Community colleges are investing in new health-care training facilities, reports Community College Times. As baby boomers age, the “medical industrial complex” is expected to grow. That means more jobs in nursing, radiology, health information technology, physical therapy, dentistry and surgical technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 26 percent spike in jobs for registered nurses by 2020, a 32 percent increase in jobs for pharmacy technicians, a 28 percent increase in jobs for radiologic technologists, and a 33 percent increase in jobs for emergency medical technicians, among other sectors.
Elgin Community College near Chicago has built a new $41 million Health and Life Sciences Building and “strengthened relations with area hospitals, clinics, and other health care partners that take our students for their clinical experiences,” says Wendy Miller, the college’s dean of health professions. The college plans to add new certificate programs in magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography, and mammography.
A consortium of three Maryland community colleges shares the Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, which opened in August 2012. Students from Carroll Community College, Frederick Community College and Howard Community College study at the center.
Nursing student James Marsh shows criminal justice and corrections student Denzel Conze a jar of tar that represents one year’s worth of smoking in the lungs. — Carrie Chantler, The Citizen
Cayuga Community College (New York) nursing students are trying to help classmates quit smoking, reports The Citizen. Student volunteers are urging smokers to try the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Web Assisted Tobacco Intervention. Since September, 35 smokers have signed on to the digital interactive “quit tool.”
Collegebound students must dream the affordable dream, writes Michael Alcorn in the Arvada (Colorado) News. A music and fitness instructor, he’s the father of three children, including a daughter in 12th grade who wants to study nursing.
Me, the “life coach” parent, wants her to dream as big as the sky and the stars. . . .
Me, the “teacher” parent, really believes in education and higher education and the value of learning for learning’s sake . . .
But me, the “financial advisor” parent, looks at the average of $26,000 student loan debt for graduates, looks at one in three college graduates living in their parents’ basements, looks at 45-percent dropout rates and 40-percent graduate underemployment . . . This part of me loves the idea of two years of community college to get the general ed. out of the way, transferring all those credits to the great, local private university with the great nursing program, and finding a way to get her into life without crippling debt.
Only 20 percent of jobs require bachelor’s degrees, according to the Department of Labor, writes Alcorn. About 30 percent of adults are college graduates. “One hundred percent of high school students in any suburban school are told . . . they’re a failure if they don’t go to college.”
The three parents in his head keep arguing, but the one who says “debt be damned!” probably isn’t going to win, he concludes.
Marcus Carmicle trained to be a nursing aide and then a licensed practical nurse at Bluegrass Technical College in Kentucky. After 19 years as an LPN, he’s finally completing a nursing degree. The competency-based online program at Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges is making it possible to achieve his goal.
Meeting Students Where They Are profiles students in competency-based degree programs. Students say competency programs are demanding, according to the report by the Center for American Progress and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. Partial mastery isn’t good enough. Nobody squeaks by with a C.
Students said the competencies they learned apply directly to their work. Competency is “what employers look for, not how many hours you sit in a classroom,” said one student.
Adult students value the flexibility, the report says. “I wouldn’t have gone back to school if I had to give up my job,” said an MBA student. “I was only willing to go into so much debt.”
Student said they needed a degree to advance in their jobs. For example, a nurse with an associate degree needed a bachelor’s to be promoted.
Students value the chance to interact with classmates, the report finds. Predominantly online programs don’t offer that opportunity. Coaches, advisors and mentors also play an important role.
Financial aid should be available for students in competency-based programs, CAP and CAEL advocate. The next version of the Higher Education Act should identify ways to measure student progress other than by the credit hour.
“Competency-based education is spreading among community colleges” with help from Western Governors University, reports Inside Higher Ed. WGU “has helped 11 community colleges create their own competency-based degrees and certificates, mostly in information technology tracks” in the last year. The Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor have provided start-up funding.
Should you major in drama, anthropology, nursing or mechanical engineering? Majors matter when it comes to earnings and employment, reports the Bay Area News Group. With a bachelor’s in drama, a recent graduate can expect to earn $25,000 a year. Anthropology majors average $27,000 with 12.6 percent unemployment. Nursing graduates start at $48,000, while mechanical engineers can expect to earn $57,000 just out of college.
With experience, pharmaceutical and engineering majors nearly triple the salaries of arts majors.
California’s 112 community colleges may seek permission to offer bachelor’s degrees, reports Inside Higher Ed. A committee is studying the question.
A bachelor’s degree option could “increase college participation rates for local residents who are unable to relocate because of family or work commitments,” said Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris’s office, in a statement.
Twenty-one states now let two-year colleges offer some four-year degrees, especially in technical and occupational fields. Florida is a leader in expanding four-year options at community colleges, which are now called ”state colleges.”
However, there’s plenty of pushback, Inside Higher Ed notes. Public universities don’t like to compete for students and state funding. In Michigan, public universities are fighting a new law that lets community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in technical fields.
While some at community colleges worry about “mission creep,” others say a four-year option makes sense.
Community colleges cannot meet the demand for skilled workers in technical fields, said Bill Scroggins, president and CEO of Mt. San Antonio College.
Those jobs are also changing, said Scroggins, who is a committee member. Many employers are have added new hiring requirements for applicants to hold bachelor’s degrees. Nursing is a key example. As a result, two-year degrees no longer cut it in certain fields.
The 16-member committee is considering “applied” baccalaureates in nursing and technical fields.
Working adults will be able to earn college credit for what they already know, through the University of Wisconsin’s Flexible Option, reports NPR. Students will be able to earn a degree by proving they’ve mastered skills and knowledge.
Katie Hyland, a helicopter transport nurse at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, earned an associate degree in nursing five years ago. Now she needs a bachelor’s degree to keep her job. The hospital has given her three years to get it. She thinks she can finish in half the time through the nursing flex program.
UW faculty is designing ways to measure competencies, says Doris Schoneman, who helped create the nursing flex program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
MARGE PITROF: Faculty will also grade the assessments, and if the students pass, they’ll get the course credits. Schoneman says an advisor will guide each student, but the program does not include classmates or face time with instructors.
SCHONEMAN: The student needs to be self-directed and be able to set goals and to meet them. It’s not any easier; it’s just a different way.
In NPR’s comments, “Skepticmd” praised the flex program, but noted the report missed the real issue about Katie Hyland.
Specifically, what has changed about the job that it now requires a bachelor’s degree? Where is the proof that requiring current employees to expend time, opportunity costs and money on further baccalaureate studies will improve patient outcomes on the heliport landing? The new standard . . . creates a barrier to employment for otherwise competent and qualified individuals.
Will the helicopter nurse do her job any better once she earns a four-year degree? It seems unlikely, writes Skepticmd.
I think that’s a very good point.
Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others concludes a Lumina-funded report by Dr. Mark Schneider, the president of College Measures. “What you study matters more than where you study,” says Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Learning technical and occupational skills pays off, even for graduates of low-prestige colleges and universities. A music, photography or creative writing graduate from a prestige university will struggle.
Schneider analyzed first-year earnings of graduates of two-year and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Some short-term credentials, including occupational associate’s degrees and certificates, are worth as much or more than bachelor’s degrees, the study found. For example, Texans with technical associate’s degrees averaged more than $11,000 more than four-year graduates in their first year in the workforce.
Certificates that require one or two years of study may raise earnings as much as an associate degree, especially a transfer-oriented degree.
In Texas, certificate holders earned almost $15,000 more on average than graduates with academic associate’s degrees, but about $15,000 less than graduates with technical associate’s degrees.
Not surprisingly engineering degrees have the biggest payoff, followed by nursing and other health-related fields. What is a surprise is the weak demand for biology and chemistry graduates. ”The S in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is oversold,” the report found.
Despite the clamoring for more students to focus on STEM, the labor market shows less demand for science skills. Employers are paying more, often far more, for graduates with degrees in technology, engineering and math. There is no evidence that Biology or Chemistry majors earn a premium wage, compared with engineers, computer/information science or math majors. The labor market returns for science are similar to those of the liberal arts, like English Language and Literature.
Women now make up a majority of biology graduates and about half of chemistry majors.
“Prospective students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead” before they go into debt, the report concludes.
“Life coaching” is raising success rates for first-year students at Wallace State Community College and Central Alabama Community College, reports Community College Times. PAVES (Partnership for Accelerated Learning through Visualization, Engagement and Simulation is funded by a U.S. Labor Department job training grant.
Coaches help students balance college, work and family life, but do not advise on which classes they should take. They are “motivators, resources and sounding boards.”
Suzanne Harbin, WSCC’s director of advancement, said all of the coached students in the licensed practical nurse program continued their education in the program, while those who opted out of coaching did not all continue.
“Are there other factors involved? Sure there are, but if you have 100 percent of our students who were coached and were retained, that says a lot,” Harbin said.
There were some students, Harbin added, who—though they didn’t stay in the program they started—did remain enrolled at college, entering a new program of study.Their decision to switch was due in part to the coaching process, where the student discovered the program they first entered wasn’t a good fit.
Nursing student Stephanie Casey, who’d been out of college for 12 years, signed up for PAVES. “They can give me insight on where I’m not seeing what I’m doing wrong, where they can hurt my feelings, versus my family, who won’t,” she said.
Coaches talk with students, email or text message as often as once a week, depending on the student’s preferences.
The Texas State Technical College system will be funded based on graduates’ earnings rather than enrollment, starting on Sept. 1. The “value-added accountability funding formula” analyzes the difference between graduates’ income five years after graduating and the minimum wage to calculate how many dollars go to the technical colleges.
No young person should “spend life drifting from one low-skilled, minimum-wage job to the next,” said House Speaker Joe Straus in advocating for the funding change, reports the New York Times. But technical education isn’t expanding. ”Texas State Technical College West Texas — one of the four institutions that make up the state’s college system dedicated to technical education and work force development — has been shrinking.”
In 2007, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, more than 10,500 students were taking classes through T.S.T.C. West Texas, which has campuses in Brownwood, Abilene, Breckenridge and Sweetwater. Five years later, the school’s enrollment was about 1,500.
The college’s administrators say the decrease reflects a recalibration of the state’s approach to offering technical education.
. . . “What is education worth? That is really at the heart of the accountability debate,” said Michael Reeser, the former president of the West Texas campuses and current chancellor of the T.S.T.C. System.
. . . The other T.S.T.C. schools have also experienced recent dips in enrollment, though not as significantly as in West Texas. Mr. Reeser said that was because West Texas has been the test case for the new model and has been preparing for the transition since the concept was first floated in 2007.
The West Texas campuses have eliminated some programs: Digital media was popular, but didn’t lead to local jobs; agricultural technology did lead to good jobs but didn’t attract students. In addition, the West Texas campuses outsourced general academic courses to community colleges. And the nursing program lost students when it was placed on conditional approval status by the Texas Board of Nursing in 2012.