College is no longer the “given” it once was.
I graduated from high school at age 16. No one in my family doubted the next step for me was college. The family culture required it. It did not even matter which college I attended. Pick one and go. I was neither emotionally nor practically ready for college. I was 16, going on 12, as the next 4 years confirmed.
Today I am encouraged by the growing number of homeschool parents who are not afraid to ask “Why?” about nearly everything:
“Why am I making my son learn to read at age 5?”
“Why are we doing Algebra right now, anyway?”
“Why do we keep using this curriculum when nobody likes it?”
And, “Why are we assuming college is the most appropriate next step for my child?”
There are many alternatives to college and I will speak of them in future blogs. Right now I want to ask some questions related to college:
“What is the value of a college diploma?” “Does a college diploma mean the student has received a college education?”
For decades, statistics have shown that a college diploma raises a person’s lifetime employment earnings over that of a high school diploma. Today’s youth are encouraged to look at the future’s best employment opportunities and strive to enter those disciplines.
Educators are using the acronym STEM to direct students toward the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math since these are the four fields that promise the highest degree of future earnings potential.
According to U.S. News & World Report, here are the most valuable college degrees in terms of future earnings against the cost of obtaining that degree:
1. Engineering (especially Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Engineering and Materials Sciences)
4. Statistics (more valuable than a degree in business)
5. Applied Mathematics
6. General Mathematics
7. Nursing (strong demand with questionable earnings growth potential)
8. Education (in demand with little earnings growth potential)
And, here are the Forbes’ top 10 U.S. colleges ranked by the financial value of their diplomas as against the cost of attending that college:
1. Harvey Mudd College (California)
2. California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
3. Polytechnic Institute of New York (NYU-Poly)
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5. SUNY – Maritime College
6. Colorado School of Mines
7. Stevens Institute of Technology
8. Stanford University
9. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
10. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT)
Just reading the names of these colleges gives you the idea that STEM really is a valuable direction for your student to take.*
By contrast, Forbes rates the following college majors in terms of their poor future earnings potential:
1. Anthropology and Archaeology
2. Film, Video, & Photographic Arts
3. Fine Arts
4. Philosophy & Religious Studies
5. Liberal Arts
7. Physical Fitness and Parks & Recreation
8. Commercial Art & Graphic Design
10. English & Literature
Should we all now conclude that our homeschooled students be directed into a future in STEM? Or, is there something more important than simply looking at an individual’s future earning potential?
I will begin addressing these questions in my next blog.
*[For anyone interested, the following website ranks over 1,000 colleges by the value of their degrees (cost of their degrees against the potential future earnings their degrees deliver): http://www.payscale.com/college-education-value-2013].
Hitting them where it hurts:
I was about to send this post when, just now, I received a blog from the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Here is the gist of what he said:
Too many people are graduating from college with lots of debt which they cannot pay off because their education does not translate into employment. 90% of the income realized by for-profit colleges comes from Federal loans and grants. These for-profit colleges should be able to demonstrate that what they teach their students is valued in the marketplace, or the Government should stop providing funds to students attending those colleges. (Presumably, the college would then go bankrupt—my comment).
The Secretary went on to say that, from now on, all for-profit colleges must track their students’ post-graduation employment to determine if those graduates actually received an education that made them employable. Finally, he said that the Government will begin to create a list (I believe, similar to the one I have listed, above) which will let students know which colleges offer courses that have practical meaning for a student’s future.
At first, I was cynical about what I read (but, then, I am cynical about nearly everything the Federal Government imposes on its citizenry these days). However, after reading it again, I wondered if the Secretary was actually on to something…
I would like to hear what you think, not just about what Duncan said, but about college in general. Post your thoughts, below.
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