Archives for April 2013

Social Media Resources

In earlier posts I shared my view that many of the resources available to help college students decide on what school to attend were of little direct value to the adult student returning.   The BUZZ Today covers the impact of social media in college selection decision making.   The topic of social media in this USA Today article is valuable but the content is very much targeted at the traditional high school graduate considering a traditional campus based education.

  Buzz TodaySource:   USA Today. Some examples of how colleges are using Pinterest: The University of Arizona posts photos of fun dorm rooms, the College of William & Mary posts photos of its many squirrels running around campus and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln posted over 50 photos of its lovely campus. These kinds of images, with text attached, can help you see the school through new eyes and could even tip the scales if you’re really unsure where to go. Even the squirrels could help you decide on a college.  Unigo is a website that strives to give college students a forum where they’re in control. Meaning, they can talk about their schools as honestly as they want and give rankings without repercussions. These reviews can prove very useful for prospective college students.

I am sure that were you getting ready to go to a campus to get your education you would like to see the dorms and the squirrels.  But the truth is, that for working adults returning to school, dorms and squirrels are probably very low on the priority list.

What adults need is more specific information about careers, degree programs, financial aid and whether credits from prior learning will transfer to a new school.

The intent here is not to be demeaning about social media.  This resource can help every prospective student in some fashion.   The point of this discussion is to contrast how the education world in America is largely designed to serve traditional students with campus based programs.

One of the social media sites of potential value to adult learners are comments posted by currently enrolled students.  The site is Unigo.  See BUZZ Today for more specifics.

In the end, it is important that you as an adult learner, has access to the most well organized and specific resources you need to make your decision.  My recommendation for you as a nontraditional student remains Your Future is Calling.

One Reason Where You Decide to Get Your Degree Makes a Difference

Colleges find a new way to get grads hired

One of the realities of the world we live in today is that it is changing faster than ever before in history.  The challenge for you is to make good decisions about what to study.  Buzz Today Source:  CNN Money.   Based on real-time labor-market information, the Lone Star College System in Houston will close three programs next fall, in aviation management, hospitality management and computer support.  The community college found that employers prefer four-year to two-year degrees in the first two cases, and were outsourcing work in the third in order to lower labor costs. But the school is adding programs to train oil and gas drillers and CT-scan technicians, for which there is burgeoning demand.

Some of the debate about what to study is between the academics.  STEM vs. liberal arts is a long running battle between professors.  There are good points to be made on both sides of this debate.  One of those arguments made by the liberal arts professors is that there is more to life than simply making more money.  They are right.  I agree, there is more to life.  And there is some great information that a broad liberal arts can prepare one to be a good decision maker.

The challenge you face is not what others think about what to study.  What is important is for you to make your decisions based on “who you are”.  This is a topic we explored in an earlier blog post and is further developed in Your Future is Calling.

The labor market data clearly shows that STEM programs pay higher wages than liberal arts degrees on average.  But it may be far more important to you to take a lower paying career that fulfills “who you are”.  Jobs that are in green industries may be such a choice. For details on green job choices see Chapter 7 of “Your Future is Calling”.

But this conversation is not just about you and the career choices you need to make.  As the title of this blog implies, this is about how the college you select relates to job placement.  Not all colleges are equal on this issue.  Universities can be very slow to change when it comes to terminating degrees and programs.  Professors have personal interest in what is taught.

Some colleges are slow and reactive.  Others are proactive and aggressive at changing what they offer.  The information in today’s BUZZ Today shows how program decisions can be a part of some colleges.  The challenge for you is to know which colleges and universities are offering new programs that fit a rapidly changing world and most importantly, “who you are”.

What You Study Matters

In Your Future is Calling I talk about your choice of degrees, careers and colleges. You need to start these decisions with “who you are”. If your degree and career does not satisfy you, money will not compensate you for being miserable everyday. Doing what satisfies you trumps everything else. Given this bedrock starting point, your choice of college, career and major have a big impact on your future. Here we are exploring the major that you pick to study.

  Buzz Today Source: College Degrees with Worst Return on Investment

Fine Arts

Artists are respected, revered and celebrated. Here are three jobs commonly held by workers with a fine arts degree:

Median Salary: $48,401
30-Year Earnings: $2,854,689
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 75%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 22%

Median Salary: $47,753
30-Year Earnings: $2,816,470
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 74%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 22%

Median Salary: $37,819
30-Year Earnings: $2,230,563
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 58%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 17%

There are several important things that you need to take from the data in BUZZ Today. The first thing we want to look at is the headline:  “Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment”. The ROI question has to be examined relative to other investment alternatives. As Warren Buffett has stated, the best investment you can make is in yourself. He is right. The annual rate of return on 10 year US government bonds is less than 2% per year.

The thing to note in the BUZZ Today is that even these “worst” investment options represent a significantly higher return than government bonds. In addition, no one can take your education away from you. It is yours forever.

The other thing to note in BUZZ Today, is how sensitive the financial return is to the tuition paid to earn the degree. In the example, uses private vs. public to make the point of the cost of the tuition. But your return is not merely about your decision to go to a public university rather than a private university. There are many additional factors that affect how much you end up actually paying to earn your degree. For detailed information on what those are and how you can impact them read Your Future is Calling.


College Grads May Be Stuck in Low-Skill Jobs (from the Wall Street Journal)

It is little wonder that you may be confused about getting your degree.  Headlines like those above, combined with the continuous din about student loan debt, add confusion rather than clarity.   It doesn’t help that this particular piece appeared in the highly respected Wall Street Journal.   Buzz TodaySource:  The Wall Street Journal:  Better-educated workers still face far better job prospects than their less-educated counterparts. The unemployment rate for Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree was 3.8% in February (2013), compared with 7.9% for those with just a high school diploma. College-educated employees also tend to earn more and advance more quickly even when they are in fields that don’t require a degree. 

Don’t be confused. Student debt is a real issue. The federal government is the lender of the guaranteed student loans.  Interest rates on such loans are relatively high and those interest rates are potentially going to double this summer if Congress does not take action to hold the current rate.  In addition, federal student loans are virtually forever since they cannot be discharged under bankruptcy laws.

But we will examine student loans in detail on another day.  For now we need to look at the headline of the article and the data in that article as reported in the BUZZ Today here.

Under any scenario, what the data shows is that earning a degree gives you a far better shot at having a job, advancing more quickly and earning more over a lifetime career than not having a degree.

These results are critical to your decision about whether to get a degree or not get a degree.  From this basic decision, your challenge is to make wise choices about what to study, how your studies relate to specific careers, where to go to school, how to get the most favorable tuition, how to finance your education.  For the data on these important decisions you need an easy to understand road map about where to get that important data and how to use it.  For that, I recommend that you go directly to “Your Future is Calling”.