Would-be rock stars in Britain will be able to earn a two-year degree in heavy metal music at New College Nottingham. A group called the Campaign for Real Education says the degree is a waste of time, reports BBC News.
Liam Maloy, a lecturer in music performance, said students will learn how to compose and perform heavy metal songs. They’ll also study the music business, the history of heavy metal and its role in films and video games. In the second year, they’ll perform around the country.
”It’s a degree, so it will be academically rigorous,” said Mr Maloy.
“In the past, heavy metal has not been taken seriously and is seen as lacking academic credibility when compared with other genres such as jazz and classical music. But that’s just a cultural construction.”
Students who continue music studies for a third year can qualify for a university degree.
“There are too many degrees being offered that lack credibility in the marketplace,” said Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. ”It might seem an attractive, easy option to some people. But you don’t need to do a degree in heavy metal. It’s a waste of time.”
Via Captain Capitalism, who recommends Aaron Clarey’s book, Worthless: The Young Person’s Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major.
Unless California helps low-income parents learn basic skills, train for jobs and pursue higher education, the state’s prosperity is at risk, concludes Working Hard, Left Behind. The Campaign for College Opportunity, the Women’s Foundation of California and Working Poor Families project collaborated on the report.
California leads the nation in low-income working adults and in poorly educated adults. More than 1 out of 10 adults over 24 years of age have less than a ninth-grade education; nearly 1 in 5 adults didn’t complete high school.
The state will be 2.3 million vocational certificate, two-year and four-year degree graduates short of meeting the needs of the state economy by 2025, the report estimates.
“This is an alarming gap,” said Michele Siqueiros, the campaign’s executive director. “On one hand, we have millions of hard-working, low-income adults who have limited chances of upward mobility because of obstacles to higher education access and completion. On the other hand, thousands of companies are seeking well-skilled and highly trained workers.”
California needs to create a “public agenda for higher education that sets clear goals for preparing high school students for college, transitioning adult students into postsecondary education and the workforce, increasing the number of certificate and degree completions, while monitoring progress toward those goals, and aligning policies and budgets needed to reach them,” the report recommends.
It calls for improving coordination between high schools, adult education, community colleges and four-year universities and tracking low-income students’ progress as they move from one education system to another.
Non-traditional students need better access to financial aid and access to counseling and child care, Working Hard, Left Behind concludes. In 2009-10, only a third of the state’s community college students applied for a Pell Grant, leaving an estimated $500 million in aid unclaimed.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to community colleges to take over adult education, but his plan is on hold in the Legislature, reports EdSource. Currently, K-12 districts spend less than $300 million on adult schools, down from $634 million before the recession. Courses include literacy, English as a Second Language, citizenship, parenting, vocational education and GED and high school diploma courses. Brown proposes $300 million in state funding for adult ed at community colleges.
Affordable child care and information about high-paying technical careers would help more women earn a degree and qualify for middle-class jobs, concludes Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success, a new report by the American Association of University Women.
Some 57 percent of community college students are women, estimates the AAUW. One in four are mothers, often with work and family responsibilities.
Community colleges present an attractive option for mothers of young children, in part because they offer flexible schedules and low tuition. Unfortunately, limited access to child care disrupts the educational path of many mothers. Although more mothers enroll at community colleges than at four-year institutions, fewer than half of all community colleges offer on-campus child care, and available slots do not typically meet student demand. Student parents consistently cite child care responsibilities as a chief reason for dropping out . . .
Community colleges offer a wide range of job training, but most women choose traditionally female occupations, the report observes. While nursing pays well, women who choose early childhood education or cosmetology programs will earn much less than they could in technical fields. Only a fraction of women train to be “engineering technicians, automotive service technicians and mechanics, carpenters, and electricians.” Community colleges should try to close the gender gap in STEM career preparation, the AAUW advises.
Youth unemployment is a worldwide problem, reports The Economist in Generation jobless. Yet many employers in countries from the U.S. to Morocco say they can’t find entry-level workers with the right skills.
Poor basic education is only part of the problem.
Countries with the lowest youth jobless rates have a close relationship between education and work. Germany has a long tradition of high-quality vocational education and apprenticeships, which in recent years have helped it reduce youth unemployment despite only modest growth.
Countries with high youth unemployment are short of such links. In France few high-school leavers have any real experience of work. In north Africa universities focus on preparing their students to fill civil-service jobs even as companies complain about the shortage of technical skills. The unemployment rate in Morocco is five times as high for graduates as it is for people with only a primary education.
Employers do much less training on the job.
Many countries are trying to improve vocational schools and develop apprenticeships, reports The Economist.
In 2010 South Korea created a network of vocational “meister” schools—from the German for “master craftsman”—to reduce the country’s shortage of machine operators and plumbers. . . . In Britain some further-education colleges are embracing the principle that the best way to learn is to do: North Hertfordshire College has launched a business venture with Fit4less, a low-cost gym. Bluegrass College in Kentucky and Toyota have created a replica of a car factory, where workers and students go to classes together.
Bluegrass is a community and technical college, so job training is part of the mission. Many community colleges work closely with employers on workforce development.
Via Meadia has more thoughts on practical vs. academic education.
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.
A 19-year-old living with parents and seeking a bachelor’s degree and a 29-year-old single mother looking for job credentials have very different needs that can’t be served by a single Pell Grant, argues Rethinking Pell Grants by a College Board study group headed by Sandy Baum and funded by the Gates and Lumina Foundations. The group calls for creating Pell Grant Y for students who start college before they turn 25 and Pell Grant A for older students.
The Y (for young) grant creates incentives to finish a degree quickly. Students could take as many credits as they wish, including a summer session. They could take up to 125 percent of the credits required by their program and earn up to 150 credits, the maximum for a bachelor’s degree. Transfer students would have to show academic progress to receive additional Pell funds.
“Another unit of progress” — such as a measure of prior learning or competency — could be substituted for the credit hour, the policy brief adds.
The Pell Grant A (for adults) would look very different, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Forty-four percent of Pell recipients are 25 and older. Only 56 percent complete a credential within six years, compared to 74 percent of younger students. Only 36 percent hope to earn a bachelor’s degree — and only three percent reach that goal. Most are seeking vocational certificates and associate degrees. Thirty-one percent enroll in for-profit colleges, twice the percentage of younger students.
Pell A would be tailored to students seeking job training.
Students would apply once, before beginning their programs, and eligibility would be based on income — with students eligible for a full grant, half a grant or nothing throughout their entire college careers. The size of the full Pell Grant would be set at a level that would allow community college students to pay for tuition, fees, books and supplies. As with the Pell Grant Y, the size of individual awards would be determined based on the number of credits a student is pursuing.
Since many adult students would have to stop working to attend college full-time, the group also calls for the government to require or provide incentives for states to give students access to child-care assistance, Section 8 housing subsidies, food stamps and other welfare programs. And recipients of the Pell Grant A would also be required to get career counseling, which would be provided by the One-Stop Career Centers — which offer job training referrals, counseling and other employment services — created by the Workforce Investment Act.
Some older students want to earn a bachelor’s degree and some younger students are seeking vocational credentials, the report concedes. “However, age is highly correlated with these different paths.”
The study group also proposes creating federal education savings accounts for low-income students, starting at age 11 or 12, who are likely to be eligible for Pell aid in the future. Each year five to 10 percent of the Pell Grant would be deposited. It would be available when the student turns 17 to pay for higher education but would expire when the student turns 24.
Every year, students and their parents would receive a notification of how much money is in the account, as well as an estimate of the Pell Grant, state grants and tax benefits for which they would be eligible if they were already enrolled in college.
For $3.7 billion, the accounts would encourage young people from disadvantaged families to make college plans.
President Obama’s proposed change to student loan interest rates means today’s college students would save money but future students could pay much higher rates, reports Inside Higher Ed. The change, part of the president’s budget plan, would tie student loan interest rates to the government’s cost of borrowing. Right now, that’s very low. But if the economy improves, interest rates are expected to rise.
If Obama’s plan had gone into effect in 1990, “many students would have been looking at 10 or 11 percent interest at several points in the recent past, points out Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic.
Student groups criticized the interest rate plan, reports Inside Higher Ed. “Without a cap, this proposal falls far short of the comprehensive reform to student loans that we need,” five groups representing young voters — the National Campus Leadership Council, Rock the Vote, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Young Invincibles and Our Time — said in a combined statement. “Students have never taken out federal student loans without a cap on how high interest can go.”
The change in student loan interest rates is likely to become law, since it resembles a Senate Republican proposal, according to Inside Higher Ed. Other proposals are long shots.
. . . much of the budget — particularly proposals that call for new federal spending — is a politically symbolic wish list of ideas with little chance of becoming law: $8 billion in new money for community colleges from the Education and Labor Departments; a $150 million expansion to federal work-study; and $1 billion for a new competition among states to improve public higher education, among others. Obama proposed increasing discretionary spending on the Education Department by 4.6 percent over all, and increasing the maximum Pell Grant to $5,785 for the 2014-15 academic year.
The budget plan calls for supporting development of “third-party validation systems” for competency-based learning and ways to fund programs with good student outcomes, regardless of accreditation.
Weak math skills disqualify would-be workers, manufacturers say.
High school graduates applying for jobs at Tacoma’s General Plastics Manufacturing have to take a math test. The company makes foam products for the aerospace industry.
Eighteen questions, 30 minutes, and using a calculator is OK.
They are asked how to convert inches to feet, read a tape measure and find the density of a block of foam (mass divided by volume).
One in 10 pass the math test. And it’s not just a problem at General Plastics.
“Manufacturers are willing to train people about the specifics of their machines and technology,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of Work Force Central, a partnership of government, business, education and community organizations that trains workers in Tacoma and surrounding Pierce County. “But they can’t afford to hire someone who needs to relearn basic math.”
Math teachers know their students will need math knowledge in the real word, writes Darren, a high school math teacher, on Right on the Left Coast. But he’s turned off by the story’s “drooling over Common Core Standards. Many teachers ”doubt . . . the so-called cure.”
Having students write about math isn’t a real cure. Group work isn’t a cure. Collaboration requires everyone have some background knowledge on which to draw so everyone can contribute. I wouldn’t mind cutting a few topics out so we had more time to cover the remaining topics more deeply, but to insist on so-called discovery learning is an exceedingly inefficient use of instructional time.
Instead of trying to make math “fun” or “applicable”, perhaps we could consider instilling in students, or insisting on, some perseverance and a sense of responsibility, and maybe even some delayed gratification.
Employers would value those traits too, Darren believes.
Many students who slid through high school without really learning math enroll at community colleges with hopes of training for a job or eventually earning a bachelor’s degree. Placement in remedial math is the single biggest dream killer.
Discouraged by long-term unemployment, more Americans are dropping out of the workforce, at least for awhile, reports AP. Some are taking early retirement or applying for disability benefits. Others are enrolling in community college — or graduate school — in hopes of returning to the job market with stronger skills.
. . . the number of Americans in the labor force — those who have a job or are looking for one — fell by nearly half a million people from February to March, the government said Friday. And the percentage of working-age adults in the labor force — what’s called the participation rate — fell to 63.3 percent last month. It’s the lowest such figure since May 1979.
The unemployment rate dropped to a four-year low of 7.6 percent in March from 7.7 in February, but only because people who’ve stopped looking for a job aren’t counted as unemployed. The unemployment rate would have risen to 7.9 percent in March if 496,000 workers hadn’t given up their job search.
Even Americans of prime working age — 25 to 54 years old — are dropping out of the workforce. Their participation rate fell to 81.1 percent last month, tied with November for the lowest since December 1984.
. . .Young people are leaving the job market, too. The participation rate for Americans ages 20 to 24 hit a 41-year low 69.6 percent last year before bouncing back a bit. Many young people have enrolled in community colleges and universities. That’s one reason a record 63 percent of adults ages 25 to 29 have spent at least some time in college, according to the Pew Research Center.
Doug Damato, 40, who lives in Asheville, N.C., lost his job as an installer at a utility company in February 2012. That fall, he began studying mechanical engineering at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. When his unemployment benefits run out in July, he hopes to find a night job so he can complete his degree.