Is Starting College and Not Finishing Really That Bad?
Source: Hamilton Project (Brookings Institution)
Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, according to today’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about the same average pace of job creation over the prior year. All of the job increases were in the private service-providing sector; employment edged down in both the goods-production sector, which includes construction and manufacturing, and in government. This reflects a longer-term pattern: over the prior year, employment in the service sector has increased by almost 2 million jobs, while employment in the goods-producing sector has been essentially flat, and public employment has declined. Also in May, the unemployment rate edged up to 7.6 percent. The broadest measure of employment—the employment-to-population ratio—was 58.6 percent, the same as a year ago. It has remained roughly at the same level since late-2009.
These latest jobs and unemployment statistics, however, do not tell the full story of how all Americans are faring in today’s economic climate, as workers with more education continue to be employed at higher rates and earn more than their less-educated counterparts. Indeed, as previous Hamilton Project work has shown, the rates of return to a two- or four-year college degree are high. In recent years, however, there has been increasing concern about students who begin two- and four-year colleges but fail to complete a degree—particularly in light of the large increase in student debt and growing talk about the high costs of college.
In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines whether starting college is worth it for students who fail to complete a degree. Our startling finding is that it is: these students’ lifetime earnings are roughly $100,000 higher (in present value) than that of their peers who ended their education after high school. Measured by the rate of return, getting some college is an investment with a return that exceeds the historical return on practically any conventional investment, including stocks, bonds, and real estate. (Of course, the return to some college is considerably smaller than the return to finishing either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.) We also continue to explore the nation’s “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs needed to return to pre-recession employment levels.
Source: American Psychological Association
Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus, according to the latest Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors survey of counseling center directors. Seventy percent of directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems on their campus has increased in the past year.
The survey also found that:
- Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent).
- On average, 24.5 percent of clients were taking psychotropic medications. However, 19 percent of directors report the availability of psychiatric services on their campus is inadequate.
- Directors report that 21 percent of counseling center students present with severe mental health concerns, while another 40 percent present with mild mental health concerns.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. DOD Financial Management: Significant Improvements Needed in Efforts to Address Improper Payment Requirements. GAO-13-227, May 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654535.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/654439
2. College Textbooks: Students Have Greater Access to Textbook Information. GAO-13-368, June 6.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655067.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/654840
3. Managing for Results: Leading Practices Should Guide the Continued Development of Performance.gov. GAO-13-517, June 6.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655061.pdf
Source: Knowledge@Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)
Japan is recovering from far more than the tsunami, the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the global financial crisis: It is also attempting to bounce back from two decades of economic lethargy. The country faced a similar period in the 1920s and early 1930s, leading Japan’s then-finance minister to loosen monetary policy, drive down the yen and increase spending. The economy quickly reversed course. Today, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking similar steps. This special report examines the implications of Abe’s new economic policies and analyzes two problem areas — finance and higher education.
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. VA Education Benefits: VA Needs to Improve Program Management and Provide More Timely Information to Students. GAO-13-338, May 22.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654793.pdf
1. Government Efficiency and Effectiveness: Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication through Enhanced Performance Management and Oversight, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
GAO-13-590T, May 22.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654610.pdf
2. Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Observations on States’ Role, Liabilities at DOD and Hardrock Mining Sites, and Litigation Issues, by David Trimble, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-13-633T, May 22.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654791.pdf
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
This morning, the New York Fed released its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for 2013 Q1. The report uses the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel to show that outstanding household debt declined approximately $110 billion (about 1 percent) from the previous quarter. The drop was due in large part to a reduction in housing-related debt and credit card balances. Meanwhile, delinquency rates for each form of consumer debt declined, with the overall ninety-plus day delinquency rate dropping from 6.3 percent to 6.0 percent.
One of the unique aspects of the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, which is itself based on Equifax credit data, is the detail we obtain for each kind of household debt. This quarter, we have taken advantage of the geographic information available in the data set and are introducing a set of maps of our student loan data, which indicate regional variation in several dimensions of student debt. They depict:
- Student loan borrowers as a share of the population. The population with active student loan debts, or “SL borrowers,” as a share of the population with a credit record varies substantially over space. For example, in Hawaii, less than 12 percent of people with a credit report have student debt, while in the District of Columbia over 25 percent do.
- Student loan balances per SL borrower. Student indebtedness is significant for SL borrowers in virtually all states. Educational indebtedness per SL borrower ranges from a low of just under $21,000 in Wyoming to a high of over $28,000 in Maryland. Again, Washington, D.C., stands out: the average SL borrower there owes over $40,000. In general, we find SL-borrower debt levels are highest in California and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
- Percent of balance ninety-plus days delinquent. Delinquency rates show a distinct regional pattern, with states in the south and southwest having generally higher rates than those in the north. The lowest delinquency rate is South Dakota, at just over 6.5 percent, while the highest is in West Virginia, at nearly 18 percent.
Student loan indebtedness and delinquency continue to generate intense interest and we look forward to sharing data and perspectives that help define the scope of this important issue.
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education
From article: 4 Public-College Presidents Pass $1-Million Mark in Pay
Public higher education’s million-dollar club just got bigger. Four public-college presidents earned more than $1-million in 2011-12, up from three a year earlier, a Chronicle analysis has found. The median total compensation for public-college leaders rose to $441,392, an increase of 4.7 percent from 2010-11.
The top earner was Graham B. Spanier, who received $2.9-million. Mr. Spanier, who was fired in 2011 in connection with a child-sex-abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach, received most of his money in severance pay and deferred compensation, which is money he earned during his 16-year presidency that was not previously paid out.
The Chronicle’s analysis included 212 college leaders at 191 public institutions.
More Is More or More Is Less? Parental Financial Investments during College
Source: American Sociological Review
Evidence shows that parental financial investments increase college attendance, but we know little about how these investments shape postsecondary achievement. Two theoretical frameworks suggest diametric conclusions. Some studies operate from a more-is-more perspective in which children use calculated parental allocations to make academic progress. In contrast, a more-is-less perspective, rooted in a different model of rational behavior, suggests that parental investments create a disincentive for student achievement. I adjudicate between these frameworks, using data from nationally representative postsecondary datasets to determine what effect financial parental investments have on student GPA and degree completion. The findings suggest seemingly contradictory processes. Parental aid decreases student GPA, but it increases the odds of graduating—net of explanatory variables and accounting for alternative funding. Rather than strategically using resources in accordance with parental goals, or maximizing on their ability to avoid academic work, students are satisficing: they meet the criteria for adequacy on multiple fronts, rather than optimizing their chances for a particular outcome. As a result, students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school but dial down their academic efforts. I conclude by highlighting the importance of life stage and institutional context for parental investment.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
2. Superfund: EPA Should Take Steps to Improve Its Management of Alternatives to Placing Sites on the National Priorities List. GAO-13-252, April 9.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653647.pdf
Source: Brookings Institution
For the past few decades, it has been widely argued that a college degree is a prerequisite to entering the middle class in the United States. Study after study reminds us that higher education is one of the best investments we can make, and President Obama has called it “an economic imperative.” We all know that, on average, college graduates make significantly more money over their lifetimes than those with only a high school education. What gets less attention is the fact that not all college degrees or college graduates are equal. There is enormous variation in the so-called return to education depending on factors such as institution attended, field of study, whether a student graduates, and post-graduation occupation. While the average return to obtaining a college degree is clearly positive, we emphasize that it is not universally so. For certain schools, majors, occupations, and individuals, college may not be a smart investment. By telling all young people that they should go to college no matter what, we are actually doing some of them a disservice.
Source: National Center on Education and the Economy
Today NCEE released What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?, a study of the English Literacy and Mathematics required for success in the first year of community college. During a day-long meeting with key education and policy leaders, NCEE will discuss the results of the study and its implications for community college reform, school reform, teacher education, the common core state standards, and vocational education and the workplace.
State U Online (PDF)
Source: New America Foundation
Online learning has become a permanent fixture of postsecondary education—approximately 32 percent of all postsecondary students in the United States took at least one online course in 2010. Many for-profit colleges have jumped at the opportunity online learning provides to reach more students. The University of Phoenix, with more than 300,000 online students, is now the largest accredited university in America.
But the nation’s public higher-education system—the twoyear colleges and four-year universities that educate the large majority of all college students—has been visibly slower to embrace the potential of online credentialing. Many of these institutions were founded with a mission to serve their citizens, including those unable to attend in residence. Traditionally, this was done through a combination of extension services, correspondence courses, and other means. Yet even as the technological means to achieve this goal reaches new heights, many public universities are shying away from the challenge.
At a time when educational credentials are more important to individual and collective prosperity than ever before, students need online courses and degree programs that are effective, affordable, and grounded in public values. This report includes an in-depth analysis of how public universities are contending with the challenges and opportunities of online education. It finds that state institutions have tremendous untapped potential to grow enrollment, increase revenues, contribute to economic development, and fulfill their historical missions—if they adopt a series of policies that a few innovative states and public higher-education systems have already pioneered.
To understand why more public institutions haven’t moved as quickly into the virtual world, it helps to begin with similar historical attempts to provide distance education. While the technologies of online learning are new, the underlying conflicts and challenges of serving students at a distance are anything but—indeed, some of them are older than the nation itself.
Federally Funded Research and Development Centers Employed More Than 3,000 Postdoctoral Researchers in 2010
Source: National Science Foundation
According to a recent report released by the National Science Foundation, 22 of the nation’s 39 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) employed 3,011 postdocs in 2010, the year the latest data are available.
Three out of every four postdocs employed in the FFRDCs in 2010 were men. Foreign nationals on temporary visas made up 60 percent of all postdocs employed in FFRDCs. Men constituted a higher percentage of foreign nationals than of U.S. citizens and permanent residents–78 percent versus 72 percent.
Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents, 75 percent were reported to be white and 14 percent were reported to be Asian. The remainder were Hispanic at 4 percent, black or African American at 1 percent, and other races or of unknown race or ethnicity were reported at 5 percent.
Overall, 75 percent of all postdocs employed in FFRDCs were working in a science field, and another 23 percent were working in an engineering field. The most frequently reported science fields were physics and astronomy at 31 percent; followed by chemistry at 18 percent; biological sciences at 8 percent; and earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences at 8 percent.
FFRDCs received approximately $16.8 billion dollars in federal expenditures in fiscal year 2010. Included in this amount is more than $1 billion in federal expenditures from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In addition to scientific research and analysis, many of the FFRCDs provide training opportunities for the country’s aspiring researchers and scientists through postdoctoral appointments.
Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market
Source: Economic Policy Institute
Our examination of the IT labor market, guestworker flows, and the STEM education pipeline finds consistent and clear trends suggesting that the United States has more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations:
- The flow of U.S. students (citizens and permanent residents) into STEM fields has been strong over the past decade, and the number of U.S. graduates with STEM majors appears to be responsive to changes in employment levels and wages.
- For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.
- In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations. These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry.
Source: Journal of College Counseling
Resident assistants (RAs) can serve as important suicide prevention gatekeepers. The purpose of the study was to determine if training improved RAs’ crisis communications skills and suicide-related knowledge and to determine if the knowledge elements predicted crisis communications skills. New RAs showed significant improvement in all areas from pretest to posttest, whereas returning RAs showed no significant increase in any of the areas. None of the knowledge areas predicted communications skills for either group.
Suicide is a significant problem in the college population (Kisch, Leino, & Silverman, 2005; Westefeld et al., 2006). It is the second leading cause of death among the U.S. college-age population (National Mental Health Association & the Jed Foundation, 2002), and it is estimated that there are 100 to 200 suicide attempts for every suicide completion (American Association of Suicidology, 2004). The National College Health Assessment conducted in Spring 2008 (N= 80,121) illustrated widespread suicide risk factors in the U.S. college population (American College Health Association [ACHA], 2009). Depression was the fourth ranked health problem during the past school year as self-reported by respondents. Furthermore, 36.7% reported feeling frequently overwhelmed, about 62% reported feeling hopeless, and 43% reported feeling so depressed at times that it was difficult to function (ACHA, 2009). It is clear that anxiety, depression, and other risk factors for suicide are present in current college students. More specific to suicide, 1.3% of participants reported that they had attempted suicide at least once during the past school year, and 9.0% of participants reported that they had seriously considered suicide (ACHA, 2009). Clearly, suicide prevention for college students is important.
Unfortunately, a service gap exists between the students who could benefit from counseling and those who seek it (Kadison & DiGeronimo, 2004; Kisch et al., 2005). On average, 10.4% of the students at campuses with counseling centers use the counseling center (Gallagher, 2009). According to Kisch et al. (2005), 80% to 90% of college students who die by suicide did not seek services at their college counseling center.
Gatekeeper training has been identified as a key strategy in suicide prevention in youth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1992; Chagnon, Houle, Marcoux, & Renaud, 2001; Gould & Kramer, 2001). The resident assistants (RAs) who live and work within the residence halls on college and university campuses are critical targets for gatekeeper training. However, little is known about best practices in training RAs (or other gatekeepers) to serve as a safety net for at-risk students. In the present study, we examined a brief suicide prevention curriculum provided to the RAs employed within a large university residential life system, to better understand their potential role as gatekeepers in campus suicide prevention.