Our higher-ed system, which puts general courses at the front end, doesn’t work for many students, writes Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior policy analyst at New America Foundation, in Rethinking the Bachelor’s Degree.
She has two nephews who weren’t academically motivated.
Allen completed a political science degree in six expensive years. He’s unemployed and living with his parents.
Jeffrey apprenticed at a restaurant while taking community college classes and works as a chef. But the pay is low and he needs a bachelor’s degree to move up to a more lucrative restaurant management job. His credits and experience don’t count toward that four-year degree.
In Washington state, Evergreen State College offers an “upside-down bachelor’s degree, with the technical education coming first, followed by two years of broader, general education,” she writes.
Other community colleges in Washington offer a bachelor’s of applied science, designed to build on a two-year technical degree, she writes. For example, the BAS in manufacturing operations at Clover Park Technical College adds business and management skills to a two-year machinery repair program.
McCarthy worries about “the notion that everyone must earn a bachelor’s degree to be successful.” Some schools are offering a bachelor’s of applied science in dental hygiene, while many dental hygienists qualify with a one-year certificate.
Nearly two-thirds of job postings for executive assistants require a bachelor’s degree, even though only a fifth of people in the job now are college graduates, reports Burning Glass Technologies.