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Do you really want a college degree?
Where are the Jobs?
Q: Why does a college education cost so much?
A: Bureaucratic bloat at the public university the number of administrative employees jumped 54 percent, almost eight times the growth of tenured and tenure-track faculty. Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring, crowding out instruction at a time of skyrocketing tuition and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans. U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993, or 10 times the rate of growth of the tenured faculty, those with permanent positions and job security, according to U.S. Education Department data.
June 6, 2011 What is a College Education Really Worth?
For the first time, a new report uses U.S. Census data to show links between specific college majors and long term wages. For example, it says that over a lifetime, Engineering majors can earn over $1,000,000 while Education majors earn over $240,000. The report also addresses racial breakdowns and gender divides in wages. To learn what people can draw from the data, host Michel Martin speaks with Anthony P. Carnevale, Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which released the report.
- 1993 - 2005
- The Washington Times, 4/29/04, Pg. A6
Public Agenda Foundation: High schoolers lacking in math, science courses.
If you wonder how information spreads to the Right, look no further than the mailing list for this article from Washington Times "reporter," George Archibald. To keep the address line small, blind copies were sent to lists of AASA state execs, NSBA state execs, the Education Writers Association, and the Education Policy fellows at Arizona State.
- 11/17/08 – Ivy League President Salaries go Sky High. Gutmann's base salary increased from $630,000 to $750,000, about 19 percent.
- 2008 Columbia University President Lee Bollinger was the Ivy League’s highest-paid president in at $1.75 million in total compensation, as 30 college leaders received more than $1 million in pay.
- 2008 Yale [Levin] salary third-highest in Ivy League
- 2011 Levin's Salary goes up to $1.63 Million
- 2013 College Adjuncts are not likely to qualify for health care. At their current low wages, they already qualify for food stamps.
- Education Inc. CEO and their Salaries
- Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education history of how this got started & the connections
- Military Industrial Educational Complex - the automation of Higher Education Wrestling the Military-Academic Complex
- The adjunctification of the professoriate in the US
GETTING THAT JOB
Do not make too much of this one article because there are many caveats, but it is such an anomaly that careful consideration must be given to it. At the least, the article powerfully suggests that humanities and social science studies in college develop habits of thinking that help a career even in a high-tech industry like AT&T. The surprising finding is that humanities and social science majors were more successful than business, science and math, and engineering majors, in that order. Humanities and social science majors were not only the most motivated but got the most promotions as well, owing, it seems, to high interpersonal and verbal skills. Ann Howard: College Experiences and Managerial Performance Journal of Applied Psychology 71n3 (1986 August): 530-552
Budget: Will you be able to cover your college or career school costs?
The New York Times wrote recently that the college degree is akin to a high school degree. Just to get a job as a file clerk or a receptionist, it reported, requires a four-year degree. When college graduates receive neither compensation nor respect, how can we encourage more young people to sacrifice to get a college diploma? What message are we sending them? Why should we aspire to be first in the world in college graduates when their prospects for employment and a livable income are so meager?
DHS bigwig 'adamantly opposed' to degree fetishism
2013 The Register DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity Mark Weatherford says HR and in-house recruitment types should get rid of the myopic idea
that to work in IT you must have been to university. Many "corporate and government jobs actually require a college degree or equivalent work experience." Many of these jobs specify that equivalent experience is acceptable in lieu of a degree. Getting organizations to understand that a college degree does != [not equal] brains could help plug holes in IT security employment. "You do not need a college degree to be successful in our business." Instead of college, these people "spent those four years breaking things and fixing things and figuring out how applications and operating systems work," Weatherford said in an earlier keynote speech at the conference. "Probably the five smartest people I know in our business have never been to college."
2013 EVEN GOOGLE doesn't need a college degree if you have the work experience.
Software Engineer: Minimum qualifications:
- BA/BS in Computer Science or closely related degree. In lieu of degree, 4 years of relevant work experience.
- 3 years of hands-on technical leadership and people management experience.
- Hands on programming capabilities in C++ and/or Java. Preferred qualifications:
- MS or PhD in Computer Science or closely related degree.
- 10 years of relevant industry experience, with at least 5 years of hands-on technical leadership and people management experience (managing teams of 8+ developers).
- Strong distributed systems and architecture knowledge and experience.
- Demonstrated expertise in problem-solving and technical innovation, capable of "rolling-up sleeves and getting hands dirty".
- Strong leader capable of motivating and energizing the very best software engineers, as well as gaining their respect.
- Experience shipping successful products.
Pennsylvania Graduate Student Sues, says C-plus cost her $1.3M February 13, 2013
Talk about grade inflation. Graduate student Megan Thode wasn't happy about the C+ she received for one class, saying the mediocre grade kept her from getting her desired degree and becoming a licensed therapist — and, as a result, cost her $1.3 million in lost earnings. Now Thode is suing her professor and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, claiming monetary damages and seeking a grade change. Lehigh and the professor contend her lawsuit is without merit.
Thode took the class in fall of 2009. Her instructor, Amanda Eckhardt, testified this week that she stood by the grade, saying Thode failed to behave professionally and thus earned zero out of 25 points in class participation, bumping her down a full letter grade. "I ... believed she received the grade she earned," Eckhardt said. The C+ prevented Thode, an otherwise A student, from going on to the next class and advancing in her professional therapist studies. She wound up getting a master's degree in human development instead.
Her attorney, Richard Orloski, argued Eckhardt targeted Thode because she is an outspoken advocate for gay marriage. Eckhardt testified that while she believes marriage is between a man and woman, she would never allow her personal views to influence her treatment of students. She said Thode had outbursts in class, did not participate appropriately, was emotionally unstable and failed to heed a warning letter.
Stephen Thode, the plaintiff's father and a longtime finance professor at Lehigh, testified on his daughter's behalf and said her participation score was highly irregular. Stephen Thode "I have never heard of a case, not just at Lehigh, where a student achieved a zero in class participation where they attended and participated in every class," he said.
College of Business and Economics Lehigh University (610) 865-4272
621 Taylor Street Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-4557 730 Barclay Drive Bethlehem, PA 18017
"An Empirical Examination of Corporate Earnings, Public Information and Market Efficiency" Dissertation
Judge Emil Giordano is presiding over the nonjury trial and will issue a ruling on Thode's lawsuit after testimony concludes. The hearing is in case
Northampton County Court.
Higher Education’s Darkest Secret
In this op-ed, the president of New Faculty Majority reveals just how poorly adjunct professors are paid and treated across the country.
"Professional Staff" Making under $25K per year she knew there was no way she—or any of her colleagues — could take on yet another class. Better to cancel the class, she suggested to the dean, than to give students a teacher who cannot serve her students. The dean nodded gravely and said with some urgency, "But we don't want to cancel the class. Really, all we need is a warm body in the classroom." The dean's words reflect a grossly utilitarian managerial approach now common in higher education, one that is not well known to the public.
College Student Debt Grows. Is It Worth It?
Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit card debt. Estimates show students graduating this year with about $27,000 in debt. "It's smart if it's enabling you to invest in your future," Kantrowitz tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "But if you borrow more than your expected starting salary after you graduate, you're going to struggle to pay your loans." If you're going to borrow $10,000 a year for four years, you should hope that the field you've chosen has a starting salary of at least $40,000. If you are going to be borrowing more than that, he suggests looking for a less expensive school. "Before you spend student loan money on anything, ask yourself if you would still pay for it at twice the price. Because by the time you've paid back that student loan, it's probably going to cost you about $2 for every dollar you've borrowed." This year 2011 student debt will be about $27,000. And if you throw parents' loans into the mix, the average is going to be more like $34,000.
Rough Salary Expectations
2012 More than 500 colleges and universities, enrolling over 2.5 million undergraduate students (13% of all undergraduate students), have committed to adopting the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet collegecost.ed.gov/) during the 2013-14 academic year ed.gov
2013 How Foreign Students Hurt U.S. Innovation http://bloom.bg/XxQlfx
In the old days, the U.S. program for foreign-student visas helped developing nations and brought diversity to then white-bread American campuses. Today, the F-1 program, as it is known, has become a profit center for universities and a wage-suppression tool for the technology industry. International students are attractive to strapped colleges because they tend to pay full tuition or, in the case of public institutions, pay more than full price in out-of-state rates.
Last year, this was taken to a new level at California State University, East Bay, a public institution just south of Oakland. The school directed its master’s degree programs to admit only non-California students, including foreign students. Even before this edict, international students made up 90 percent of its computer-science master’s program.
FORGIVE STUDENT LOAN DEBT
On the hook for Student Loans even when dead.
Reynoso and his lawyer don’t even know exactly how much he now owes, but it appears to be well into the six figures. The loan that Bank of America originated is clear: At the end of March, the balance was around $7,400, according to Mike Reiber, a spokesman for PHEAA, a company that once serviced that loan. (With the loan in default, it now resides with First Marblehead, Reiber said.) But the other, much larger portion of Reynoso’s debt remains murky. A 2009 lending disclosure document indicates that through Education Finance Partners, UBS extended nearly $160,000 in credit to Freddy Reynoso, and projected that if he made all payments as scheduled, the loan for his music education would end up costing him $279,000. Seemingly the only party who knows — and is obligated to tell Reynoso — about this debt is the servicer, ACS Education Services. ACS is a subsidiary of Xerox. Even with the help of a lawyer, Reynoso’s options are limited. Unlike most kinds of debt, private student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy but a narrow provision in the bankruptcy code called a hardship discharge.
By law, debt collectors must go through a debtor’s attorney if one has been hired. Despite the help of a lawyer, he has not been able to determine exactly how much he owes, or even what company holds his loans.
WellsFargo December 17, 2010 As part of ongoing enhancements in the area of education financing, Wells Fargo announced today a more formalized program around forgiveness of student loans in the event of a student beneficiary’s death or permanent disability.
http://studentaid.ed.gov: Student Ed / Gov
It's possible to have your student loan debt discharged (canceled) or reduced, but only under certain specific circumstances: You die or become totally and permanently disabled.
PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS
Help public servants -- including teachers, nurses, and veterans -- take advantage of
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
PSLF cancels the balance of a borrower’s federal student loan debt after he or she has served full-time in a public service role for 10 years, while making on-time qualifying loan payments each month. Among the new materials is an employment certification form that allows borrowers to keep track of eligible employment and payments. Also, the new materials allow borrowers to find out, today, if their job and loan payments will qualify them for loan forgiveness in the future, as well as how many payments they have left to submit.
The purpose of a university is to create "a habit of mind," that lasts through life. THAT is indeed what it is all about, creating a habit of mind.
"The university as a place where a student "apprehends the great outlines of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shades, its great points, and its little, as he otherwise cannot apprehend them. Hence, it is that his education is called "Liberal." A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitablenesss, calmness, moderation, and wisdom." ~ John Henry Newman
Publications from the U.S. Government
Students at Sam Houston State University are not alone in their inability to manage their finances: The national statistics are sobering. The average score on a financial literacy test administered to college students by the Jump$tart Coalition in 2008 was only 60 percent. And the coalition's research indicates that almost 40 percent of students who drop out of college do so for financial reasons.
Students who do persist to graduation are leaving school with an average of more than $4,100 in credit card debt (Sallie Mae, 2009). In addition, the Project on Student Debt reports average student loan debt among students who borrow for their education is $24,000, up 38 percent since 2000 (The Project on Student Debt, October 2010).
Tools and Resources from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency January / February 2012
The death of the lecture hall.
Today's universities become largely "outsourced" corporate R&D centers, like Hennessy's Stanford
Will State Colleges Become Federal Universities? http://ow.ly/fF3u3
2012 The Campus Tsunami
Online education is not new. The University of Phoenix started its online degree program in 1989. Four million college students took at least one online class during the fall of 2007 . . .
What happens to the 30 (or 50 or 70%) of the population who don't quite "go to college" this way? Vocational training? But for what? Modern manufacturing is highly automated, so there are fewer and fewer "factory" jobs.
Michael Vlahos, then Senior Fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the think-tank that brought us Newt Gingrich and also the PFF "Aspen Summit" where the "digerati" converged starting in 1995.
Vlahos, after trade-marking the term "Byte City," wrote an PFF White Paper "ByteCity -or- Life After the Big Change," which then morphed into an article in Washington Quarterly and then a DoD "information age" essay "The War After Byte City." A book was in the works -- however it never appeared and the original essay is not longer online. Vlahos segmented the USA of 2020 in to 5% "Brain Lords," 20% "Upper Servers and Agents," 50% "Service Workers," and 25% "The Lost."
College Is Dead. Long Live College!
Can a new breed of online megacourses finally offer a college education to more people for less money?
"The published price of college continued to climb in 2010 - 11, according to "Trends in College Pricing 2010," the newest installment in a series of annual reports issued by the College Board. To explore tuition trends at a particular college or university, start by choosing an institution type and a state, and then select an institution. You will then be able to compare its tuition and fees with those at other institutions, stretching back to 1999."
2010 The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/education/23college.html
Higher education in the USA today is one of our most important *industrial* activities and an key part of our *export* economy. In these "factories," we are producing the next generation elites for the rest of the world.
Whether you call the US situation "post-industrial" or just call us the leader in the "information age," our schools have already turned into businesses and their best customers are the children of the Asian, African and South American elites -- who pay full-fare (i.e. not taking out student loans) and therefore know that they must actually get value-for-their-money.
The biggest contribution that the US is making today to its competitors worldwide is the college education we are providing to the sons of daughters of the leaders of the rest of the world.
- Degrees are being awarded to overseas students who speak almost no English, claims a whistleblowing academic. 2
- 49 Chinese students Forged document students expelled 3
- Cheating is pervasive in China, driven by hyper-competitive parents and aggressive agents.
- Our research indicates that 90% of recommendation letters are fake, 70% of essays are not written by the applicant, and 50% of high school transcripts are falsified.
- Chinese applicants typically cheat in 5 major categories: recommendation letters, essays, high school transcripts, financial aid applications, and awards.
- American programs have 6 ways to fight back: hire a "covert" admissions staffer from mainland China, interview all attractive applicants from China, consider "spot tests" of English, request official transcripts directly (or simply ignore them), hire a Chinese lawyer to verify financial need, and develop a policy on exposing fraud publicly. 1
Former Microsoft China President Admits To Buying PhD Degree. The former President of Microsoft China, Tang Jun, had been accused of falsifying his academic credentials, such as his PhD from Caltech and PhD from Pacific Western University. At the time, he threatened to sue his accuser for libel. Media says Tang Jun admits to spending 3000 USD to purchase doctorate degree. In 2010 July, science writer Fang Zhouzi accused Xin Hua Du Industrial Group CEO Tang Jun of academic fraud. Tang Jun disclosed that he spent over 3000 USD to get his Pacific Western University doctorate degree. With regards to this, Fang Zhouzi expressed on his microblog, "Tang Jun is once again telling stories".
The Chronicle of Higher Education: "The portrait that emerges is of a culture that's insanely obsessed with pedigree" Its story highlights this quote from a hiring manager at a top investment bank: If someone from Rutgers, for example, sends a resumé, “I'm just being really honest, it pretty much goes into a black hole.” NY Times story about whether it's worth the extra dough to go to an expensive, elite school. Do grads from such joints make more money post-graduation than if they'd gone to less-selective institutions?
Does Everyone Need College
Does A Higher Ed Degree Get You That Job?
How Foxconn's Million-Machine 'Robot Kingdom' Will Change the Face of Manufacturing. The world is on track to reach 1.3 million operating industrial robots by 2014. That means that if Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., reaches its goals, it would effectively double the number of industrial robots worldwide. Unsurprisingly, many of China's newly-educated young people don't want jobs like these, which brings us to Foxconn's second problem: China's industrial sector faces the vexing problems of both rising labor costs and a labor shortage.Talk about pushing automation; China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reports that Foxconn is looking to produce 300,000 robots by next year and one million in the next three years. The industrial robots will perform simple tasks such as spraying and assembly. If all goes according to plan, an estimated 500,000 of Foxcon's 1.2 million jobs will be obsolete. In September, Slate's Farhad Manjoo ran a series about how robots were poised to one day take over white collar jobs in the fields of law, medicine and media. For blue collar workers, that day is already here. The barrier to robots taking over jobs in medicine is, at this point, technological; the barrier to robots taking over factory jobs is a matter of simple economics. It's still cheaper for a factory owner in Vietnam to pay human workers $85 a month than it is to install industrial robots.
Educrats chasing slave labor around the world so who needs training when there are no jobs, right?
- Student Loans: The Next Bubble?
- THE REAL COST OF COLLEGE
- Is A College Education Worth The Debt?
- Best Colleges in the World
- MITx And The Changing Higher Education Game
The Elite Admissions Game.
FIND AN ACCREDITED COLLEGE
- U.S. Department of Education's College Search page off-site link
- Enter in the name of the online school you would like to research. You do not need to enter information in any other field. Hit "search."
- You will be shown a school or several schools that match your search criteria. Click on the school you are looking for.
- The selected school's accreditation information will appear. Make sure this page is about the correct school by comparing the website, phone number, and address information you see at the top right with the information you already have.
- You can view the college's institutional accreditation (for the whole school) or specialized accreditation (for departments within the school) on this page. Click on any accrediting agency for more information.
Note: You may also use the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's website to search for both CHEA and USDE recognized accreditors (off-site link) or to view a chart comparing CHEA and USDE recognition (off-site PDF chart).
Who's Your Daddy?
Thiel - the bubble that has taken the place of housing is the higher education bubble. “A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It's like telling the world there's no Santa Claus.”
The plethora of state standards and topics and plus different exams offered by our high schools makes the system not too different from stock exchange trading. The State Department of Education 's grade market is a land of unlimited opportunities. Like agile investors, the students and their parents, sometimes with the assistance of teachers, select the subjects that will give them maximum return on minimal effort. There is an incredible supply of marginal subjects, offering high marks and certificates of excellence at bargain prices. You can take classes in Chinese an do it in extracurricular courses, not as a substitute for regular structured studies, and certainly not as a substitute for proper teaching of reading and expression in English It does not make much sense for high school graduates to know a few words in Chinese, but still remain ignorant of science and mathematics, history and civics. Many have learned firsthand from the stock market or the real estate market, economic bubbles work fine for everyone, until the inevitable moment of encounter with reality. These happy students usually meet with the bitter reality on international tests, upon entering universities and at competitions with their peers worldwide. The bad news is that Americais losing its international status as a scientific superpower.
Who's Your Daddy
HOW TO GET INTO COLLEGE
How the Rich get the money to go to College and the Poor Don't. Elite schools make room for average students who happen to be rich.
September 11, 2006 SOURCE
If you or your child is applying to a selective college this year, here's a reading assignment: Pick up a copy of The Price of Admission , a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden.
It'll either give you a useful view into how the elite admissions game works or just leave you disgusted about the whole enterprise. Actually, probably both. Mr. Golden's subject is the root unfairness in the way elite colleges choose who wins the coveted spots in their freshman classes. Some folks complain about admissions policies that favor minority students. But Mr. Golden shows the degree to which the bias actually moves in the opposite direction: toward children of privilege. We all know wealthy kids have enormous advantages not available to others. Their parents can afford score-boosting SAT prep classes and private school tuition. They can give their children an upbringing that provides endless educational opportunities. Those can all give the rich an edge. But I'm not talking about those kids – the ones who, even considering their privileges, earn their spots. I'm talking about kids who aren't remarkably bright but still get into top colleges because of who their daddy is.
The most obvious way that's done is by legacy preference, the edge that colleges give to the children of their alumni. It's probably the most effective way colleges encourage – some might say extort – donations from their former students. For instance, at Harvard the admissions rate for legacies is four times the rate for the hoi polloi. Is it because those kids are unusually smart? Nope – they actually have lower average SAT scores than other admitted students.
Mr. Golden, himself a Harvard alum, details the ways colleges chase after the children of the rich and powerful, like paparazzi pursuing Paris Hilton. He shows how Al Gore's son earned a questionable admission to Harvard, and how presidential niece Lauren Bush got into Princeton despite below-average SAT scores, mediocre grades at her Houston prep school and not bothering to apply until a month after the deadline. I'd like to see a working-class kid from South Dallas try that trick.
Actually, North Texas, home to more than its fair share of rich folks, shows up a few times in Mr. Golden's narrative. Members of Fort Worth's Bass family have given tens of millions to their alma maters, and that's helped when it comes time for their children to apply. Mr. Golden reports that one Bass daughter got into Stanford despite being in the middle of her own high school class and having an SAT score that ranked her deep in the bottom quartile of Stanford freshmen. Targeted the wealthy parents of Dallas prep schools because the university was looking for rich families to turn into donors, no matter how mediocre their kids' academic records were. "We really worked Dallas," a former Duke associate director of admissions told Mr. Golden. It was all part of Duke's hunt for members of the "socioeconomically high-end."
"Top colleges also say the obsession with feeder schools has become both excessive and misguided. "We admit students, not schools," says William Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions and financial aid. "We are looking for the best people we can get." ~ PRICE OF ADMISSION
And for the rich legacies who still can't sneak into a school, there's often a back door. Harvard, for instance, maintains something called the "Z-list" for students who can't survive the normal admissions process.
They're told they can enroll if they just wait a year. Not so coincidentally, about three-quarters of the students on the Z-list are legacies. If this seems like a personal issue to me, it's probably because it is.
I went to Yale. Some might call that casting against type. I grew up in a poor small town in south Louisiana. No one in my family had ever been to college, and most hadn't graduated from high school. It took $100,000 in grants, $16,000 in student loans, and a couple campus jobs to make Yale affordable. I knew some of the people Mr. Golden is talking about. The prep-school kids with B-minus minds. The ones whose last names were on campus buildings. They were a small minority of the student body, most of which was awe-inspiring. But there were some I couldn't stop comparing to the brilliant kids who I knew had gotten rejection letters.
I enjoyed my time at Yale, and I wouldn't mind if my kid went there someday. But Yale, with its endowment of $15 billion, doesn't need my money. It's depressing how many of my classmates preach the need to donate cash – not out of affection for their alma mater, but solely so they can be labeled a "productive alum" and someday get their own kids into Yale.
Is any of this really surprising? I mean, isn't it a given that connections matter, that a kid whose last name is Bush, Bass or Kennedy is going to have an edge? I suppose. But America's elite colleges make such a fuss about their high-minded meritocracy that it's disgusting to see them dance like eager courtiers.
The American model is supposed to promote social mobility, not an inherited aristocracy. College admissions is a zero-sum game. For every C-student rich kid who gets into Harvard, there's a far more qualified middle-class kid who gets stuck with his safety school. And those spots in the freshman class are more sought after than ever. When I applied to Yale in 1993, the university admitted 19 percent of all applicants. Today, it's closer to 9 percent. Elite schools, including Yale and Harvard, have made efforts in the last few years to increase the number of low-income students they attract – mostly by offering more generous financial aid packages. But as long as they keep holding the door open for the middling children of aristocrats, they'll be blocking the path for everyone else.
Richer Students Receive Much More Merit-Based Aid Than Do Poorer Ones, Study Finds
Merit scholarships are disproportionately awarded to students from high-income families, and the percentage of merit aid colleges give out, compared to need-based aid, has increased significantly since 1994, according to report scheduled for release today.
From 1994 to 2004, students from families in the top-income quartile ($111,170 or higher annually) received three times as much merit aid as students in the lowest income quartile ($37,745 or less). Families in the lowest quartile spend 58% of their income on the net price of college, compared with 12% of income for families in the highest income group, according to the report, which was issued by Eduventures, an education-consulting company.
During the same 10-year span, the proportion of merit aid to total grant aid distributed increased from 6% to 16 %. The total amount of financial aid awarded from federal, state, and institutional grants reached $39-billion in 2004, compared with a total of $7-billion in merit aid.
The distribution of need-based and merit aid varied depending on the type of institution. Public institutions that cost $16,819 to $28,828 a year had the smallest difference between their tuition discounts for merit compared with need. Private institutions that cost more than $28,828 provided the highest proportion of need-based aid, and used merit aid only sparingly, according to the study.
Other findings in the report reinforce the assumption that the "line is blurring" between need-based and non-need-based aid. As students' SAT scores rise, so do their awards of need-based aid. Students in the lowest income quartile who scored at or below 1140 on the SAT received, on average, $8,403 in financial aid, while the mean award for students with the same family income who scored at or above 1261 was $10,820.
The data suggest, according to the report, that "need-based awards may be used, in part, as a recruiting mechanism to attract students of relatively higher academic profiles."
Differences in merit aid are particularly striking between students who scored very high on the SAT and those who got a perfect or almost-perfect score. The average merit-based award for students who earned a 1560 was $7,500, compared with a mean award in excess of $20,000 for students who scored above that.
At Private Colleges, Share of Aid to Wealthy Families Rose in 1990s
Students from wealthy families received much more financial aid from private colleges in 2000 than they did in 1993, according to a policy paper that was posted on the Web site of Education Sector, a new, Washington-based research group. The aid offered to students from low-income families remained relatively stagnant, the paper says.
Mr. Carey said he worried that some colleges had become dependent on using merit-aid grants as they engaged in bidding wars for affluent, high-achieving students, whose presence raises colleges' standing in popular magazine rankings. In so doing, he said, colleges are failing to use their financial-aid resources in ways that would maximize access for low-income students. Mr. Carey's policy brief is based on data from a table in the federal report, "The Condition of Education 2004," from the National Center for Education Statistics.
According to the federal data, wealthy students gained both relatively and in absolute terms from 1993 to 2000. (The figures apply only to four-year, nonprofit private colleges, and only to financial aid offered by the colleges themselves. They do not include student loans or grants provided by the federal government.)
In 1993 only 35 % of the wealthy students at four-year private institutions in the United States -- "wealthy" meaning students whose parents' income was in the highest quartile -- received financial-aid packages from their colleges. By 2000 that proportion had risen to 51.2 percent.
The proportion of low-income students who received aid -- "low income" meaning students whose parents' income was in the lowest quartile -- increased much more slowly over the same period, from 52.8 percent to 55.7 percent.
In 1993 the average size of an institutional grant was the same for both low-income and high-income students: $5,500. But in 2000 the average grant given to high-income students was $6,800, while that given to low-income students was $6,200. (All figures are adjusted for inflation.)
When Martin Quiñones was starting high school, he and his parents looked at several Boston-area private schools before settling on Phillips Academy. It was one of the most expensive schools they considered, with annual tuition of $23,400, not including room, board and other fees. But with Martin's sights on getting into a top college, his family figured it was worth it.
They're about to find out if they were right. This weekend, the coveted fat envelopes -- and the dreaded thin ones -- for Ivy-League and other top universities are in the mail. Thousands of families across America are anxiously waiting to learn whether their huge investments in private education -- or moves to expensive neighborhoods with good public schools -- have paid off with acceptances to elite colleges. Martin Quiñones hopes for a nod from Harvard and other big names, and his family has made sacrifices to pay for his high-school education, such as driving older cars and taking fewer vacations, with that goal in mind. "If you go cheap, you're not going to get what you're hoping for -- an Ivy-class school," says Martin's father, Ricardo Quiñones, a computer consultant in Gloucester, Mass.
For families dreaming of sending their children to a prestigious university, the stakes have never been higher. Competition has intensified as the kids of baby boomers reach college age, and tuition at private schools -- believed by many parents to be the best insurance for college admission -- is soaring to record levels. Now, tuition of $20,000 a year is routine, with several of the best-known private schools topping $25,000. But do the most expensive schools really offer more bang for the buck than cheaper competitors? And just how do these pricey schools compare with highly successful public high schools?
Curious about the link between money and admissions success, Weekend Journal studied this year's freshman classes at 10 of the nation's most exclusive colleges -- including Harvard and other Ivies, and places like the University of Chicago and Pomona. We tracked down the alma maters of each entering student -- some 11,000 kids in all -- and came up with a list of high schools that had graduating classes of at least 50 students and sent at least 20 of them to our chosen colleges. For each high school, we then calculated what percentage of its graduates went on to those colleges. Finally, we compared tuition costs.
Though all the high schools in our survey have outstanding reputations, the success rates at some were astonishing. The best-performing high school on our list sent a staggering 41% of its senior class to our 10 colleges -- 30 kids out of a class of 74. (Hint: It's the private school where Academy Award-winner Jennifer Connelly went.) And that high school wasn't nearly the most expensive on our list.
Indeed, among private high schools, Weekend Journal found some surprising bargains. Germantown Friends School, (where Bradley Cooper went) a Philadelphia Quaker institution dating back to 1845, charges $16,675 in base tuition (plus an estimated $675 more for books and senior fees). But it did even better in our review than Buckingham Browne & Nichols of Cambridge, Mass., where tuition runs nearly $8,000 higher. Determining tuition requires a balance, says Richard Wade, head of school at Germantown Friends, who adds that schools "struggle not just with what parents can afford, but also what teachers can afford to live on." In the case of Germantown, the school made a decision in the 1970s to increase the number of students per classroom (the average is now about 18) in order to raise faculty salaries while keeping tuition down. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have money in the bank: Germantown has an endowment totaling $27 million.
Costs Add Up
At Buckingham Browne & Nichols, spokesman Woodie Haskins says the school's tuition in part reflects its expensive region, and the need to keep faculty salaries competitive. "The cost of living in the Northeast is certainly high," Mr. Haskins says. In addition, he says, the school's endowment is less than some of its competitors, since the school -- founded in 1974 after a merger of two other schools -- is younger than some of those competitors. Finally, he says, the cost of running Buckingham's three campuses adds up, including such expenses as utilities and shuttle buses between locations.
Public schools obviously offer the better bang for the buck -- assuming you don't count the high housing costs generally associated with better-performing districts.
But in our survey, public schools were in the distinct minority, with the best-performing school sending fewer than a third of its graduates to our choice colleges. And a number of the better-performing public schools were small, highly selective "magnet" schools, meaning that students whose families live and pay taxes in the area don't necessarily get to attend. For example, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Alexandria, Va., last year sent 10 graduates to Harvard alone.
Thomas Jefferson, which had a graduating class of 401 last year, draws students from five counties and two cities in Northern Virginia, based on their performance on aptitude tests covering both mathematics and verbal skills. The high school has seven full-time guidance counselors, who are assigned to students when they enter as freshmen and stay with them for all four years of high school. Besides Ivy League colleges and the University of Virginia, engineering schools like Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology are popular with students, says Nina Pitkin, who oversees the guidance program. "We're encouraging students to broaden their search," she says.
For parents, the calculus can be complicated. A few years ago, when financial analyst Bruce Marsden was transferred by his company to New Jersey from California, he and his wife, Leslie, spent months looking at public and private high schools in their new state before buying a house. They scoured school rankings, interviewed principals and compared SAT scores and advanced-placement class offerings. They looked at highly regarded private schools like Pingry School in Martinsville, N.J., and nearby Newark Academy, and tried to assess the schools' college-placement records.
Ultimately the family chose a public school, Millburn High School, even though they figured houses in the district cost 40% more at the time than similar homes in neighboring suburbs. "Twenty thousand seemed like a heck of a lot of money to pay for high school," says Leslie Marsden. Already, their gamble seems to have paid off: Yale accepted the Marsdens' daughter, Jessica, during the "early action" process in December. (Other Yale hopefuls were able to log on to the college's Web site beginning last night to learn their fates; Yale also mailed out letters yesterday. Online notification by colleges is increasingly common.)
Millburn High School did well in the Weekend Journal survey too. Of its graduating class of 245 last year, 32 kids -- or 13% -- went to our college picks, including six to Princeton, three to the University of Chicago and two each to Brown and Dartmouth.
Extra Fees The cost of a private education has soared to unprecedented levels. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the average tuition at private schools increased an inflation-adjusted 4.2% for the academic year 2003-2004, to $16,298. That's up more than a third from a decade ago (also inflation-adjusted). And tuition figures don't tell the entire financial story. Nearly all private schools charge some variety of extra fee, whether it's for books, meals, laboratory materials or even mandatory laptop computers. These inevitably add more to parents' bills -- sometimes a lot more. At New York's Trinity School, for instance, parents paying $23,475 in tuition can expect to spend about $1,250 in fees for meals, parent-association dues and other services.
The schools attribute the rise in prices to efforts to raise teachers' salaries and other improvements. Many schools say they spend huge resources on the college-guidance process, from hiring more counselors to organizing college tours.
For example, Saint Ann's School of Brooklyn, N.Y., the school with the greatest success rate on the Weekend Journal list, says its annual tuition of $20,500 is justified in part by the personalized effort the school makes to help each student get into the best possible college. HOW CONNECTED IS YOUR HEADMASTER? Headmaster Stanley Bosworth says he writes a "personal statement" for each of Saint Ann's graduating seniors -- who numbered 74 last year -- sometimes mailing the letter separately to college admissions officers and sometimes including it in the students' applications. Mr. Bosworth says he sometimes telephones academic departments and even individual professors at certain universities, rather than leaving matters to the admissions office, to call attention to standout students. He has even been known to fly to an out-of-state college to deliver a student's portfolio of artwork or tapes of musical performances. Though originally started as part of an Episcopal church, the school is now secular.
"Nothing is a lot of money if you're educating a child," says the 76-year-old Mr. Bosworth, who is retiring at the end of this school year.
Heavy on Ivies
No approach to ranking schools is perfect, of course. In setting up this study, Weekend Journal picked as our 10 colleges a group that included but wasn't limited to the Ivy League. Based on recommendations from admissions experts and guidance counselors, plus lists of SAT scores and acceptance rates, we narrowed our choices to seven Ivies -- Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and Brown -- supplemented by three of the most exclusive colleges in the West, Midwest and South. These were Pomona, the University of Chicago, and Duke. (We were unable to get data from an eighth Ivy, Columbia University, or from one of the most exclusive colleges on the West Coast, Stanford University. However, Pomona also has impressive selectivity rates and SAT scores.)
For matriculation data from the high-school class of 2003, we relied on college face books and interviews with colleges and high schools. However, a handful of high schools didn't return our calls or wouldn't confirm our numbers. Our decision to include only schools that sent 20 or more students to our choice colleges was made to help the survey be more manageable.
As an additional check, we compiled the admissions data for three prestigious small colleges across the country, Williams, Amherst and CalTech, to see if our survey results would change significantly with those schools included. They didn't.
Our numbers thresholds, to be sure, excluded some small schools that had an extremely high admissions success rate. For example, New York's Collegiate School -- which John F. Kennedy Jr. once attended -- fell just below our minimum class-size requirement, with a graduating class last year of 49 students. However, a whopping 25 of them, or 51%, went to our college picks; that would have made it No. 1 in our study. Among the other elite schools with famous names that fell below our class-size cutoff were Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Mass., and Nightingale-Bamford and Brearley in New York. All had impressive acceptance rates that would have put them high in our rankings. Notably, Roxbury Latin, with tuition of $15,200, is also an exceptional deal among private schools. Its 40% acceptance rate was almost as high as Saint Ann's.
Then again, it's important to remember that a secondary-school education shouldn't just be judged on whether it gets you to the gates of Harvard Yard. Even as high schools tout their admissions successes, they also emphasize to parents that the name at the top of the diploma can never be a guarantee of entry to a top college. For their part, A-list colleges say they pick students based on individual merit, and they say they don't give preference to particular alma maters.
Top colleges also say the obsession with feeder schools has become both excessive and misguided. "We admit students, not schools," says William Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions and financial aid. "We are looking for the best people we can get."
New Evidence That College is a Risky Investment By Richard Vedder 1/10/ 2011
Many published studies argue that higher education as a private investment yields a high rate of return--10 percent is a commonly cited figure. It is argued that you can do much better investing in higher education than in, say, real estate, stocks, or bonds. I have always been very skeptical of these studies, and two new papers support my view.
I have been saying for years that there is a huge risk that new college entrants will drop out, and that published academic studies usually implicitly look at those who graduate, ignoring a roughly equal number who fail to graduate from college in a timely manner. That is the huge flaw in the Does College Pay? studies annually produced by Sandy Baum for the College Board.
Now two studies, both presented at the American Economic Association meetings in Denver last week, make the same point. In "College Risk and Return," Gonzalo Castex suggests a large part of the extraordinary (above normal) returns of college are explainable by the compensation needed for risk-averse persons to take the risks of going to college--the risk they might not make it through. Roughly the same thing is argued, albeit a bit differently, by Kartik Athreya and Janice Eberly in "The Education Risk Premium."
When the return on something is high, investors flock to it, eventually reducing the return to a more "normal" return. Thus when Apple seemed to be making millions of new profits from the hugely popular iPad, dozens of imitators appeared with tablet devices--within months. But seemingly that phenomenon has not happened in higher education--enrollments have risen, but rather sluggishly, and not enough, it would seem, to increase the supply of college graduates enough to depress their average wage and thus the return on college investments.
The reason is that in some risk-adjusted sense, the return to higher education is NOT that unusually high, since the risks associated with "buying" an education are actually greater than buying, say, stock in Procter & Gamble: The probability of essentially losing the investment (by failure to graduate) is greater in higher education than in blue-chip stocks or certainly bonds.
Other evidence suggests that we may be entering an age where the risk-adjusted return on higher education, actually near that of other investments in the past, may be falling below the gains from these alternative opportunities. Tuition fees continue to rise sharply relative to the incomes of college graduates. More college graduates are taking low-paying jobs, say as waiters or cashiers in stores.
As former Spellings Commission chair Charles Miller reminded me the other day, if we reduce the price of higher education through productivity-enhancing changes in higher education, the rate of return will rise. Lower-than-normal returns in higher education can be remedied two ways: by reducing costs (and thus the size of the investment) or by increasing the wage premium associated with college by restricting the supply of growth of new college graduates. Or both.
Trust Us' Won't Cut It Anymore By Kevin Carey http://chronicle.com/ January 18, 2011
That's the only answer colleges ever provide when asked how much their students learn.
Sure, they acknowledge, it's hard for students to find out what material individual courses will cover. So most students choose their courses based on a paragraph in the catalog and whatever secondhand information they can gather. No, there's isn't an independent evaluation process. No standardized tests, no external audits, no publicly available learning evidence of any kind. Yes, there's been grade inflation. A-minus is the new C. Granted, faculty have every incentive to neglect their teaching duties while chasing tenure--if they're lucky enough to be in the chase at all. Meanwhile the steady adjunctification of the professoriate proceeds.
Still, "trust us," they say: Everyone who walks across our graduation stage has completed a rigorous course of study. We don't need to systematically evaluate student learning. Indeed, that would violate the academic freedom of our highly trained faculty, each of whom embodies the proud scholarly traditions of this venerable institution.
Now we know that those are lies.
Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, recently completed a study of how much 2,300 statistically representative undergraduates--who enrolled as freshmen in a diverse group of 24 colleges and universities in 2005--had learned by the time they (in theory) were ready to graduate, in 2009. As a measuring tool, the researchers used the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a respected test of analytic reasoning, critical thinking, and written communication skills. Their findings were published this month in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press) and in an accompanying white paper. It is, remarkably, the first study of its kind.
Their finding? Forty-five percent of students made no gains on the CLA during their first two years in college. Thirty-six percent made no gains over the entire four years. They learned nothing. On average, students improved by less than half a standard deviation in four years. "American higher education," the researchers found, "is characterized by limited or no learning for a large proportion of students."
The results for black students were particularly sobering. It turns out that the racial achievement gaps that shock the conscience in K-12 education get worse when students go to college. Those who see affirmative action as the defining issue for minority-student opportunity should look again. The biggest injustice falls on the majority of black students, who attend nonselective colleges--and thus don't engage with affirmative action--and all too often fail to learn.
Critics like Charles Murray will probably say those students should not have gone to college in the first place. But that would amount to condemning them for the failures of their institutions, because the study found that how much students learn has a lot do with how much colleges ask them to work. After controlling for demographics, parental education, SAT scores, and myriad other factors, students who were assigned more books to read and more papers to write learned more. Students who spent more hours studying alone learned more. Students taught by approachable faculty who enforced high expectations learned more. "What students do in higher education matters," the authors note. "But what faculty members do matters too."
The study also found significant differences by field of study. Students majoring in the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and math--again, controlling for their background--did relatively well. Students majoring in business, education, and social work did not. Our future teachers aren't learning much in college, apparently, which goes a long way toward explaining why students arrive in college unprepared in the first place.
Financial aid also matters. The study found that students whose financial aid came primarily in the form of grants learned more than those who were paying mostly with loans. Debt burdens can be psychological and temporal as well as financial, with students substituting work for education in order to manage their future obligations. Learning was also negatively correlated with--surprise--time spent in fraternities and sororities.
Some will question whether learning can be fairly measured with a standardized test. But the Collegiate Learning Assessment has been validated by numerous independent studies. The fact that the results are sensitive to academic and curricular rigor tells us that the instrument measures more than just innate aptitude. Students who are asked to work harder learn more than similar students who are not.
Others might argue that students gain specific knowledge in the disciplines not picked up by the CLA. But as college leaders constantly emphasize, the most important part of higher education is learning how to think, not accumulating facts and figures. In any event, I'm sure those who disagree with Academically Adrift's findings will provide counterevidence that meets the high standards of scholarship and empiricism embodied by their own institutions of higher learning.
The study makes clear that there are two kinds of college students in America. A minority of them start with a good high-school education and attend colleges that challenge them with hard work. They learn some things worth knowing. The rest--most college students--start underprepared, and go to colleges that ask little of them and provide little in return. Their learning gains are minimal or nonexistent. Among them, those with a reasonable facility for getting out of bed in the morning and navigating a bureaucracy receive a credential that falsely certifies learning. Others don't get even that.
Consider too that the study measured the growth of only those students who were still in college two and four years later. The all-too-common dropouts weren't included. It's a fair bet their results were even worse.
Who is hurt the most by all this? Students saddled with thousands of dollars in debt and no valuable skills, certainly. Even worse, workers who never went to college in the first place, languishing in their careers for lack of a college credential. To them, the higher-education system must seem like a gigantic confidence game, with students and colleges conspiring to produce hollow degrees that nonetheless define the boundaries of opportunity.
This study should be a wake-up call for the Obama administration. The president's goal of substantially increasing college completion by 2020 is admirable. But the students on the margins of college completion are much more likely to fall into the danger zone of poor preparation, low admissions selectivity, and lack of academic rigor. New federal policies need to ensure that they don't just earn a degree, but actually learn something along the way.
Fortunately, the way forward is clear. The students who learned the most in the study came from all manner of academic backgrounds. Nobody is doomed to failure. Colleges can start by renewing their commitment to the liberal arts. Let's be honest--a lot of students are majoring in business simply because they plan to get jobs in businesses and need a degree of some kind to do it. Making college less vocational will actually help more students learn the skills they need to succeed in their careers.
The study suggests that we have overcomplicated the practice of higher education. It comes down to what it always has--deep engagement with complex ideas and texts, difficult and often solitary study, the discipline to write, revise, and write again. What students need most aren't additional social opportunities and elaborate services. They need professors who assign a lot of reading and writing. Professors, in turn, need a structure of compensation and prestige that rewards a commitment to teaching. Some object that today's hedonist undergraduates won't do the work. But the research suggests otherwise. Colleges are responsible for taking the first step toward reaching a newer, higher equilibrium of mutual expectations.
Federal and state lawmakers should stop providing hundreds of billions of dollars in annual subsidies based purely on enrollment, and should start holding colleges accountable for learning. Lawmakers also need to shore up crumbling budgets, restrain college prices, and mitigate higher education's growing dependence on debt.
Deep down, everyone knows that learning has long been neglected. But they don't want to know. Policy makers who have poured gigantic sums of money into financial-aid programs designed to get people into college don't want to know that many of the graduates, leaving with degrees in hand, didn't learn anything. College presidents don't want to know, because fixing the problem means arguing with faculty. Faculty don't want to know, because it would expose the weakness of their teaching and take time from research. Students don't want to know, because they'd have to work harder, and it would undermine the value of their credentials. It has been a conspiracy of convenience. This study should bring the "trust us" era of American higher education to a close. Kevin Carey is policy director of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington.
Doctoral degrees: The disposable academic
Dec 16th 2010
ON THE evening before All Saints' Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.
In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research--a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master's degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.
One thing many PhD students have in common is dissatisfaction. Some describe their work as "slave labour". Seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, low pay and uncertain prospects are widespread. You know you are a graduate student, goes one quip, when your office is better decorated than your home and you have a favourite flavour of instant noodle. "It isn't graduate school itself that is discouraging," says one student, who confesses to rather enjoying the hunt for free pizza. "What's discouraging is realising the end point has been yanked out of reach."
Whining PhD students are nothing new, but there seem to be genuine problems with the system that produces research doctorates (the practical "professional doctorates" in fields such as law, business and medicine have a more obvious value). There is an oversupply of PhDs. Although a doctorate is designed as training for a job in academia, the number of PhD positions is unrelated to the number of job openings. Meanwhile, business leaders complain about shortages of high-level skills, suggesting PhDs are not teaching the right things. The fiercest critics compare research doctorates to Ponzi or pyramid schemes.
For most of history even a first degree at a university was the privilege of a rich few, and many academic staff did not hold doctorates. But as higher education expanded after the second world war, so did the expectation that lecturers would hold advanced degrees. American universities geared up first: by 1970 America was producing just under a third of the world's university students and half of its science and technology PhDs (at that time it had only 6% of the global population). Since then America's annual output of PhDs has doubled, to 64,000. Other countries are catching up. Between 1998 and 2006 the number of doctorates handed out in all OECD countries grew by 40%, compared with 22% for America. PhD production sped up most dramatically in Mexico, Portugal, Italy and Slovakia. Even Japan, where the number of young people is shrinking, churned out about 46% more PhDs. Part of that growth reflects the expansion of university education outside America. Richard Freeman, a labour economist at Harvard University, says that by 2006 America was enrolling just 12% of the world's students. But universities have discovered that PhD students are cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour. With more PhD students they can do more research, and in some countries more teaching, with less money. A graduate assistant at Yale might earn $20,000 a year for nine months of teaching. The average pay of full professors in America was $109,000 in 2009--higher than the average for judges and magistrates. Indeed, the production of PhDs has far outstripped demand for university lecturers. In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than 100,000 doctoral degrees between 2005 and 2009. In the same period there were just 16,000 new professorships. Using PhD students to do much of the undergraduate teaching cuts the number of full-time jobs. Even in Canada, where the output of PhD graduates has grown relatively modestly, universities conferred 4,800 doctorate degrees in 2007 but hired just 2,616 new full-time professors. Only a few fast-developing countries, such as Brazil and China, now seem short of PhDs.
A short course in supply and demand
In research the story is similar. PhD students and contract staff known as "postdocs", described by one student as "the ugly underbelly of academia", do much of the research these days. There is a glut of postdocs too. Dr Freeman concluded from pre-2000 data that if American faculty jobs in the life sciences were increasing at 5% a year, just 20% of students would land one. In Canada 80% of postdocs earn $38,600 or less per year before tax--the average salary of a construction worker. The rise of the postdoc has created another obstacle on the way to an academic post. In some areas five years as a postdoc is now a prerequisite for landing a secure full-time job.
These armies of low-paid PhD researchers and postdocs boost universities', and therefore countries', research capacity. Yet that is not always a good thing. Brilliant, well-trained minds can go to waste when fashions change. The post-Sputnik era drove the rapid growth in PhD physicists that came to an abrupt halt as the Vietnam war drained the science budget. Brian Schwartz, a professor of physics at the City University of New York, says that in the 1970s as many as 5,000 physicists had to find jobs in other areas.
In America the rise of PhD teachers' unions reflects the breakdown of an implicit contract between universities and PhD students: crummy pay now for a good academic job later. Student teachers in public universities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison formed unions as early as the 1960s, but the pace of unionisation has increased recently. Unions are now spreading to private universities; though Yale and Cornell, where university administrators and some faculty argue that PhD students who teach are not workers but apprentices, have resisted union drives. In 2002 New York University was the first private university to recognise a PhD teachers' union, but stopped negotiating with it three years later.
In some countries, such as Britain and America, poor pay and job prospects are reflected in the number of foreign-born PhD students. Dr Freeman estimates that in 1966 only 23% of science and engineering PhDs in America were awarded to students born outside the country. By 2006 that proportion had increased to 48%. Foreign students tend to tolerate poorer working conditions, and the supply of cheap, brilliant, foreign labour also keeps wages down. Proponents of the PhD argue that it is worthwhile even if it does not lead to permanent academic employment. Not every student embarks on a PhD wanting a university career and many move successfully into private-sector jobs in, for instance, industrial research. That is true; but drop-out rates suggest that many students become dispirited. In America only 57% of doctoral students will have a PhD ten years after their first date of enrolment. In the humanities, where most students pay for their own PhDs, the figure is 49%. Worse still, whereas in other subject areas students tend to jump ship in the early years, in the humanities they cling like limpets before eventually falling off. And these students started out as the academic cream of the nation. Research at one American university found that those who finish are no cleverer than those who do not. Poor supervision, bad job prospects or lack of money cause them to run out of steam.
Even graduates who find work outside universities may not fare all that well. PhD courses are so specialised that university careers offices struggle to assist graduates looking for jobs, and supervisors tend to have little interest in students who are leaving academia. One OECD study shows that five years after receiving their degrees, more than 60% of PhDs in Slovakia and more than 45% in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Spain were still on temporary contracts. Many were postdocs. About one-third of Austria's PhD graduates take jobs unrelated to their degrees. In Germany 13% of all PhD graduates end up in lowly occupations. In the Netherlands the proportion is 21%.
A very slim premium
PhD graduates do at least earn more than those with a bachelor's degree. A study in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management by Bernard Casey shows that British men with a bachelor's degree earn 14% more than those who could have gone to university but chose not to. The earnings premium for a PhD is 26%. But the premium for a master's degree, which can be accomplished in as little as one year, is almost as high, at 23%. In some subjects the premium for a PhD vanishes entirely. PhDs in maths and computing, social sciences and languages earn no more than those with master's degrees. The premium for a PhD is actually smaller than for a master's degree in engineering and technology, architecture and education. Only in medicine, other sciences, and business and financial studies is it high enough to be worthwhile. Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master's degree.
Dr Schwartz, the New York physicist, says the skills learned in the course of a PhD can be readily acquired through much shorter courses. Thirty years ago, he says, Wall Street firms realised that some physicists could work out differential equations and recruited them to become "quants", analysts and traders. Today several short courses offer the advanced maths useful for finance. "A PhD physicist with one course on differential equations is not competitive," says Dr Schwartz.
Many students say they are pursuing their subject out of love, and that education is an end in itself. Some give little thought to where the qualification might lead. In one study of British PhD graduates, about a third admitted that they were doing their doctorate partly to go on being a student, or put off job hunting. Nearly half of engineering students admitted to this. Scientists can easily get stipends, and therefore drift into doing a PhD. But there are penalties, as well as benefits, to staying at university. Workers with "surplus schooling"--more education than a job requires--are likely to be less satisfied, less productive and more likely to say they are going to leave their jobs. The interests of universities and tenured academics are misaligned with those of PhD students.
Academics tend to regard asking whether a PhD is worthwhile as analogous to wondering whether there is too much art or culture in the world. They believe that knowledge spills from universities into society, making it more productive and healthier. That may well be true; but doing a PhD may still be a bad choice for an individual.
The interests of academics and universities on the one hand and PhD students on the other are not well aligned. The more bright students stay at universities, the better it is for academics. Postgraduate students bring in grants and beef up their supervisors' publication records. Academics pick bright undergraduate students and groom them as potential graduate students. It isn't in their interests to turn the smart kids away, at least at the beginning. One female student spoke of being told of glowing opportunities at the outset, but after seven years of hard slog she was fobbed off with a joke about finding a rich husband.
Monica Harris, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, is a rare exception. She believes that too many PhDs are being produced, and has stopped admitting them. But such unilateral academic birth control is rare. One Ivy-League president, asked recently about PhD oversupply, said that if the top universities cut back others will step in to offer them instead.
Many of the drawbacks of doing a PhD are well known. Your correspondent was aware of them over a decade ago while she slogged through a largely pointless PhD in theoretical ecology. As Europeans try to harmonise higher education, some institutions are pushing the more structured learning that comes with an American PhD.
The organisations that pay for research have realised that many PhDs find it tough to transfer their skills into the job market. Writing lab reports, giving academic presentations and conducting six-month literature reviews can be surprisingly unhelpful in a world where technical knowledge has to be assimilated quickly and presented simply to a wide audience. Some universities are now offering their PhD students training in soft skills such as communication and teamwork that may be useful in the labour market. In Britain a four-year NewRoutePhD claims to develop just such skills in graduates.
Measurements and incentives might be changed, too. Some university departments and academics regard numbers of PhD graduates as an indicator of success and compete to produce more. For the students, a measure of how quickly those students get a permanent job, and what they earn, would be more useful. Where penalties are levied on academics who allow PhDs to overrun, the number of students who complete rises abruptly, suggesting that students were previously allowed to fester.
Many of those who embark on a PhD are the smartest in their class and will have been the best at everything they have done. They will have amassed awards and prizes. As this year's new crop of graduate students bounce into their research, few will be willing to accept that the system they are entering could be designed for the benefit of others, that even hard work and brilliance may well not be enough to succeed, and that they would be better off doing something else. They might use their research skills to look harder at the lot of the disposable academic. Someone should write a thesis about that.
R.O.I. [i.e., return on investment]
By CECILIA CAPUZZI SIMON
Graduate school has long been a recession hideout, a place to add new skills and credentials that, presumably, increase job opportunities and salary in a market recovered by graduation. A year after 2008's economic meltdown, applications to graduate school rose more than 8 percent. Last year, as the country hobbled toward recovery (or not), 27 percent of college seniors said they planned to attend immediately after graduation, up from 21 percent in 2007, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Students will invest, typically, two or more years in advanced study and thousands of dollars in tuition and expenses. A little more than half of students working toward a master's will borrow an average $31,000, on top of any undergraduate debt they may already have.
So as a strictly financial calculation, does the investment pay off?
Some academics balk at the return-on-investment question. "Universities don't sit around and say, 'We will only have graduate schools in which the starting salary is higher than the tuition,' " says Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Journalists, like others who are pursuing a passion, he says, "do not think of their lives in pure R.O.I. terms."
Indeed, when it comes to gauging the value of education, considering only payback is seldom sound, especially for programs steeped in traditions of "knowledge for knowledge's sake." But if schools of
applied learning aren't asking the tough questions about the financials of a degree, potential students should, says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education
and the Workforce. "No one's telling them what it's worth. Certainly the colleges aren't."
Looking at the big picture, the case for grad school seems indisputable: in 2009, the median salary of master's recipients was nearly 25% more than that of colleagues with only a bachelor's, according to a report released in May by Dr. Carnevale that analyzed never-before-gathered Census Bureau data on compensation by major and degree level.
Dr. Carnevale concludes that grad school is "the best place to ride out a recession" for those who can afford it and are young enough (under 35) to reap the long-term benefit, or who are in fields like
health or social work where a master's or certification is critical to advance. For new college graduates, he says, entering the current job market with a diminished starting salary and job description could compromise a lifelong career and earnings trajectory.
Think of grad school as a 40-year investment, Dr. Carnevale says. Over time, it can move you out of the rank and file into elite positions. The key is determining where the jobs and compensation are. Consider, in your calculation, these variables: institutional quality, tuition costs, debt incurred, and the economic outlook over
all and for particular specialties. So-called opportunity costs -- lost wages and possible career advancement had you stayed in the job market -- also change the cost-benefit picture.
"Field matters," Dr. Carnevale and others caution. As the Census study shows, in some fields the bump from an advanced degree is minuscule (meteorology), or relatively small because it's coming off an already low salary (counseling psychology). But over all, in every major, more education results in more money, and in some (engineering) the increase can be significant.
Engineers are in such demand that those fresh out of undergraduate programs land well-paying positions, and it's a field that values skills learned on the job.
Still, a graduate degree can identify candidates in the workplace for higher-paying management positions or jobs that require specialized knowledge, says Jeff Strohl, an economist who worked on the Georgetown report. In that report, engineers with master's degrees in 2009 earned a median salary of $99,000--$24,000 more than those with only a bachelor's. With research grants covering tuition for many students, a master's degree in engineering can provide a great return on investment. That is not usually the case for doctorates, however, unless they move into high-tech fields or supervisory roles. K. Mani Chandy, chairman of the engineering school at the California Institute of Technology, makes clear to Ph.D. candidates at the outset that they will give up significant income and five years of marketplace experience--perhaps the bigger sacrifice, he says, in the fast-changing world of engineering and information technology.
"The R.O.I. for them," he adds, "is intellectual happiness and not money."
Which brings us back to journalism students' labors of love. Hopefuls can spend between $18,680 (in-state for Kansas State University's two-year program) and $50,000 (for Columbia's one-year degree) for a master's that, according to an annual survey by the
University of Georgia, adds about $9,000 to starting salary. That's on average $39,000 for those lucky enough to find a job in the worst employment market for journalists in 25 years. (By graduation, 31 percent of Columbia's class of 2011 had full-time job offers; half
had lined up paid internships, which Mr. Lemann insists often lead To jobs.) If a degree in journalism seems risky, the financial benefit of an M.B.A., while taking a hit during the recession, is clear. The average expected starting salary of an M.B.A. in 2011 is $91,000,
according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. The institution attended can influence R.O.I. as well. Using data from GMAC and other sources, two business-school professors set out to calculate the financial impact of an M.B.A. In 2007, the 50
top-ranked M.B.A. schools averaged a 17 percent return on investment that's starting salary compared to tuition costs, according to the two professors, Brooks C. Holtom at Georgetown and Edward J. Inderrieden at Marquette University.
The top - 10 M.B.A. schools, with their higher tuition ($102,000 at Harvard; $108,000 for Wharton), scored a lower R.O.I. of 12 percent.
But with corresponding raises and bonuses and institutional cache, the net value of the investment in an M.B.A. from an elite institution is greater over time, according to Dr. Holtom and Dr. Inderrieden.
The master's in social work has become "absolutely essential" to advance in the profession, says Jacqueline B. Mondros, dean of Hunter College's School of Social Work, of the City University of New York. Ninety percent of the members of the National Association
of Social Workers, the field's largest professional organization, have an M.S.W. But the return on investment won't tempt. For social workers with the advanced degree, the median salary in 2009 was
$55,000, according to the group's research. Social workers with a B.A. earned $15,000 less, while Ph.D.'s added $17,000 to their median pay.
And the investment? Students seeking an M.S.W. borrow an average $35,500 for a degree that can cost $34,000 at Hunter or $80,000 at Columbia. That's more than their M.B.A. counterparts, who borrow on
average $32,000, and more of them borrow (three-quarters of all M.S.W. candidates; half of M.B.A. students).
The rule of thumb for borrowing, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of finaid.org, is that debt should never exceed starting salary. Ideally, he adds, it should be half that.
That's what's happening in veterinary medicine. Vet students pay tuition comparable to medical students. They also take on comparable debt. At Cornell University's highly regarded program, tuition in 2010 totaled $85,200 ($128,250 for nonresidents), and students incurred a mean debt of $92,700. Last year, half of Cornell graduates went on to jobs with an average starting salary of $75,000. Counting the half that went on to low-paying internships brings the average to $68,000.
The field, dominated by small businesses, was hit hard in the recession as practices cut back on staff vets. To pay off debt, most graduates are choosing more lucrative urban "companion animal" practices over rural, large-animal practices. This has caused a shortage that will worsen as practitioners retire, and applications have stagnated.
"The debt-to-salary ratio is something we worry about," says Michael I. Kotlikoff, dean of the Cornell veterinary medicine program. "It's not like philosophy or literature," fields notorious for turning out unemployable Ph.D.'s. "But at some point you start to wonder whether that investment is financially sound."
Meanwhile, many law school graduates are taking what work they can get. Last year, while law schools continued to overpopulate the market with J.D.'s (43,000 in 2009, or 11 percent more than a decade
ago), 17,000 jobs were cut from the field, and there were 33 percent fewer summer associate offers.
Those who graduate from the top schools have the best opportunities for the high-paying jobs out there. But many newly minted lawyers are picking up hourly work, or taking staff jobs that typically pay $65,000 a year.
That happens to be the "break-even salary" that makes the investment in law school worthwhile, according to research from Northwestern
A law degree can run $100,000 at low-tier schools, and upward of< $140,000 at top ones. According to the National Postsecondary< Student Aid Study, 89 percent of law students borrow an average $80,000. You don't need a master's degree in finance to see what kind of investment that might turn out to be.
Cecilia Capuzzi Simon covers education from Washington, D.C., and teaches writing at American University.
- Yale University has historically had links to the intelligence community, detailed thoroughly by Robin Winks expert on theory and development of espionage in his book Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War 1939-1961
- 2010 ID theft hits 3.3 million college students ECMC, one of the biggest / worst / cases of student identity theft in the nation, affecting 5 percent of all students with federal loans in the United States. Educational Credit Management Corp., said that the stolen data include names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. No bank account or other financial information was included in the data. Experian, to provide affected students with free credit monitoring and protection services. The company is sending letters to affected students. Toll-free telephone hotline 1-877-449-3568.
- 2010 The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/education/23college.html
- “I don't think overextending a family's finances to get a brand-name college in any way serves a child's needs,” said Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, an organization whose members help American families select a university based on cost, among other criteria. “Choosing a college that's a little less well known — a regional leader versus a national one — seems to be a smart financial decision. The student is more likely to be successful, and he's more likely to be offered aid.” ACTA gave high marks to the more affordable universities that it said had more comprehensive ranges of courses in core fields like history, literature, mathematics and science than far more expensive schools.
- Unpaid Interns, Complicit Colleges April 2, 2011
ON college campuses, the annual race for summer internships, many of them unpaid, is well under way. But instead of steering students toward the best opportunities and encouraging them to value their work, many institutions of higher learning are complicit in helping companies skirt a nebulous area of labor law. Colleges and universities have become cheerleaders and enablers of the unpaid internship boom, failing to inform young people of their rights or protect them from the miserly calculus of employers. In hundreds of interviews with interns over the past three years, I found dejected students resigned to working unpaid for summers, semesters and even entire academic years — and, increasingly, to paying for the privilege.
Easy A: Study finds 43% of grades are A By Daniel de Vise Washington Post
A new study by an outspoken critic of academic grade inflation finds that 43 percent of all letter grades issued by professors today are As. Stuart Rojstaczer has spent years amassing evidence of grade inflation, an on-again, off-again trend he traces to 1940. By Rojstaczer's reckoning, the A has emerged in the new millennium as the most popular grade — it eclipsed the B in prevalence around 1998. His study, published in the journal Teachers College Record, reveals a slow but steady transformation of grades and grading in academia.
Consider: In the World War II era, roughly 35 percent of grades were B, and an equal share were C. Just 15 percent were A. A slightly lower share were D, and 5 percent were F.
And today? Nearly half of grades are A. The bland B has held steady at 35 percent. The C has declined just as sharply as the A has ascended, and it now accounts for just 15 percent of all grades. To put it another way: 50 and 60 years ago, B's and C's made up the vast majority of all grades. Today, the most common grades by far are A's and B's.
What is going on? Rojstaczer and co-author Christopher Healy suggest that the motive is a “consumer-based” approach to higher education: Particularly in private colleges, professors grade high to keep students satisfied with their collegiate experience. They track grade inflation alongside the rise of faculty evaluations by students. Faculty who grade well get better reviews from their student “customers.” Those evaluations, in turn, determine faculty pay and promotion.
The authors contend that colleges are effectively losing their standards. There is no distinction any more between good and excellent performance; students at the average college will get a high grade no matter how much classwork they complete or how well they score on their tests. Over the past few decades, they write, "America's institutions of higher learning gradually created a fiction that excellence was common and that failure was virtually nonexistent." They theorize that the promise of an easy A might, in turn, prompt students to spend less time studying and working on class assignments, another well-documented trend over the past 50 years. Absent firm oversight, they write, "meaningful grades will not return to the American academy."