The College Board has released its report, "Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society," which documents the ways in which both individuals and society as a whole benefit from increased levels of education. The report finds that benefits include increased earnings, higher employment levels, and greater tax revenues; better health and increased civic engagement. More specifically, it finds that Associate's Degree holders will make 27% more than those with only a high school diploma.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on two new studies seeking to answer the question of whether college is still worth the cost. In the article Scott Carlson looks at "Smart Shoppers: The End of the 'College for All' Debate?," from College Summit, a nonprofit group that promotes broader college access and "The Economics of B.A. Ambivalence: The Case of California Higher Education," written by Alan Benson, an assistant professor in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Benson's conclusion is that,
"College remains a good investment for both individuals and the state, but it is a 'steppingstone' to the middle class–not a ticket. As such, it deserves the scrutiny an individual would give to any risky investment."
This Huffington Post opinion piece from Patricia McGuire, President, Trinity Washington University, provides a common sense argument for the value of higher education, especially for, "...a distinctively ambitious population of young women with serious life challenges, as well as older women and men who are resuming long-deferred dreams to finish college degrees." Many are immigrants McQuire says, who "have overcome unfathomable barriers of language, money, culture, violence, illness, discrimination and sheer fear to make it to opening day. Others, like my student Renee (also not her real name), grew up on the mean streets of far southeast D.C., coping with parental incarceration, drug use, hunger and homelessness while helping to raise siblings even while finishing high school and gaining acceptance to college." McGuire decries the "elite commentariat" who say that maybe we need more job training, less Shakespeare and more socket wrenches." She also weighs in on the value and role of MOOC's.
Employers value a four-year college degree, many of them more than ever.
As if we needed any more proof of the value of higher education, we have the results of a recent survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media's Marketplace. It contains very interesting findings that reaffirm the value of the investment of time and money but they also found that respondents said they had trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization. Nearly a third of those surveyed gave colleges just fair to poor marks for producing successful employees. Their major complaint? Bachelor degree-holders lacked "basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems."
"Woefully unprepared" is how David E. Boyes characterized the newly minted B.A.'s who apply to his Northern Virginia technology consulting company.
What gives? These days a bachelor's degree is practically a prerequisite for getting your résumé read—two-thirds of employers said they never waive degree requirements, or do so only for particularly outstanding candidates. But clearly the credential leaves employers wanting. While they use college as a sorting mechanism, to signal job candidates' discipline and drive, they think it is falling short in adequately preparing new hires.
The tension may lie partly in changes in the world of work: technological transformation and evolving expectations that employees be ready to handle everything straightaway. And perhaps managers are right to expect an easier time finding employees up to the task—after all, three times the proportion of Americans have bachelor's degrees now as did a generation or two ago. Read more...
This opinion piece from the Hechinger Report by Donald Hall, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh University, take a interesting look the benefits of higher education not just from the standpoint of cost or job prospects, but rather "value," a data point that he contends colleges and universities should track, report and promote. Commenting on such proof points he says, "It's certainly about more than price and return-on-investment. These are valuable data points, clearly. But the price of a house doesn't represent the value of your home. A home is what you make of it, as is higher education. It's a framework for your life, where memories are created, lifelong friends are met and you grow into your own person. When we discuss the state of higher education with my colleagues at other schools, or our students, faculty and staff, what we discuss more than salary data is value."
A recent story in The New York Times reports that federal data is showing that the number of Americans graduating from college has surged, "sending the share with a college degree to a new high."
According to reporter Catherine Rampell, "Last year, 33.5 percent of Americans ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 24.7 percent in 1995, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 1975, the share was 21.9 percent. The number of two-year college degrees, master's degrees and doctorates has also risen recently."
Later in the article she notes that, despite controversy the costs and challenges of pursuing a higher education degree, "Many economists point out that college graduates have fared much better than their less-educated peers and argue that rising educational levels will help the economy in the long run. Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of Americans with bachelor's degrees who have jobs has risen by 9 percent, while employment has fallen for everyone else.
Also noted in the article is the fact that the unemployment rate for graduates of four-year colleges between the ages of 25 and 34 was 3.3 percent in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For high school graduates in the same age group who had not attended college, it was 11.8 percent.
A new study from The Hamilton Project, a Washington, DC-based think tank reports that "…the investment in even a partial college education is still worth it, amounting to average earnings of $100,000 more over a lifetime than for those who merely finish high school."
Here's another story on the fact that it pays to earn a college degree. However, you have to get the right degree. This feature from National Public Radio features Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce. He's discussing their latest study "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings."
The website Payscale.com recently released a list of more than 1,500 schools measured purely by the 30-year return on investment (ROI) for Bachelor's degrees. The site also tracks typical starting salaries for graduates of these schools. Find out which are the top schools and why.
The New York Times covered the Labor Department's recent report showing the unemployment rate for college graduates in April was a mere 3.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for the work force as a whole. "Even when the jobless rate for college graduates was at its very worst in this business cycle, in November 2010, it was still just 5.1 percent. That is close to the jobless rate the rest of the work force experiences when the economy is good," states the article. "Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started."
Read more about the employment status of college graduates >
A report recently released by CollegeMeasures.org outlines the first-year earnings of recent graduates from two- and four-year public institutions of higher education in Texas. The report concludes that while the degree a student earns is important, the student's program and institution are also key contributors to their first-year earnings. Technical college degrees were also found to have a significant payoff in the Texas labor market.
See the full report on earnings of Texas graduates >