‘Addicted’ to bachelor’s degrees

America must break its “addiction” to bachelor’s degrees and recognize other routes to the middle class, said Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research, as part of a lecture series on social mobility.  “The contemporary bachelor’s degree takes too long, it’s too expensive and it’s not for everyone,” he said.

Wage data show that one- and two-year degrees and certificates in technical fields lead to rewarding careers, reports Diverse.  Plumbers and technicians with a vocational certificate can earn more than $71,000 a year a decade after entering the workforce. That’s more than many bachelor’s degree holders earn, especially those in non-technical fields. “Where you learn how to fix things, you win,”  said Schneider.

His College Measures web site provides information about expected wages for different degrees or certificates.

We have to make people understand there are cheaper ways to get people into the labor market,” Schneider said, noting that surveys have shown students say high wages and middleclass careers are important goals.

On average, four-year graduates earn more than those with two-year degrees, but “much is hidden in the averages,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“What we have is a big black box in American higher education, a big impenetrable black box. It cost about $450 billion per year. It has 20 million students in it,” Carnevale said. “We’re not sure what produces learning and earning. We drop money in it every year, pay almost no attention to what comes out at the other end, and at some point that becomes intolerable because we don’t have another $450 billion.”

Both agreed the U.S. can’t afford to keep putting money into higher education without considering the outcomes.


Study links voucher use to college success

A privately funded New York City voucher program improved the lives of the low-income, minority students who attended a private elementary school, according to a new study by Matthew M. Chingos of the Brookings Institution and Paul E. Peterson of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Voucher users were more likely to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree, concluded the study, which is set for publication in the Journal of Public Economics. 

Students who received vouchers in 1997 were compared to a randomly selected group who applied for vouchers but lost the lottery.

Immigrant students did no better with a voucher, compared to the control group. However, U.S.-born students who used a voucher were 18 percent more likely to enroll in college and 61 percent more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

California OKs 4-year degrees at 2-year colleges

Fifteen California community colleges will be allowed to offer bachelor’s degrees in vocational fields. That makes California the 22nd state to let students earn four-year vocational degrees at two-year colleges.

California OKs 4-year degrees at 2-year colleges

As early as next year, some California community colleges  will start offering four-year degrees in technical and vocational fields, if the governor signs a bill that cleared the state Legislature Thursday.

Some employers now demand four-year degrees even in fields such as dental hygiene and auto mechanics, said the state’s community college chancellor.

College for more — since 1940


This MetricMaps GIF shows how college attainment has spread. In 1940, no more than 7 percent of adults in any state had a bachelor’s degree, notes Vox. That rose to 10 percent by 1960. Fifty years later, the best-educated states are nearing 40 percent.

CCs add 4-year degrees, but face pushback

Community colleges in 22 states now offer four-year degrees — usually in technical and vocational fields — but universities are fighting the trend.

California eyes 4-year degrees at 2-year colleges

California may let community colleges offer low-cost bachelor’s degrees, if they don’t compete with state universities. Credential inflation is making it harder for two-year graduates in fields such as nursing and respiratory therapy to find jobs. But there are few places in programs at state universities. Twenty-one states now have bachelor’s programs — almost always vocational — at community colleges.

Twenty-eight percent of community college students in Indiana complete a certificate or degree in six years, the state estimates.

10 years after 10th grade …

Ten years after 10th grade, 33 percent of young people had earned bachelor’s degrees or higher, reports a longitudinal federal study. Nine percent reported their highest credential was an associate degree and 10 percent earned a certificate, Another third reported “some college” but no credential.

Sixty-three percent were working and finished with school; another 19 percent were working and taking college classes. Five percent were taking courses and not working, while 13 percent were out of work and out of school.

Forty percent of those who’d attended college did not take out student loans and another 16 percent borrowed less than $10,000.  Thirty-three percent borrowed $10,000 to $50,000 for college and 11 percent took out $50,000 or more in student loans.

High school grades strongly predicted college success. Only 12.4 percent of C students (2.0 to 2.49) and 27.6 percent of C+ students (2.5 to 2.99) earned a bachelor’s degree. That rose to 50.1 percent for B students  (3.00 to 3.49) and 76 percent for students with a 3.50 or better.

Universities fight 4-year CC degrees

Colorado university leaders are fighting a bill that would let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in vocational  and technical fields, charging “mission creep.”  Supporters say rural students could earn workforce credentials without relocating. It’s a growing trend with Florida community colleges leading the way.

U of Phoenix partners with community colleges

The University of Phoenix will roll out more than 100 new partnerships with community colleges in the coming year. The nation’s largest for-profit university will offer bachelor’s degree programs to two-year graduates, gaining students who are more likely to graduate and repay their student loans.

Under increasing regulatory scrutiny, the University of Phoenix has seen enrollment drop precipitously from a peak near 500,000 to 320,000.