Community colleges awarded more than 1 million associate degrees in 2011-12, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year, reports Community College Week, which lists the top 100 associate degree and certificate producers.
Completion campaigns are starting to pay off. Indiana’s Ivy Tech, a statewide system, ranks first among two-year institutions and third overall in associate degrees awarded with a 12 percent increase. Completion is “now a priority for all community colleges,” said President Thomas J. Snyder. But Ivy Tech is underfunded, he complained.
The situation only worsened when students poured into the system after the 2008 recession.
“The facilities themselves are woefully under built,” Snyder said. “Our student to adviser ratio is 1000-1. Most colleges try to get to 500-1.”
Snyder said while 47 percent of all students enrolled in public colleges in Indiana attend Ivy Tech, the state gets just 14 percent of the higher education appropriations.
The Lone Star College System in Texas ranked third among two-year institutions, and 10th overall, in the number of associate degrees conferred, with 4,208, a 27 percent increase from a year earlier. The number of degrees earned by Hispanic students increased by 55 percent from the year before.
“Our board has made student success its top priority,” said Chancellor Richard Carpenter. “For the past three or four years, not a meeting goes by where we don’t talk about completion.”
Lone Star leads the statewide Texas Completes program, which aims to “identify, address and eliminate obstacles to student success and implement procedures and policies to speed a student’s completion.” For example, all new students must attend a common orientation and declare a program of study in their first year.
One-third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a Pew study. That’s a new high. Sixty-three percent have completed at least “some” college. And 90 percent have a high school diploma or GED.
With fewer job prospects, young adults are staying in school, Pew reports. In addition, many more people believe a college education is necessary to get ahead in life. In a 2010 Gallup poll, 75 percent said a college education is “very important,”up from 36 percent In 1978.
However, the U.S. higher education system is no longer the best in the world, according to a 2011 Pew survey of college presidents. “College presidents are concerned about the quality, preparedness and study habits of today’s college students,” Pew reports. Fifty-two percent say college students today study less than their predecessors did a decade ago; just 7 percent say they study more.
New graduates with associate degrees may earn more than four-year graduates in Tennessee, reports the Leaf Chronicle.
Two-year graduates averaged $38,948 in earnings in their first year, compared to $37,258 for four-year graduates, according to a study by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and College Measures. Community college graduates in health, construction and technology were high earners in their first year.
The value of a degree varied at different colleges and universities, notes the Chronicle of Higher Education. Health-care graduates of two community colleges — Dyersburg State ($52,042) and Jackson State ($48,498) — earned more in the first year out of college than University of Tennessee at Knoxville graduates. ($46,770). Roane State business graduates earned more ($39,893) than UT-Martin graduates ($33,964), but less than UT-Knoxville ($39,893).
The U.S. is falling behind the developed world in producing college graduates argues The Credential Differential. The CLASP report calls for investing more in higher education.
. . . even in these tough economic times when there are difficult fiscal decisions to be made, increasing credential attainment pays off for individuals, families, communities, states and the country.
A Return on Investment Dashboard projects the effects of maintaining the status quo in each state or increasing the number of credentialed adults.
Currently, 41.1 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 have an associate degree or higher, up from 38.1 percent in 2000. At this pace, 46 percent of young adults will hold a degree by 2025. College Board’s goal is 55 percent. President Obama is shooting for 60 percent by 2020.
Among young adults, 69.1 percent of Asians, 48.7 percent of whites, 29.4 percent
of blacks and 19.2 percent of Hispanics have an associate degree or higher. Younger Asians and whites are more educated than their elders, while younger blacks and Hispanics are not.
A College Board commission in 2008 suggested 10 ways to boost completion rates, notes College Bound. The 2011 report found progress in preschool and kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates, simplification of the college-admissions process and high school standards.
However, there was little change in graduation rates.
Although persistence rates are up for full-time college students, three-year graduation rates for associate-degree-seeking students (34.1 percent) and six-year completion rates for bachelor-degree-seeking students (57.7 percent) have been relatively unchanged.
. . . Among the other recommendations the College Board suggests to help boost completion: Improve middle and high school college counseling, provide more need-based financial aid, increase transparency in the financial-aid process, control college costs, reduce college dropouts with data-based retention strategies, and ease transfer processes.
Need-based grant aid increased by 1.7 percent for low-income students at community colleges, the report found.
Is a college degree worth (in future earnings) the time and money it will take? The Value of College Is: (a) Growing (b) Flat (c) Falling (d) All of the Above answers Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. He presents the case for and against college in 10 charts.
The case for college is established: The value of higher education has never been higher, period. A college degree — not only from Harvard, but from community colleges — turns out to be a better investment than stocks or homes. The fastest growing jobs in the next 10 years require an associate or bachelor’s degree, and every piece of evidence suggests that more education correlates with more income and a lower chance of unemployment.
The case against college is gaining steam: Tuition costs are rising and graduates’ incomes are flattening. Male bachelor’s-degree holders saw a nearly 10 percent decline in real pay over the last 10 years, according to recent Census figures. The U.S. has the highest college-dropout rate in the developed world, and studies have found that college confers “exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent” gains in academic skills.
Who’s right? Well, all of these claims are true. The value of college has never been higher. But growth of the college premium has slowed, and the wages of college graduates have fallen in the last 10 years.
Follow the link to check out all the charts. For me, the most striking shows that men are doing much worse, even with a college degree, while women continue to benefit from a college education.
The Great Recession has cut earnings and employment rates for recent college graduates, concludes a Brookings Institution study. But college graduates still do significantly better than less-educated workers.
Looking at people aged 23 and 24 and in the workforce, 88 percent of college graduates were employed in 2010; average weekly earnings were $581, including those out of work. That compares to a 79 percent employment for people with “some college,” 64 percent for high school graduates and 43 percent for high school drop-outs.
Iowahawk is less optimistic about the future for college graduates.