Higher ed pays — for engineers, nurses

Higher education pays — for technical graduates, concludes a new study. However, “The S in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is oversold,” the report found. Biology and chemistry majors can expect to earn as little as liberal arts majors.

Would-be nurses face ‘degree creep’

Community colleges educate more than 40 percent of registered nurses but “degree creep” is making it harder for nurses with associate degrees to get clinical training and hospital jobs.

Too much Spanish = hostile environment?

An Arizona nursing student claims she was suspended for complaining that classmates disrupted classes by speaking Spanish. In her lawsuit, Terri Bennett, 50, said classmates spoke Spanish during lessons — apparently translating for non-English speakers — and primarily spoke Spanish during labs, clinicals and other activities. That made it hard for her to learn and created a “hostile environment,” she complained. In addition, the Pima Community College nursing program director called her a “bigot and a bitch,” she charged, before suspending her on charges of intimidation (arguing with an instructor about a test answer), discrimination and harassment.

Students complained that Bennett was harassing and intimidating them for having private conversations in Spanish, David Kutzler, the nursing program director, told the Daily Caller.  He denies calling Bennett a “bigot and a bitch.”

Colleges speed and ‘stack’ job training

Community colleges are accelerating job training and offering “stackable” credentials.

“Everybody wants to be a nurse,” but not everyone has the math and science skills needed, said Ana Sanchez, the “career and college navigator” at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts. In one or two semesters, students can earn a certificate as a patient care technician or medical admin. They can return to campus to add a higher-level health-care certificate or degree.

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.

After university, community college

Unemployed college graduates are heading to community colleges for associate degrees in nursing, medical technology, information technology and other high-demand fields.

In California, a record number of recent four-year graduates are working in food service, retail and clerical jobs.

Think critically about college loans

“Dream big,” Maureen O’Brien told her daughter, urging her not to settle for a low-cost state college. O’Brien borrowed $54,000 to help pay for the first two years at the University of Vermont, which costs more than $49,000 a year for out-of-state students, reports NPR. But the mother, still paying for her undergraduate degree in 1996 and $60,000 for professional training, couldn’t afford it.

Daughter Emily has transferred to Northern Arizona, where in-state tuition is low. Her brother will start at Arizona State.  The family expects to borrow another $70,000 to pay for the daughter’s last two years and the son’s four years of higher education. O’Brien now earns $93,000 as a physician’s assistant, but spends more than a third of her take-home pay on student loan payments. She has no savings and may take a second job to pay off the debts.

For a woman who says she learned critical thinking as a French and international studies major, O’Brien didn’t think critically about paying for college, writes Grace at Cost of College. and she sees troubles ahead for Emily, who’s majoring in environmental studies.

“I can’t afford to go to college, but I’m taking out loans, I’m putting my foot forward and making sure I get an education so that I can get a really good job in the long run,” Emily says.

Grace suspects environmental studies won’t lead to a “really good job.” Environmental science would  be a better bet, but it would  require more math and science courses.

Even affluent parents are becoming more pragmatic about college choices, reports the Chicago Tribune. The  story features a young woman who wanted to major in equestrian therapy because she loves horses. Ally Lincoln’s mother told her to choose nursing.

“My mother told me not to confuse a hobby with an occupation,” she said. “I was upset.”

During a college trip to Bradley University in Peoria, her mom “made” her look at the nursing school, where a tour guide rattled off a barrage of statistics, including that the median salary for a nurse is $60,000 and unemployment rate is 2 percent.

A nurse at 24, Lincoln has “a robust paycheck, benefits and a well-marked path for career advancement.” And jealous friends. She is house hunting with her fiance. Going into nursing “was one of the smartest things I ever did,” she told the Trib.

‘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.

If time is money, for-profit colleges can be cheap

As community colleges cut classes, students are turning to for-profit schools, despite the much higher costs.

Cierra Nelson spent four years trying to complete prerequisites for a nursing program at a community college in southern California. Again and again, she was turned away from science classes she needed, such as anatomy and physiology. Finally, she borrowed more than $50,000 to attend a for-profit, Everest College.

Everest has no wait lists.

Also on Community College SpotlightMississippi colleges can’t hire enough instructors to meet the demand for nursing classes.

Nursing graduates can’t find jobs

Health care is supposed to be the hot career field. But California nursing graduates are having trouble finding jobs.

A Texas business group’s billboards attack Dallas and Austin community colleges for low graduation rates.