What colleges don’t teach: How to get a job

Twenty years ago, Aimée Eubanks Davis taught low-income, black students in a New Orleans middle school, reports Gabrielle Emmanuel on NPR. She was proud when former students earned college degrees, but many first-generation college graduates “didn’t know how to get that good, first job,” the teacher discovered. They didn’t know successful professionals. They had no career networks.

Black and Hispanic college graduates are less likely to find employment than white classmates and earn less over their careers, researchers have found.

Eubanks Davis created a nonprofit called Braven, which has partnered with San Jose State and Rutgers. Professionals from the working world teach workplace skills to small groups of college students.

Yannick Kpodar, a consultant by day, teaches Braven students in an evening class at San Jose State. Students do most of the talking, while he critiques their presentation skills.

Jalil Ahmad, a Braven student at San Jose State, was inspired by a tour of Google.

Jalil Ahmad, a Braven student at San Jose State, was inspired by a tour of Google.

Acting as consultants, Braven students analyze data, conduct interviews and recommend solutions to the student debt crisis.

One group says colleges should solicit corporate sponsors to pay some of the costs, while another plans to itemize everything — the gym, the library, the student union — so students pay only for what they use. A third group proposes giving students a lifetime to repay college loans.

The top team won a tour of Google.

Braven students are more likely to stay on track to graduation, reports San Jose State, which has made the program a for-credit course. Braven students are twice as likely to find internships and other work experiences.

“It’s extremely difficult for college graduates to figure out what they need to do to best prepare for the workforce,” writes Jeffrey Selingo. “One recent study predicts that nearly half of American jobs are at risk from automation and artificial intelligence.”

A dream job? Wake up

Don’t follow your passion, advises Mike Rowe in PragerU’s commencement address. Find a way to make a living — don’t expect a “dream job” –and get good at it.

“Year after year, thousands of aspiring American Idols show up with great expectations, only to learn that they don’t possess the skills they thought they did,” says Rowe. “What’s really amazing though, is not their lack of talent—the world is full of people who can’t sing. It’s their genuine shock at being rejected—the incredible realization that their passion and their ability had nothing to do with each other.”

Texas shows college options, pay-offs

What will it cost to major in anthropology — or dental hygiene — at nearby colleges? What do graduates earn one year and 10 years out? Texas has created a searchable, customizable site that helps prospect students browse possible majors, careers and college options. It also includes a “reality check” to help young people estimate how much they’ll need to earn to support their lifestyle.

The college premium is growing, but higher education’s benefits vary significantly by “individuals, types of credentials, occupations, and geographical locations.”

Does college pay?

Does college pay? A new web site called College Risk Report asks the collegebound to enter their prospective college or university and their major, then estimates how long it would take a graduate to pay for a bachelor’s degree and graphs lifetime earnings for a bachelor’s, associate degree and a high school diploma.

A proposed New University of California would award credits and degrees to people who prove their mastery of subject matter by passing exams, regardless of whether they attended a class, studied online, learned on the job or read a bunch of books.

‘Boys learn by running around and fighting’

Boys stink at school but it doesn’t matter, writes Penelope Trunk, who’s homeschooling her sons.

Now research shows us that the gender discrepancy starts early because little girls learn by being focused and engaging with the teacher and little boys learn by running around and fighting.

. . .  it doesn’t matter. Because boys suck at school, and then they go to college and play video games and pick-up basketball and beer pong for four years and they leave their GPA off their resume and they race up the corporate ladder.

Because the corporate world favors compartmentalized thinking (as in “my kids are not in front of me so they do not exist”) and men have it and women don’t so kids mess up women’s careers. Women out earn men until there are kids. Then, for the rest of their adult life, men out earn women.

Forcing boys to “learn like girls” is pointless, Trunk writes. “I took my boys out of school – they turn cartwheels during school hours. And you should do the same for your sons, too.”

Of course, not everybody has that choice.

Majors that pay: STEM — and government

Payscale’s Majors That Pay You Back starts with engineering majors: Petroleum engineers start at $98,000 and earn a median mid-career salary of $163,000.  Then comes other STEM majors such as applied math, computer science, statistics and physics.

Government is the top-earning non-STEM major, as measured by mid-career pay, at the 14th spot. Government majors start at $42,000 and hit $95,600 by mid-career, according to Payscale.

Economics is 15th and international relations is 16th. Then it’s back to STEM majors till urban planning pops up at #40.

Education is #110 with a median starting salary of $37,200 and mid-career median of $55,000.

Some of the lowest-paying majors — special education, Biblical studies, social work and child and family studies — make the list of Majors That Change the World.

Most new jobs don’t require a college degree, notes Cost of College. However, most of the fastest growing jobs — retail sales, home health aide, personal care aide, clerical worker — pay poorly.

Dual enrollment boosts college success

Texas students who completed even a single college class in high school were significantly more likely to attend college and eventually graduate, compared to similar students not in dual enrollment programs, reports a Jobs for the Future study.

New York City’s P-Tech is drawing students willing to spend six years in high school to earn a diploma and an associate degree in computer information systems or engineering technology. IBM worked with city colleges to develop the program.

How the Germans (and others) do voc ed

Nancy Hoffman’s Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life reminds us of how much the U.S. has neglected vocational education, writes Graham Down in an Ed Next review.

Believing in equality of educational opportunity, U.S. schools promote the same goal — some sort of college — to all students, Hoffman writes. Our competitors — Germany,  Austria, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland — integrate job training with academics, increasingly moving learning from the classroom to the workplace.

In the U.S., Hoffman sees promising  CTE (Career and Technical Education) in Big Picture Learning schools, Project Lead the Way and Linked Learning  However, the U.S. culture makes it very hard to offer vocational training without promising that most students will end up going to college.

Students talk about the college journey

Community college students talk about barriers to completion, such as dead-end remedial classes, conflicting advice on what courses to take and limited exposure to career options.

Nobody can ‘have it all’

Women still can’t have it all, writes Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic. She left a high-powered State Department job to return to academia to have time for her children. She wants employers to let people — not just parents — work from home when possible and take time for family needs.

. . . women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years.

Remember the outcry when Felice Schwartz told employers to create a family-friendly alternative for professionals? It was dubbed the “mommy track.”

Men can’t have it all either, responds James Joyner. His wife died suddenly, leaving him with a toddler and an infant.

Not long after my wife’s passing, I was offered a promotion that would have helped bridge the loss of her income but would have required much more time at the office. Professionally, it was a good move. It also made sense financially, even though it would have meant paying for a few more hours of childcare. I nonetheless declined because my daughters needed me to spend that time with them. And, frankly, I needed to spend that time with them, too.

The fact is that life is full of trade-offs. It’s not possible to “have it all.” It never was. And never will be. For women or for men.

Of course, most people aren’t going to be CEO or Secretary of State no matter how hard or long they work.