A sizable majority of Americans and all the candidates share the belief that a university degree is a valuable investment, and government ought to do what it can to help as many people as possible attend college. There is also an intrinsic value to a university education that goes beyond a set of specialized skills for finding a good employment. But politicians who wish to make college more accessible and more affordable ignore an inconvenient truth: a large number of graduates in recent years have not been able to find well-paying jobs that actually require a degree. Instead, they have found part-time jobs and/or have had to accept low- or unskilled ones that pay less than professional positions and underutilize the aptitudes they developed in college.
A College Degree Is Worth Less if You Are Raised Poor (February 2016) People with more education have higher earnings. Boosting college education is therefore seen by many—including me—as a way to lift people out of poverty, combat growing income inequality, and increase upward social mobility. But how much upward lift does a bachelor’s degree really give to earnings? The answer turns out to vary by family background.
Visit the Education Department’s Database on earnings after graduation from any American University and Community College. This database website was made available to public in September 2015.
Jobless Graduates Who Sued Law Schools Find Little Success in Court (USA, October 15, 2015) Disgruntled law-school graduates who filed suits accusing their alma maters of deceiving them about their chances of landing a well-paying job haven’t had much success in court. More than a dozen class actions were filed in 2011 and 2012, but courts across the country have knocked out the lawsuits one by one, including a recent dismissal in Florida. Only a few remain.
Gaps in Earnings Stand Out in Release of College Data, (USA, September 13, 2015)
On Saturday, the federal government solved that problem by releasing a huge set of new data detailing the earnings of people who attended nearly every college and university in America. Although it abandoned efforts to rate the quality of colleges, the federal government matched data from the federal student financial aid system to federal tax returns. The Department of Education was thus able to calculate how much money people who enrolled in individual colleges in 2001 and 2002 were earning 10 years later. On the surface, the trends aren’t surprising — students who enroll in wealthy, elite colleges earn more than those who do not. But the deeper that you delve into the data, the more clear it becomes how perilous the higher education market can be for students making expensive, important choices that don’t always pay off. ***
This spring, an estimated 2.8 million university graduates will enter the U.S. workforce with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees just as America’s unemployment rate hits its lowest level in nearly seven years. Cause for celebration, right? Not so fast.
The millennial generation is still lagging in the workplace, just as it did last year. It makes up about 40 percent of the unemployed in the U.S., says Anthony Carnevale, a director and research professor for Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. ***
Credential Creep Confirmed (September 9, 2014) The broad public policy push for more Americans to get a higher education leans heavily on the idea that those without a college degree are up a creek, because so many jobs in today’s technology and information economy (and more in tomorrow’s) will require a credential. Many critics of higher education, in turn, complain that the “college completion” movement has been fed by (and feeds) credential inflation, with employers imposing a degree requirement for many jobs that never required one (and still don’t) simply because they can.***
Are the Job Prospects of Recent College Graduates Improving? (September 2014)
Moving the Goalposts: How Demand for a Bachelor’s Degree Is Reshaping the Workforce (September 2014)
An increasing number of job seekers face being shut out of middle-skill, middle-class occupations by employers’ rising demand for a bachelor’s degree. This credential inflation, or “upcredentialing” is affecting a wide range of jobs from executive assistants to construction supervisors and has serious implications both for workers not seeking a college degree and for employers struggling to fill jobs.***
Why not having a college degree is a bigger barrier than it used to be (September 11, 2014)
More and more employers are requiring bachelors degrees for positions that years ago wouldn’t have needed them, shutting off access for the unmatriculated. Forget the “skills gap.” According to a new report from the career data analytics service Burning Glass, there’s actually a “credentials gap” for training and development specialists: While only half the people currently in that role have undergraduate degrees, 75 percent of online job postings list a BA as a requirement, leaving a gap of 25 percent.**
Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs? (June 2014)
The Coming Burst of College Bubble (September 2012)
Why are we spending so much money on college? And why are we so unhappy about it? We all seem to agree that a college education is wonderful, and yet strangely we worry when we see families investing so much in this supposedly essential good. Maybe it’s time to ask a question that seems almost sacrilegious: is all this investment in college education really worth it? The answer, I fear, is that it’s not. For an increasing number of kids, the extra time and money spent pursuing a college diploma will leave them worse off than they were before they set foot on campus. ***