Graduates aren’t ready for college

On Community College Spotlight: Florida’s graduation rate is up, but many graduates aren’t prepared for college-level classes.

Two-year degrees are much cheaper than four-year degrees and raise earnings nearly as much, concludes a Connecticut study.  But the state invests most of its higher education dollars in the state university system, which educates half as many students as the community colleges.

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  1. The interesting thing lost in this debate is that *some* college degrees really pay off pretty good. Many others pay off poorly. Your decision on whether to go to a 2 or 4 year school shouldn’t be based on the average, it should be based on the particular degree you’re going for.

    In other words, someone planning to major in electrical engineering should do the math differently from someone planning to major in English. I would bet that the choice of degrees has a bigger effect on lifetime earnings than 2 or 4 year degree by a huge margin. Why isn’t this also discussed?

    I suppose it’s politically incorrect to try and influence the direction all the little snowflakes choose, but it’s shortsighted as hell.

  2. The state should set the level of aid for students in different programs by the return in taxes from the graduates.

  3. Soapbox0916 says:

    @Rob

    It is still not quite that simple. Right now, I personally know several recent electrical engineering graduates with great grades that cannot get work in their field right now (graduated last couple of years and are scattered throughout the nation).

    A ton of engineers got cut when companies were downsizing locally in my area and there are simply not enough good paying engineering jobs to support the supply. Graduates need to look at where they reasonably plan to live after they graduate to determine if there is a job that can support them in the field of study that they initially chose and if they have any skills that they can transfer to other fields if necessary. More rural type of areas may not keep up with big city averages even adjusting for cost of living differences.

    I was a scientist (not quite an engineer), but had to change fields in order to move back to my hometown to be closer to family. Not many science jobs where I live and it was my choice to move to a location where jobs were scarce in my previous field. The job I have currently, I could have been either a science or an English major, and in theory still have the same current job.

    Graduates need solid and realistic long-term career plans that go well beyond just looking at degree choices.

  4. The associate’s degree is what is needed by most people in the economy, as only 29% ever actually earn a BA/BS and many are currently looking for work. However, there is a lack of skilled labor in the country that could be alleviated with more associate and technical degrees.

    Certainly, at least 50% of students should start off in two years programs because stats show that is all they will ever finish. If they do two years of a BA, they get nothing and would have been better off at the CC level.

    American higher education is going to continue to falter until the reality of the two-year degree is more effectively promoted. Higher expectations and competition for BA/BS programs would help too, especially at the state level where it can be more effectively regulated.

  5. @ Soapbox0916:

    Urge your friends to move to better locales. Here in Austin, TX, for example, there are companies hiring (I get emails from recruiters at least once a week). The economy isn’t equally bad everywhere.

  6. Soapbox0916 says:

    @Rob, one of the recent electrical engineer graduates that I was talking about above is my cousin and he has seriously looked at some job offers from Texas, I am not sure about Austin specifically. The problem has been for him is that they will only offer him temp jobs and Texas is a long way to move from Florida for a temp job. I am curious what the fine print is that the recruiters are not telling when they send you e-mails. My cousin would understand a new employee having to go through a trial job period or if it was a temp job that led to a permanent job, but the offers for engineering jobs from Texas were truly temp jobs.

    My cousin does have a job because he is really smart and loves math, he has a stats type job that came out of some references from working for the 2010 Census earlier in the year, so he is employed, but he is not employed as an engineer and he makes no where near what the average starting engineer makes, but he is doing alright because he is really smart and he had no student loan debt. However he may never become an engineer despite having an engineering degree. His love for math gives him an advantage with transferable skills that can cross over to several job fields.

    The point I was really trying to make is that there is no degree that exists that will guarantee to get you a job everywhere even electrical engineering. Geography and recent hiring/layoff trends also matter. Expecting people to move across the nation on a moment’s notice with no job security is not really that good of an option either.

    Although I think a degree in electrical engineering gives one a lot more options than say women’s studies, I think one needs to focus on the potential careers after graduation more so than the degree by itself and also seriously consider where one is willing to live too. Someone made the point in an earlier post that it also depends on how one combines degrees. A philosophy degree may not be a bad choice if one goes to law school, but a horrible degree to stop off at the bachelor’s level.