Archives for February 2013

It’s Not Always What It Seems

We have talked a lot about the need to chose degrees and careers that create value for you.  My book “Your Future is Calling” guides you through the 950+ careers listed on the Department of Labor WEB site.  Buzz Today Source:  The New York Times. In 2007, the Veterinary Medical Association contended that the United States needed more veterinarians.  In 2012, a National Academy of Sciences found no evidence of vet shortages.  It also concluded that the “cost of veterinary education is at a crisis point”.  .

I always believed that veterinarians were in demand and earned a good income. Upon reflection, that belief was probably because it takes a lot of education to become a vet and in the end they are sort of like a human medical doctor.

I was shocked to read of a 30 year old veterinarian graduate who recently graduated with $312,000 of student debt.  The problem is that the average starting salary for veterinary graduates is $45,575 per year.  This ratio of debt far exceeds the debt to starting salary ratio of 3 to 1 recommended.

The prospect is that the young woman grad will be repaying her student loans for about 25 years for a total of over $650,000 with taxes.  One of the reasons this grad’s bill is so high is because she failed to be accepted to the reasonably priced University of California – Davis Vet school and instead went to a high tuition cost off shore for-profit school.

But as bad as the young graduate’s situation is, it is not as bad as a student who went to a for-profit vet school, lasted 6 semesters than failed out racking up $160,000 of debt and no degree.  High debt and no degree is about as bad a situation you can wind up in.

This post is the first in a series that looks at how critical it is to make sure that you fully understand your career prospects that fit “who you are”.  It also introduces the subject of how important it is fully understand everything about the college you are considering attending.

By the way, the 30 year old veterinarian went into the career because it is something she wanted to do since childhood.  The intrinsic value of what she is doing (to do) is a powerful motivator for her.  Her decision fits “who she is” very well.  Now she has to manage the economics of her decision.

One final note on this post:  O*Net lists the average veterinarian salary as $82,900, clearly including many veterinarians with many years of experience.


Why are there so many unfilled jobs when there are so many looking for work? In brief, it is because so many learners are not studying what is required in our global economy.

Buzz Today Source: CNN Money 72% of educators believe they’re doing a good job of preparing students for the workforce, while only 45% of graduates and 42% of employers think so, a McKinsey & Co. survey found.

Clearly graduates and employers have different opinions about how well higher education prepares graduates to meet employer needs. While all of this is going on, jobs are going unfilled. Only two-third of recent graduates were employed six months after graduation, yet there are 3.6 million jobs sitting empty nationwide. Ironically, this is especially true for coveted manufacturing jobs.

So what are you supposed to do in the face of these facts? The answer is that you have to rely less on what your professors are saying and more on yourself and labor market data when it comes to what you study in college.

The bottom line is that while professors are smart and well educated, they do not necessarily connect to job opportunities employers are creating. You need a third party source that can help you link what you study to where the jobs are. The choice of the university and the degree should come last, not first. Knowing who you are match job opportunities need to come first.

I write about exactly these issues in my forth coming book:  Your Future is Calling.

What a College Degree Guarantees

There is a lot of chatter these days about college degree holders who can’t find a job. The implication is that somehow a promise has been broken.  The implied promise is that getting a college degree should assure the graduate employment.

So the key question is:  “What does a college degree guarantee?”

The answer: Nothing.  There are no guarantees in life so why should a college education be any different?.

The important fact is that an increasing number of college graduates with degrees are unable to get a good job.  For our conversation here the important thing to examine is what this is all about and even more important, what you can do about it.   Buzz Todayfrom:  The Wall Street Journal North Carolina’s new governor, Pat McCrory said “he is concerned that many college graduates can’t get decent jobs.  The problem he suggested, might be that many academic disciplines have no practical applications”… The truth is, Elite universities, such as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are doing a disservice when they lead students into majors with few, if any, job prospects. 

In another post I talked about the fact that today about 15% of taxi drivers in America are college degree holders.  This is up from about 1% in 1970.

Some say that what this means, is that while it once was the case that earning a college degree was “worth it”, it no longer is the case.  Not true.  What is different today from jobs in 1970, is that it is harder to get a good job period.

In this difficult job market, a more important question is: “what degrees from what universities are the degreed taxi cab drivers?”

What is clear is that today it is more important than ever to make sure that the investment in a college degree is in the right area of study – areas that are directly linked to new opportunity in the rapidly changing global economy.  What is different is that the world is changing ever faster and it is not a good personal strategy to just get any college degree.

For those of you considering earning your bachelor degree, what matters is which degree you get from which university.  The one certainty today is that simply earning a college degree is not a guarantee to a financially productive career.  This increases the importance of choosing the right degree from the right university before you even begin studying.   Resources to do this are in my forthcoming book “Your Future is Calling”.

College and the Adult Learner

My blog answers the question:  “Is a college degree worth it?”

The answer to this question is “yes”… IF.

In addition to the yes you need to know why and how.   I also promise to share even more information what comes after the “if.” Buzz TodayFrom: cnbc
Today, 15 percent of US taxi drivers have a college degree, up from fewer than 1 percent in 1970. The study arrives at a time when news articles asking, “Is college worth it?” have become commonplace. But, although the new report suggests the answer often is “no,” this is a complicated issue, with other scholars defending the idea that expanding higher education will benefit individuals and the economy.
My commitment to you is to give you practical advice and to share what I have learned to help you have a better future. My goal is to help you make the choices today that lead to the “yes” in your life tomorrow.

There are literally millions of combinations of colleges and degrees. It’s important to realize that not every one of those combinations of colleges and degrees produce a result that is “worth it.”  There are lots of combinations that are virtually certain to not be “worth it.”

Today, it is easy and sensational for news reporters to interview someone who has taken on lots of debt to get their degree and now drives a taxicab. Does this mean that if you earn a degree you will have lots of debt and will be driving a taxi? The answer is no,

To keep this from happening you it is important to get the right information.  With good information you can make better decisions before you start taking classes.  For you, it’s not what someone else did yesterday that determines whether your degree will be “worth it” tomorrow.

It’s what you do today and tomorrow that will determine whether your degree will be “worth it” in the future. I encourage you to join the conversation.