Fewer 4-year grads enroll at 2-year colleges

Slightly fewer bachelor’s degree graduates in the class of 2010 enrolled in a community college within two years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That may indicate more four-year graduates are able to find jobs without further training.

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.

‘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.

Students seek cheaper books, degrees

On Community College Spotlight: As textbook prices rise, students turn to rentals and hope for e-books.

Also, Florida community colleges are adding low-cost bachelor’s degree programs, especially in nursing, education and applied sciences.

Help wanted: BA not required

Jobseekers shouldn’t need a bachelor’s degree, writes Charles Murray in the New York Times.

Here’s a suggested battle cry, to be repeated in every speech on the subject: “It’s what you can do that should count when you apply for a job, not where you learned to do it.”

Murray wants to see tests of vocational skills replace years in college.

The residential college leading to a bachelor’s degree at the end of four years works fine for the children of parents who have plenty of money. It works fine for top students from all backgrounds who are drawn toward academics. But most 18-year-olds are not from families with plenty of money, not top students, and not drawn toward academics. They want to learn how to get a satisfying job that also pays well. That almost always means education beyond high school, but it need not mean four years on a campus, nor cost a small fortune. It need not mean getting a bachelor’s degree.

Students should be encouraged to seek a liberal education for its own sake, not as a job qualification, he writes.

Of course, Murray thinks that most people aren’t smart enough to earn a meaningful bachelor’s degree. I think it’s more a question of preparation than brainpower.  But it’s certainly true that years of schooling — lower or higher — are a very imperfect indicator of competence. Years ago, I worked with a smart, literate woman who turned out to be a high school drop-out. (She listed her high school on her resume, but never claimed to have earned a diploma.) She read books.