Certificate holders out-earn 4-year grads

People who’ve earned long-term vocational certificates and associate degrees start at higher wages than four-year graduates, a Tennessee study shows. After five years, the bachelor’s degree holders have caught up with two-year graduates, but don’t quite earn as much as the certificate holders.

College grad rates are misleading

Federal graduation rates are misleading for two-year institutions because they confuse associate degrees and short-term vocational certificates.

The feds only look at first-time, full-time college students. A new study finds completion rates are low for second-timers. Only 33.7 percent of returning college students completed their degree, compared with 54.1 percent of first-time students.

‘Some college’ pays — for some

California faces a shortage of “middle-skill” workers with technical certificates and associate degrees. The wage premium is high in “allied health” fields, where demand is growing. However, “some college” workers in other fields, such as child care and solar installation, earn no more than people with just a high school diploma.

Vocational certificates requiring one year of schooling or less can raise earnings significantly, a new study finds.

Job certificates raise earnings

More than 50 million U.S. adults, or one in four, have earned a vocational certificate or license, according to a new Census report on alternative credentials. For workers with less than a bachelor’s degrees, certificates and licenses provide an “earnings premium.”

Is our college students learning?

A college degree is supposed to signify mastery of a discipline, but testing firms see a window of opportunity for measures of college learning to help graduates in the job market, reports Inside Higher Ed.

. . .  skills assessments are related to potential higher education “disruptions” like competency-based education or even digital badging. They offer portable ways for students to show what they know and what they can do. And in this case, they’re verified by testing giants.

“This is how competencies could become the currency of the land instead of the credit hour,” said Michelle Rhee-Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank with a focus on education and health care.

(Rhee-Weise is no relation to the ex-D.C. schools chief.)

The Collegiate Learning Assessment is being upgraded this year to include a work readiness component and more student-level data.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) introduced two new electronic certificates for student learning, reports Inside Higher Ed. ACT Inc. offers WorkKeys skills assessment.

Americans spend over $460 billion on higher education every year, but what are college students learning?  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is trying to develop the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes  (AHELO) to assess college students’ learning, reports Ed Week. The AHELO would be a “direct evaluation of student performance at the global level…across diverse cultures, languages and different types of institutions.”

4-year degree isn’t the only path to success

Too many Americans believe a young person who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree is a “second-class citizen,” says Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. “Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”

Vocational certificates are growing in popularity, especially those that require a semester or two of community college. “The certificate is a good choice for the low-middle of the high-school graduation class,” said Stephen Rose, a Georgetown professor.

Little college aid for job seekers

Federal college aid overwhelmingly goes to students pursuing degrees, while many seeking vocational certificates don’t qualify for aid. Taxpayers should support people who want to learn high-demand job skills — computer techs and nurse’s aides — not people who want to spend four years studying Shakespeare, argues a workforce researcher.

Students who earn credits for competency, not just “seat time,” will be eligible for federal student aid, if their college’s competency-based program is approved by accreditors.

IB adds career certificates

International Baccalaureate, known for challenging academic diplomas, will offer career certificates in subjects such as engineering, culinary arts, business and automotive technology.

 

What for-profit colleges do right

Two-year for-profit colleges do a good job graduating disadvantaged students with vocational certificates and associate degrees.

Community colleges are going online to provide job training.

Impossible dreams: Squash or support?

What should professors do when students’ goals are unrealistic? Squash their dreams? Or support the pursuit of the impossible?

As colleges collapse for lack of paying students, more young people will pursue certificates in vocational fields rather than academic degrees, a dean predicts.