Archive for the ‘News & Op/Ed’ Category
In the midst of a bad economy, you may be wondering, “Is a college degree worth it? It is that important?” Rest assured, experts still assert that a college degree is your best asset when trying to join the workforce. While students with college degrees are often having trouble finding jobs, let alone jobs pertaining to their university major, people who do not have college degrees are having an even harder time.
According to a new research study published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the majority of jobs lost in the recession were held by workers who did not have a college degree (.pdf).
“The recession hit those with less schooling disproportionately hard—nearly four out of five jobs lost were held by those with no formal education beyond high school,” the introduction to the report said. “At the other end of the spectrum, workers who had completed a four-year college degree or higher were largely protected against job losses during the recession and some high-education fields even had job gains. The job recovery has only increased the divide between the less-educated and more-educated.”
With rising tuition costs and high unemployment rates across the country, many people began to question whether or not a college degree is really important. The study found that graduating from college remains an individual’s best ally in the job market.
Since the economy began a recovery phase, 3.4 million jobs have been added to the workforce. The study reports that all of the gains made were found in individuals who had received at least some level of college education. Students who had received a Bachelor’s degree found 2 million new jobs, and 91 percent of individuals who have an Associate’s degree have recovered the jobs they had before the recession.
Other factors of employment were also discussed, such as gender disparity and post-recession job gains.
“Although women still outnumber men among students enrolled in four-year colleges and graduate programs, the rate of men enrolling in college increased significantly during and after the recession. Though the differences between enrollment growth rates for men and women are marginal, the changes were taking place in the right direction. As a result, instead of a widening gap of college enrollment between men and women, enrollment levels of men and women are expected to parallel each other in the future,” the study said.
Although times may be tough, the benefits of education are indisputable, and experts urge high school seniors to attend college after graduation and attain the highest degree possible. This will ensure that students are well-equipped to find a job and become contributing members of society.
Researchers at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government have recently completed a study that tested the connection between institutional quality of a school and the completion rate of students who attend.
By analyzing the educational outcomes of students in Massachusetts public colleges, researchers found that there is a huge correlation between the two factors. Test subjects were students who were enrolled in a scholarship program that waives tuition fees for students with test scores above a specified level, and students in the program whose scores were below the specified level.
The scholarship program has been very successful in keeping smarter students in Massachusetts rather than attending another public or private university school out-of-state, but has not been very beneficial to those students who may be better suited for a higher-quality university. Many of them did not graduate in the standard four-year period.
“Choosing a lower-quality college significantly lowers on-time completion rates, a result driven by high-skilled students who would otherwise have attended higher-quality colleges,” the researchers explained. “For the marginal student, enrolling at an in-state public college lowered the probability of graduating on time by more than 40 percent.”
This study is important in the field of educational research because it is the first time that the evidence of the importance of university quality has been shown. Many high-achieving students are driven to attend universities they may be over-qualified for because of other considerations like tuition costs and distance away from home. In the college decision process, many families feel that quality is not the most important factor in picking a school.
Another important finding that the study noted was that students are extremely willing to not accept a spot at high-quality university if they are offered even a little bit of money from a lower-quality school.
It is definitely possible to get a good education anywhere in the United States, but for students just beginning the college search, it is important to set your sights on the best schools you can get into. If you love where you study and feel both mentally stimulated and happy with the social scene, you are likely to be that much more dedicated and driven to succeed. You only get to go to college once—make it count, and get the best education that you’re capable of!
A US News and World Report published last week stated that tablet devices are increasing in popularity in high schools, overtaking laptops and computers as the most common technology used in the classroom.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was surprised by the increased rate of use, telling investors, “Education tends to be a conservative institution, but we’re not seeing that at all on the iPad. The adoption of the iPad in education is something I’ve never seen in any technology.”
iBooks is a new technology that is competing with printed textbooks in the college classroom. With tablet use on the rise in high school classrooms, students will be well-equipped to conform to the new iBook technology when they pursue higher education.
Michael Singleton, head of social studies at Florida’s Orlando Science Schools, believes that tablets have caused increased motivation in the classroom. In this day and age, students respond well to technological advantages when preparing to leave for college. “I would say an iPad will one day be the same as a book bag or a ruler or a pencil. I think that the iPad will be an essential component to schools, it’s certainly something we can’t ignore as a school—we need to embrace it,” Singleton said.
Schools are also using tablets as an incentive for strong performance in the classroom. Students will be issued the devices for use in school and at home, a privilege that will only remain should the student maintain a specified GPA. Educational experts believe the use of tablets will transfer some learning responsibility from the teacher to the student.
Amidst the growth, there are still those who do not think that the technology is suitable for the classroom. Tablets are harder to type on than laptops, and provide more options for students to get distracted, like playing games, while teachers are trying to teach. Proponents of the technology believe that students and teachers will adjust to these problems.
Joel Klein, an education professional, explained in a press release, “It is our aim to amplify the power of digital innovation to transform teaching and learning and to help schools deliver fundamentally better experiences and results.”
With technology taking over every facet of life in modern society, it’s only a matter of time before students are required to bring tablets to school, where teachers will utilize the numerous features in their lesson plans.
“Take a look to your left. Now take a look to your right. One of these people will not make it to graduation.”
During your college orientation, it is common for there to be one member of academia who stands with their microphone before a freshmen audience and says this line. It’s true. According to a study done by the Chronicle of Higher Education, out of the four million students who began college in 2004, half of them did not graduate. The number of students who drop out of college continues to increase.
An article published July 31, 2012 by Jennifer Gonzalez suspects that part of the problem lies with students enrolling into school who just aren’t ready to take on the challenges of college level coursework. The article points to the use of placement tests in community colleges in particular as an ineffective tool when it comes to determining a student’s readiness for higher education.
One of its flaws is that it’s a standardized test that only focuses on math and English skills. It’s a fairly accepted idea in education at this point that these kinds of tests are not an accurate measure of one’s abilities. There are many highly-talented students who earn straight As in school that still won’t perform well on a performance test. Similarly, there are students who can score very highly on these kinds of tests but don’t have what it takes to pass a college course.
As one educator indicates in the article, it takes a lot more to succeed in college than a high test score. You could have all the brains, but if you don’t have the motivation to complete your work, or to show up to class, you won’t make it through college. You could score in the highest percentile on your SATs but be unable to pick yourself back up when you fail. You could ace an entrance test, but still have no desire to be in college in the first place! Placement tests in general are only a very narrow peek inside what a student would be capable of in college. It is suggested in the article that if anything, high school grades would be a much more accurate representation of how a student is expected to perform.
While high school grades, motivation, and persistence are all major factors that can help to determine whether or not a student can succeed at the college level, even this seems to just barely be the skin of the issue. What about one’s readiness to leave home? What about one’s ability to act in social situations? How about emotional maturity? There’s a lot of character to consider.
In addition, the level of difficulty amongst degree programs is not consistent, nor are they all taught with the same methods. What is the standard by which these students are being evaluated and compared?
This leads to the overall question: Is it possible to predict how a student will perform in college, and if so, how can this information help increase graduation rates in the years to come?
It’s not uncommon to ask a recent college graduate what their next step in life will be, and hear them reply with, “move back home and pay off my debt” or “find a job–any job!” As an increasing number of college graduates find themselves back at home with their parents and working jobs they could have obtained out of high school, the value of a college degree has fallen under some serious debate. But these criticisms of higher education have not fallen upon deaf ears. Earlier this month, The Society for College and University Planning held a conference in Chicago with a focus on how colleges and universities can change to be more relevant in today’s society.
Scott Carlson’s article College Planners Discuss How They Push for Change includes the podcast interviews of three individuals who gave speeches at this conference.
Sanford Shugart, the president of Valancia college in Florida, indicates that change is vital for numerous reasons, including the cost of college being an inadequate fit for the current market, and academic results not being as high as they should be. Shugart believes that in order to change college education, change needs to happen within the culture. He identifies the culture as being the millions of decisions made on a daily basis by students, faculty, and staff. Obviously, that’s a pretty major change, but Shugart, having identified the roots of higher education being eight-hundred years old, says it will take a change that scale to counter what is in our history.
Associate Vice President of the University of the Pacific Robert Brodnick, introduces his idea of “design thinking,” a concept that combines analytical thinking and creative thinking to produce a product. His theory is that analytical thinking to solve problems is overrated, and that by using intuition and emotion in all fields, as many of the creative fields already do, change can happen amongst not only college institutions, but corporate America. He says it’s these two areas that will need to change the most for our jobs to stay relevant.
The final podcast, which is an interview with Ira Fink, a college planner, indicates that change needs to happen in the way colleges think about money. Just as airlines increase their rates during the holidays and summer months, and decrease their rates during slow seasons, colleges need to consider how their space is used, and what the cost is for that space, in order to make a profit. He identifies Apple as being a company that can successfully think about their business in this sense, and believes it would be wise for education to consider doing the same.
It’s evident something about college education needs to change, but what that something is exactly can be hard to pin point. Is the educational system broken, or is the job market broken? Does the cost of college need to go down, or do jobs need to pay enough for students to able to afford their debt?
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According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a survey conducted by Widmeyer Communication indicates that Americans are split on the current value of a college degree.
The question was, “Is a college degree as valuable as it was twenty years ago?” This would put us at 1992. Of those surveyed, 46% said a college degree is just as valuable, while 41% stated that it wasn’t. While those may seem like surprising numbers, 60% of those surveyed indicated that regardless of whether or not a college degree is as valuable as it used to be, it’s still a good investment.
Why might some view a college degree as being less valuable today than in 1992? There could be a variety of answers for this.
As of 2012, more than 30% of U.S. adults have a bachelor’s degree, which is a record in American history. As the New York Times article “U.S. Bachelor Degree Rate Passes Milestones” points out, this increase began in the mid 1990’s. So more people have a college degree now than in 1992. Does more people having a college education make it less valuable? Maybe.
On the one hand, recent college graduates looking for a job may feel like their degree isn’t anything that’s going to put them ahead of the game. With the competition all having a bachelor’s degree as well, it’s the work experience, internships, and other “add-ons” to the degree that will land you a position. In addition, as college graduates struggle to find jobs and pay off loans, many will find themselves working retail, food service, and other jobs they could have obtained without having gone to college. Based on a 2010 article entitled “The Great College Degree Scam” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, as of 2008, out of the nearly 50 million college educated adults, 17 million were working in jobs that didn’t require a college degree.
On the other hand, if getting a college degree is the bare minimum requirement for so many jobs, getting a degree is all the more important. An employer is more likely to hire someone with a college degree over someone who doesn’t have one, even for retail and food service jobs. Having a degree can also be the difference between getting promoted to management and staying where you are.
One also needs to address the personal value of a college education. Those who’ve gone to college have a wide range of knowledge on more than just their field of study. They’re often more appreciative and accepting of diversity. They’ve learned to form solid opinions and ideas based on facts. College students know how to find the answers when they don’t know them. They can respectfully debate an issue. They can hypothesize. They can dream. College students in general are well-rounded people. Regardless of whether or not they currently have a job, or what that job is, the intellectual growth and personal development that comes with a college education is invaluable.
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