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."

How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates, the newest research from Pew's Economic Mobility Project, reveals that a four-year college degree helped shield the latest graduates from a range of poor employment outcomes during the Great Recession, including unemployment, low-skill jobs and lesser wages.

"Higher education is one of the key factors driving upward mobility in the United States," said Diana Elliott, research manager of Pew's Economic Mobility Project. "Even under the pressures of the most recent economic downturn, a four-year college degree provided protection in the labor market for recent college graduates."

A college education both promotes upward mobility and prevents downward mobility, as shown by prior research from Pew's Economic Mobility Project. A college graduate has a three times greater chance of moving from the bottom to the top of the family income ladder than a person without a degree. Moreover, college graduates earn more and experience higher employment rates than their less-credentialed counterparts.

Analysis for How Much Protection Does A College Degree Afford?, using current data to measure the early labor market outcomes of 21–24-year-olds, was conducted by David B. Grusky, Beth Red Bird, Natassia Rodriguez and Christopher Wimer of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. As outlined in the report, findings furthered the project's understanding of postsecondary education as a key driver of upward mobility:

Although all 21–24-year-olds experienced declines in employment and wages during the recession, the decline was considerably more severe for those with only high school or associate degrees.

  • Before the recession, just over half of young adults with a high school degree (HS) were employed, compared to almost two-thirds of those with an associate degree (AA) and nearly three-fourths of those with a bachelor's degree (BA).
  • Job losses during the recession made existing employment gaps even worse. The employment declines for those with HS and AA degrees were 16 and 11 percent, respectively, compared with 7 percent for those with a BA degree.

The comparatively high employment rate of recent college graduates was not driven by a sharp increase in those settling for lesser jobs or lower wages.

The share of nonworking graduates seeking further education did not markedly change during the recession.

Out-of-work college graduates were able to find jobs during the downturn with more success than their less-educated counterparts.

  • The proportion of BA degree-holders who transitioned from being excluded from the labor market (i.e., not working or in school) to employment barely changed during the recession.
  • In contrast, the proportions of HS and AA graduates who found employment declined significantly with the recession — by approximately 10 percent for those with AA degrees and 8 percent for those with HS degrees.

Methodology: This report, drawing upon data from the 2003–2011 Current Population Survey, provides a comprehensive comparison of the economic well-being of high school and college graduates, ages 21 to 24, throughout the pre-recession, recession and postrecession periods.

For more information, visit

The Pew Charitable Trusts is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.
Read full Pew report on the impact of the recession on college graduates >

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."
Read full National Public Radio article >

Read this latest story from The Washington Post on the sharply rising numbers of graduate degrees being turned out by the nation's colleges and universities. According to the article, "From 2000 to 2012, the annual production of master's degrees jumped 63 percent, federal data show, growing 18 percentage points more than the output of bachelor's degrees. It is a sign of a quiet but profound transformation underway at many prominent universities, which are pouring more energy into job training than ever before."
Read more about Master's degree programs >

The new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, featured in our Spotlight section, was covered in a January 9, 2013 article by New York Times reporter Richard Pérez-Peña.
Read full New York Times article about the Pew report >