November 26, 2012

"Young adults are earning college degrees at a record rate. Why?"

Headline at the Christian Science Monitor.

Good question. Why? Doing what you're told? Nothing better to do? Putting off the time when the consequences of your decisions become apparent? High self-esteem leading you to think you're the exception to the trend? Being part of the trend, going where everyone else is going?

27 comments:

rhhardin said...

They're high school degrees.

MadisonMan said...

I'll tell you why. They've been sold a bill of goods from Colleges. Most professions that used to require not much post-High School training (Nursing, Schoolteacher, for example) now require a complete 4-year degree -- and then some. That extra training has been foisted on schoolteachers, for example, by Universities (with the help of Legislators trying to "fix" things) and Unions as a kind of job guarantee for University Education Departments.

But I'm not cynical.

sydney said...

Both MadisonMan and rhhardin are correct. Pretty much everyone who graduates from high school these days has been told they need to go to college to get a job. Unfortunately, a lot of them aren't college material and would be better off learning a trade. The result is the colleges have to dumb down their courses to the point that they are nothing more than HighSchool 2.0.

We have so many colleges here in Northeast Ohio you can't swing a cat without hitting one. And each of them keeps expanding and growing. The public ones cost around $20,000 a year now. The private ones are up to $50,000 - the same you pay for an Ivy League. At some point, you would think people would realize they are getting robbed.

Paco Wové said...

I had an student in a lab once who was working on his M.S. in Education. (I don't remember why he ended up taking an upper-level bio. course.) On the second day of class, he called me over to complain about the textbook. It was too long, and had too many words in it. He was sure of this, because, after all, he was working on his Master's Degree in Education. The third week or so he dropped the course.

It pains me to say it, because I have dear and close relatives with advanced degrees from Education departments - but I suspect that they are the worst thing that has ever happened to education in the United States.

Kevin said...

Look, the people staffing HR departments for the last 50 years have all come from the same schools teaching the same standards. These are now the gatekeepers to any non-self-employed job (and how many 20 year olds can self-employ, exactly?). Just because you and Instapundit keep going on about how college isn't necessary to success doesn't mean that anyone in those HR departments is listening, or will listen, ever. They are fully on board with, "I had to, now you have to, too." College may be a big expensive hoop you have to jump through for not much good reason, but that doesn't make the hoop go away. There is no sign of that changing any decade soon.

Pogo said...

I am working on an MBA in order to get out of medicine, which faces a ruinous decade.

Lyssa said...

I think Kevin is basically right. I'm as skeptical of the actual value of a college degree as anyone (though I agree strongly with rhhardin, they really are more high school degrees), but, at the same time, unless you start your own business (which is great and should be commended and encoragued, but is not for everyone), it's a gate that most jobs require.

My husband (who's definitely intelligent enough for any advanced degree) is a college drop out, and currently contemplating going back (at 36). Basically every job that he would be interested in requires some sort of certification, otherwise useless though such cert may be. He just can't figure out what to actually study. It leaves him in a confusing place.

(I'd like to see him start his own biz, but, well . . . health insurance. They've built so many roadblocks into the current system to going it alone.)

Gabriel Hanna said...

Lower academic standards, both in high school and college. Administrations push retention above anything else, since funding is dependent on it--success is measured by the number of people who graduate.

The university where I work routinely allows students to get basic courses waived if they don't perform up to the minimum expectations. The course I teach has had half its content removed.

Joe Schmoe said...

Just about every modern parent under the sun tells their kids they have to go to college. They've been doing this for 30 years.

Renee said...

w/ Joe on the issue.

At least more people are completing their degrees. I feel bad for those with 'some college'.

Do employers/job market value these degrees though.

A degree with any accreditation (no matter how useless it may be) is still worth more, then no degree.

David said...

Extended adolescence at high financial and other cost.

David said...

"Pogo said...
I am working on an MBA in order to get out of medicine, which faces a ruinous decade."

And here I am hoping that medicine will let me live long enough to watch it all.

karrde said...

@Paco,

In my region, there is a big push for science-and-math-qualified educators.

I can recall local colleges that were setting up Masters-level "Science for Ed Majors" courses. It sounded like a joke to me at first. I figured that the students who want to become science-educators should start in one of the sciences, and then branch into Education. But I guess Education majors who want some qualification to teach science need somewhere to go.

Anyway: most sciences have a lexicon that is used by people in the field. Even Law and Mathematics have a set of words which gain specific meanings inside the field. (Ask a mathematician how a 'group' relates to a 'field', and you might get a hint of this.)

I'm surprised that the student you mentions hasn't figured this out yet. And that he hadn't searched for a Biology Lexicon, or made his own.

After all, one of the tools that an Educator should be able to describe for students is the ability to study a Lexicon that is specific to whatever subject is being studied.

edutcher said...

Some think it's something to pass the time while they wait out the "recession".

Are they in for a shock.

Michael Haz said...

A BA in a liberal arts field is as useful today as a diploma from a suburban high school. An MA in a liberal arts field is slightly more useful, plus it allows students extra two years of student behavior.

Degree creep in other fields often makes a graduate degree mandatory.

An MBA, for example was uncommon two decades ago, and qualified its holder for a better job than someone with a BA in a business field. MBA mills have sprung up everywhere, so now they are common in business. To differentiate onseself, some students now seek out their MBAs for big-name universities, while others will obtain an MA in a specific field, such as fininace or accounting rather than the ubiquitous MBA.

An MA in accounting and 6 years experience used to qualify one to sit for the CPA exams. No longer. To earn the CPA designation one now needs the work requirement plus an MA in accounting or an MBA.

My grand niece earned a BA in physical therapy. Before she entered the workforce twenty years ago, she was told she needed an MA in that field, so she got one. My neighbor's daugheter just graduated form UW with a BA in physical therapy, and was told she needs to have PhD to get any kind of good job. So she's now in grad school.

Young people may be earning college degrees in a record rate because (1) the competition for good jobs is fierce in many fields and an advanced degree helps get a better job,and (2) the BA degree in nearly any field has been dumbed down so as to be worth not much more than a HS diploma.

One of my grandfathers, now deceased, dropped out of high school in the 11th grade. By that level, he had learned Latin, Greek, math, English, and history. He had also learned animal husbandry, construction and machine shop.

The suburban high school where my wife teaches has stopped teaching how to diagram sentences, most grammer, writing, civics, shop and a host of other subjects. And the admin has mandated that no student will be given a grade below C in any subject, even if the student does F work.

Dumbing down. Something not done in India, Japan, China and a host of other countries. You can see their citizens in most offices, labs, engineering centers and other work places in America these days.


Michael Haz said...

4th graph should have started a BA in accounting....

Chip S. said...

Why?

Wild guess.

Dante said...

Of the 1.7 million bachelor's degrees awarded in 2009–10, over half were concentrated in five fields: business, management, marketing, and personal and culinary services (22 percent); social sciences and history (10 percent); health professions and related programs (8 percent); education (6 percent); and psychology (6 percent) (see table A-38-1). The fields of visual and performing arts (6 percent), engineering and engineering technologies (5 percent), biological and biomedical sciences (5 percent), and communication and communications technologies (5 percent)

Everyone wants to be the boss, but no one wants to do the work.

Daniel Richwine said...

Woman have been told to get them, and so they have.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

There is another interpretation of this phenomenon. A majority of America's graduate and doctoral students are only capable of achievement through structured direction. That is to say, they are technicians, and not engineers or scientists. We are educating a population of workers with limited skill and knowledge, and discouraging individual initiative.

Meanwhile, with the normalization of inflation exceeding 10% annually, the burden of student debt -- the fastest growing form of debt -- is progressive and counterproductive.

Amartel said...

Hopes, dreams, feelings.
Paid for by Other People.

chickelit said...

Nothing like a little necessity to mother some invention.

Alex said...

Only 5% are engineering degrees.

Dante said...

Alex,

As ear as I can tell, 15% are "doing" things. The rest is service oriented stuff.

I'm taking a coursera course. We need to break the stranglehold of service sector jobs, let's start with education, and work out from there.

Really, how many people do there need to be to teach Algebra? With the internet, I can imagine much more efficient ways of doing it.

McTriumph said...

Somewhere I read that the starting average starting salary for undergrad degree from the South Dakota School of Mines is higher than that of an Ivy League institution.

McTriumph said...

erase one of those "starting"s.