Tennessee: 2-year degree pays off

New associate-degree graduates in Tennessee average higher earnings than four-year graduates. Health care, construction and technology are top-earning fields for two-year graduates.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Community colleges will get $500 million in federal grants to fund job training.

Chicago plans six-year tech high schools

Chicago will open five new six-year high schools that will let students complete “grade 14″ with an associate degree and high-tech job skills. IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Verizon will develop curricula, mentor students, provide summer internships and guarantee a “first-in-line” job interview after graduation.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Dual enrollment classes let a wide range of students — not just high achievers — earn college and high school credits at the same time. Does it raise the odds of college success?

‘Degree creep’ for health careers

“Degree creep” – requiring a bachelor’s instead of an associate degree — could make it harder to qualify as a nurse, respiratory therapist, nuclear medicine technician, dental hygienist or dietician.

Where the jobs (and pay) will be

Where will the jobs (and middle-class wages) will be in the next few years for people without four-year college degrees? Retiring baby boomers will open up manufacturing jobs for male high school graduates. Women will need a certificate or associate degree — preferably in a health-care field — to have a shot at earning at least $35,000 a year.

Also on Community College Spotlight: To provide realistic training in restaurant work, a college culinary arts program has opened its own bistro.

Industry attacks open courseware

Community colleges that receive federal job-training grants are required to share any learning materials developed. But software publishers are lobbying for a new law banning “open educational resources” developed with federal funding.

Also on Community College Spotlight: IBM will help Chicago design new six-year high schools that will combine technical training and college classes leading to an associate degree and an IT job.

Louisiana: CC grads earn more, work more

Louisiana’s recent associate-degree graduates are more likely to find jobs — at higher pay — than graduates with four-year degrees, according to a state report.

Eighteen months after graduation, 72.5 percent of associate-degree graduates were employed in Louisiana, compared to 59.5 percent of graduates with bachelor’s degrees.  New associate degree holders — many with degrees in medical and technical fields — earned $3,000 a year more than new four-year graduates.

Also on Community College Spotlight: High-paying jobs for two-year graduates.

Dual enrollment isn’t fast track in Florida

Florida’s dual-enrollment students are double dipping, analysts complain. After earning a tuition-free associate degree in high school, students use state scholarships to fund three or four years at the University of Florida. Only six percent complete a bachelor’s degree in two years.

Also on Community College Spotlight: A Mississippi college will offer a military tech  degree for veterans and active-duty soldiers.

A costly way to identify intelligence

Most people don’t need a college education to do their job, but they need a degree to get hired, writes Daniel Indiviglio in The Atlantic. It’s a very expensive way to identify who’s smart enough to do a job, he writes.

. . . when high school standards declined and college became more popular, some applicants stood out above others as being more educated and potentially smarter than those with only a high school diploma. If the trend keeps up, however, a time will come when a college degree isn’t enough either: masters degrees will be commonly sought, as the value of college degrees fall to be worth as little high school degrees are today, since so many applicants will have them. If this trend keeps up forever, perhaps we’ll one day have locksmiths with PhD’s.

Waitresses with a college degree earn more money, but it’s probably not the degree, argues Andrew Gillen.

College is the best investment on the market (for those who complete a degree), counters  Derek Thompson, also in The Atlantic.  Over a working lifetime, “the typical college graduate earns $570,000 more than the average person with only a high school diploma.”

Let’s say you’re deciding where to invest $100,000 at age 18. Maybe you think to put it in gold, corporate bonds, U.S. government debt, or hot company stocks.

The $102,000 investment in a four-year college yields a rate of return of 15.2 percent per year, more than double the average return over the last 60 years experienced in the stock market” and more than five times the return in corporate bonds, gold, long-term government bonds, or housing, according to a report by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney.

Note that the associate degree’s rate of return is 20 percent, higher than the pay-off for the  bachelor’s degree. I’d guess that’s because the costs of attaining the degree are lower and many associate degrees go to nurses, who make good money.

College for low-achieving 11th graders?

College classes for low-achieving 11th graders? It’s a hot idea, writes Community College Dean. And a bad one.

Also on Community College Spotlight: First, he earned an associate degree. Next he’ll graduate from  high school.

‘Stupiphanies’

At an innovation conference, Community College Dean has a “stupiphany” — the sudden realization that you were an idiot for not knowing something before. The more classes a remedial student must take, the more likely the student will give up. Each class is an exit point.

Another stupiphany:  Remedial students are much more likely to succeed when basic skills are taught along with vocational skills. Yet California’s community college system eliminated many “contextualized” classes that help students earn an occupational certificate in favor of traditional remedial classes geared toward associate degrees.