
Technical associate’s degrees pay well: The median starting salary is more than $50,000. By contrast, an academic associate degree lead to median earnings of $24,298,
First-year earnings for bachelor’s degree holders range from about $25,000 (biology) to about $47,000 (accounting): The average is $39,725.
Community college graduates’ first-year salaries vary from one college to another.
Academic associate’s degrees range from about $10,000 (Ranger College) to more than $30,000 for graduates from the Trinity Campus of Tarrant County Junior College and from Central Texas Community College.
For graduates with technical degrees, the range is even greater, from about $20,000 for graduates of Clarendon College to more than $65,000 for graduates from seven community colleges: College of the Mainland Community College District, San Jacinto College South Campus, Tarrant County Junior College South Campus, Galveston College, El Centro College, Trinity Valley Community College and Weatherford College.
A national study and analyses in Tennessee and Virginia have found similar results: Technical certificates and associate degrees often pay better than non-technical bachelor’s degrees at the start of graduates’ careers.
“Flipping” and “blending” a San Jose State engineering class has worked so well that most California State University campuses are expected to partner with edX on similar courses in the fall, reports the San Jose Mercury News. San Jose State will expand the model to humanities, business and science courses.
Eighty randomly selected students in an entry-level engineering course watched online lectures from MIT (the flip), while solving problems in class, with the professor’s help (the blend). Ninety-one percent of the flipped students passed the class. Only 55 and 59 percent of non-flipped students passed. .
“Five hundred years ago we gave them a textbook, and in 1862 we gave them chalk,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. “What tools have we given them since then? Please don’t say PowerPoint.”
In-class problem solving is more effective, said SJSU President Mo Qayoumi. However, the new format requires a lot more time from students and instructors.
The online videos and quizzes can take 10 to 12 hours a week to watch and complete, far more than expected in the traditional format. In addition, (Professor Khosrow) Ghadiri said he and his teaching assistants spend a combined 80 hours a week on the class, preparing materials, checking students’ progress and sending them emails when they fall behind.
Students who put in the work have a very good shot of taking the class only once. And if the 91 percent pass rate holds, the engineering department won’t have to provide all those seats for two-timing students.
California’s community colleges and state universities are looking to online learning to shorten wait lists. The state Legislature is considering a bill to require public colleges and universities to accept online credits if students can’t get into conventional classes.
Going to college and picking the right major will increase your earnings, but not as much as you think, write Andrew G. Biggs and Abigail Haddad of the American Enterprise Institute. Recent high-profile studies confuse correlation and causation, they argue. “Simply because two things tend to occur together — such as college attendance and higher incomes — does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.”
In a recent study, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Hamilton Project conducted a seemingly simple cost-benefit analysis: While four years of college today can cost in excess of $100,000, a typical college graduate earns roughly $13,000 more per year than a high school graduate. They conclude that, despite rising tuition costs, the annual “return” to college education tops 16 percent, far exceeding investments such as stocks or bonds.
First, going to college isn’t the same as graduating from college, write Biggs and Haddad. Only 58 percent of people began college in 2004 had graduated six years later. Mediocre students — the sort who aren’t sure whether to go to college or find a job — do much worse.
Second, high school graduates who enroll in college are quite different from those who don’t.
High school students who go on to college took a more rigorous high school curriculum, scored better on tests of reading and math, came from higher-income families, were in better physical and mental health, and were less likely to have been arrested. These are all correlated with higher earnings regardless of whether a person attends college, either because they contribute directly to higher pay or because they proxy for other factors that do. How much a college education increases the incomes of those who attend is a different question than the simple difference in earnings between college grads and individuals with only a high school diploma.
Using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth it is possible to control for these and other differences between college grads and the rest of us. Once you control for both the risk of not graduating from college and differing personal characteristics, the earnings boost attributable to college attendance is cut in half.
Studies on the best-paying college majors also are flawed, they write. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University reports that four-year graduates in engineering, mathematics or computer science have median earnings that top $70,000, while graduates in the arts, education or social work earn less than $47,000. The choice of major also “determines unemployment,” Georgetown advises.
However, engineering majors start out ahead of arts majors, Biggs and Haddad write.
. . . high school graduates aiming for high-earning majors such as engineering enter college with higher average SAT scores, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, while those aiming for lower-paying majors have lower average SAT scores. But SAT scores almost certainly are correlated with higher incomes regardless of college major chosen. Similarly, high-paying jobs also entail longer work hours. Numerous studies . . . have found that controlling for SAT scores, hours worked and other factors explains most of the pay differences that initially appear to be driven by choice of college major.
Young people considering their futures need to remember that they’re not average. Individual characteristics — intelligence, work ethic, interests — will determine their future. Bill Gates dropped out of college and did OK. Are you Bill Gates? Nurses with associate degrees make good money. If you faint at the sight of blood, that’s not your best choice.
Universities are turning to community colleges in the search for potential STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students who are black, Hispanic or female, reports Inside Higher Ed.
Using a $2.6 million Gates Foundation grant, the University of Maryland Baltimore County will pilot a national model for increasing the number of community college students who go on to earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. The City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago wil use a Kresge Foundation grant to help minority males transfer and earn STEM bachelor’s degrees. Mount Holyoke College is helping female community college students earn a STEM bachelor’s, with a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Transfer students in STEM fields face the same problems any community college transfer might face: courses that don’t line up, credits that don’t transfer, trouble adjusting to the class size or format, a lack of a community feeling. Those problems, however, are often more acute for STEM students. After all, 500-person lecture classes are more common in science departments, and requirements are often more stringent in those fields, too; an engineering student who takes the wrong class in his first year at community college will likely have a harder time finishing a bachelor of science degree in four years than an English student would have with a bachelor of arts.
Becky Wai-Ling Packard, a professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke, interviewed 30 Massachusetts community college students in STEM fields before and after they transferred to a four-year institution. Twenty-six transferred and 22 persisted in STEM majors after the first semester.
Most of the students reported positive feelings about their community college experiences, citing inspiring professors, peer support, and helpful advising as reasons for their success. Once the students got to their four-year colleges, however, sentiment turned negative. Most students reported struggling in at least one course, and said that compared to their community college courses, the four-year classes often moved at a faster pace, were more difficult, and provided less support. The content in the courses didn’t always line up, either. One student said she had taken the first semester of organic chemistry at her community college, but the second semester course at her four-year college assumed knowledge of things she hadn’t learned, so even though she had earned credit for the first semester of organic chemistry, she ended up having to take it over again.
Mount Holyoke’s STEM transfer initiative provides scholarships, advising and mentoring to help transfers complete a STEM degree. Students meet with science faculty members regularly and go through a special orientation.
Students are competing for a shot at a six-year high school in Brooklyn that offers vocational training and college classes, reports the New York Times.
By 2017, the first wave of students of P-Tech — Pathways in Technology Early College High School — is expected to emerge with associate’s degrees in applied science in computer information systems or electromechanical engineering technology, following a course of studies developed in consultation with I.B.M.
“I mean, in 10th grade, doing college work?” said Monesia McKnight, 15, as she sat in an introduction to computer systems course taught by a college professor. “How great is that?”
New York City plans to open several more schools on the P-Tech model, and other states are following suit.
“When we view high-quality C.T.E. programs, we see how engaged those students are and what clear aspirations they have for their future,” said John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner. “Unfortunately, that’s not always present in some of our struggling schools.”
In its second year, P-Tech houses ninth and 1oth graders at Paul Robeson High School, which is being phased out because of poor performance. Some 88 percent of P-Tech students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. Half tested below proficiency in eighth grade, but they’re already passing state Regents exams and taking college courses.
Students attend from 8:35 a.m. to 4:06 p.m., in 10-period days that intersperse traditional classes like math and English with technology and business-centric courses like “workplace learning,” which teaches networking, critical thinking and presentation skills. Second-year students are offered physics and global studies as well as the business courses and college-level courses in speech or logic and problem solving — or both. There is also a six-week summer academy for geometry.
Students who straight to the workforce will be prepared for “entry-level technology jobs paying around $40,000 a year, like software specialists who answer questions from I.B.M.’s business customers or “deskside support” workers who answer calls from PC users,” reports the Times. Students aren’t guaranteed a job at IBM, but they should have skills required by many companies as well as the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in two years.
Each student also is paired with an IBM mentor and visits the company’s offices and labs. The principal also has an IBM mentor. The company helped train the school’s teachers and funds a full-time liaison to work with college faculty, who also helped develop the curriculum.
Jon VanDoran uses crutches, a wheelchair — or the motorcycle he adapted — to get around. A student at Volunteer State Community College (Vol State) in Tennessee, the former machinist plans to earn a mechanical engineering degree and create “adaptive technology” to help others with disabilities, reports Community College Times.
Before enrolling at Vol State, VanDoran built a motorcycle he can use without his legs.
“I found an old ’92 Harley Fatboy. I met up with a guy who works on motorcycles, and we figured out what I needed to do to modify it for me. The biggest trick was the shifting, but I never found a good answer to that problem. I started doing research to do it better. I put it all together and made my own design. I machined all the pieces myself. It’s a jockey shift set-up with the clutch on the handle of the shifter.”
A sidecar, painted with the jaws of a shark, holds the Harley upright.
After the motorcycle project, his wife urged him to live up to his potential. VanDoran decided to start at Vol State, then transfer to Tennessee Tech for his engineering degree.
“I want to go into children’s outdoor sports. That stems from me growing up as a child with a disability and there not being many options for me. Going hiking, rock climbing and repelling was tricky. I was always involved in the outdoors, but it was really hard.”
. . . “Kids want something that is cool. I want to develop pieces that kids would be proud to have.”
Although he “grew up hating math,” he became comfortable with numbers in machinist school, VanDoran said. “Once I decided to become an engineer, I knew I had to learn to love math. Now I’m a complete math nerd, and I love it. The math and science program here has been great in helping me with that.”
Students will get a head start on science, technology, engineering, and math careers at the new S.T.E.M. Academy at Kingsway Regional High School, a partnership with Gloucester County College in New Jersey. The program offers tough work and college credits, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Students, STEM lovers with high grades and test scores, will “major’ in biology or chemistry in high school.
In their freshman and sophomore years, the Kingsway students will take the school’s most rigorous courses, including some advanced-placement classes in sophomore year, according to Jennifer Foley-Hindman, the district’s supervisor of curriculum and instruction.
“In junior year, it’s APs out the wazoo,” she said.
Their senior year, they will take courses at GCC. Ultimately, Foley-Hindman said, they could graduate with as many as 32 college credits.
Employers expect to hire 10.2 percent more new college graduates this year than they did last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook update.
Median starting salaries for the class of 2012 are up 4.5 percent to $42,569 a year, NACE reports. Engineering jobs pay the most — a median of $58,581.
“Tuning” – clarifying what students should know and be able to do to earn a degree in a discipline – will help students succeed, writes Michelle Kalina on GOOD. Colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and Utah are participating in the Lumina Foundation‘s Tuning USA initiative, which is led by the Institute for Evidence-Based Change.
Texas has tuned four engineering disciplines and plans to tune additional engineering fields, two science majors, mathematics, business, and computer and information science.
Because two-thirds of high school graduates in Texas who pursue higher education start at one of the state’s community colleges, Texas also convened representatives from more than 50 institutions to improve the transfer process. Community-college students who want to pursue a baccalaureate degree in civil engineering receive detailed guidance on choosing courses and applying to transfer. Students are informed about the knowledge and skills they will acquire in each course and are provided information about career opportunities ranging from construction and aerospace to manufacturing and public works projects.
Similarly, in Kentucky, two- and four-year public and private colleges are working together to tune high-demand programs in biology, business, elementary education, nursing, and social work. In the state’s nursing programs, courses are being tuned to help pave the way for students to transfer from one program or college to another.
Tuning is based on Europe’s Bologna Process, which is “creating a great deal more transparency with respect to what, exactly, students who have earned credits from a given program or university have actually learned,” writes Education Sector’s Kevin Carey.
Motivated Engineering Transfer Students (METS) is helping community college students earn four-year degrees in engineering and computer science at Arizona State, reports ASU News.
METS offers transfer students “opportunities for scholarships, a campus meeting place, seminars, mentoring and networking opportunities.” Engineering transfer students’ graduation rates are 70 percent for men and 60 percent for women.
Most METS transfers now come from the nearby Maricopa County Community College District. However, a $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will help METS team with five community colleges in rural areas – Central Arizona, Western Arizona, Eastern Arizona, Cochise and Mohave colleges – to intensify recruitment.
They’re targeting “a significant pool of untapped engineering talent” among community college students, (program coordinator Mary) Anderson-Rowland says.
METS will help the community colleges reach out to local high school students and will provide classroom materials, tutoring, speakers and scholarships to cover costs of engineering courses.
In addition, the project includes “Be an Engineer” events on community college campuses for students and their parents, providing a contingent of experienced student mentors, and hosting ASU orientation programs specifically for transfer students.
Once at ASU, transfer students are encouraged to study together and meet with mentors.
Diana Sarmiento struggled when she first enrolled in community college several years ago. Her grades were so low that she dropped out.
She later started over at Estrella Mountain Community College, earned an associate’s degree in science and came to ASU with help from the METS program. Through METS she learned about time management that helped her cope with the challenges of university engineering studies – even while working jobs in addition to attending school full-time.
. . . Sarmiento went on to earn four internship positions – including experience as a research assistant – and work as a teaching assistant.
Sarmiento will be graduated in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering.