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College reality

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In a few weeks tens of thousands of young Americans will leave home and begin the “college experience”. As they descend on campuses across the country, they will be greeted by impressive buildings, acclaimed alumni, elaborate social functions, and luxury hotel-like accommodations. In addition to getting used to their new “homes”, these newly minted adults will be asked to select majors that prepare them for post college employment.

Interestingly, the university structure and incentives may not always be aligned with what is best for students.

Universities are broken into departments. Each department is responsible for running a profitable business or demonstrating that there is enough demand for its offerings that it would be foolish for the university to close the department. Departments like engineering generally have large research budgets, so they are less concerned about student enrollment than departments like the humanities and social sciences that have fewer research dollars.

As might be expected, the departments with fewest research dollars generally work hardest to convince students to select majors within their purview. Until 15-20 years ago, this model worked well, because it was possible to obtain high quality employment with a wide variety of university degrees.

Technology has improved access to information so much that many jobs related to compiling, organizing, and disseminating information have already been or are being eliminated. Careers that have been hardest hit are law, social sciences, and the humanities.

Since there are fewer job opportunities for people with these degrees, many college graduates find it difficult to procure jobs that pay a premium over what was available to them before they attended college.

This shift creates a dilemma for the parents of a child who did not develop a proclivity for math in high school. Does the parent have the resources to send the child to college so he/she can graduate without debt and go on to a job that he/she most likely could have obtained without attending college? Is it better to consider a high paying trade like plumbing or electricity, rather than expending money on college? Or is it wiser to encourage the child to go to a community college and learn math, so he/she has the skills to obtain a college degree with higher earning potential?

It is a tough decision, but is something that should be discussed before a family blindly spends large sums of money on a college education that does little to improve a child’s long term earning potential.

College may no longer be necessary, high quality K-12 education is

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Even though psychologists have been talking about a lack of correlation between college degrees, course grades, and job performance for decades, most companies continue to rely on these credentials and marks to make hiring decisions.

In the past couple of years, however, a few companies have broken rank. Google, a Fortune 500 technology firm, and Ernst and Young U.K., part of one of the world’s largest accounting firms, have publicly announced they no longer require college degrees for employment.

Google’s chairman said the company is more interested in an applicant’s skills, ability to think in a logical way, work ethic, breadth of experience, public speaking abilities, and creativity. Ernst and Young said they are interested in talented individuals regardless of background.

This transformation is due, in large part, to free access of information through the Internet. Over five years ago Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft, suggested that traditional university education, especially at fixed-place institutions will no longer be necessary, since most of the content will be available online for free.

The college experience is under additional pressure, because college costs are rising at a rate higher than inflation and a college degree no longer guarantees a solid middle-class income. In fact, the College Risk Report (collegeriskreport.com) suggests that the rate of return on most four-year college degrees is worse than 2-year degrees and in some instances worse than no degree at all.

There is a small group of students who receive full ride scholarships to attend college. For these students, the costs are so low that the four-year degree makes financial sense.

Some people assert that college is an excellent place to make contacts. This may be a valid claim for students who are outgoing and takes advantage of all the clubs, speakers, professors, and research opportunities available at a school, but is probably not the case for most students who meet few people outside their dorms and classes.

Without a traditional college education, strong K-12 schooling is imperative since this will be where kids learn basic skills, hone public speaking abilities, refine creative thinking, and develop logical problem solving capabilities. Work ethic can be developed at school, home or in extra-curricular activities like sports. Breadth of experience can occur at school or through outside clubs and activities.

This new employment paradigm suggests we need to worry more about high quality K-12 education and less about college.

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose China For Your MBA

Business Because – Christian Robinson

““China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.” Though the iconic French general and statesman Charles De Gaulle passed almost half a century ago, this reductive epithet continues to echo from the general Western population. China is still a big country and it is, indeed, inhabited by many Chinese. But an increasing amount of international students are flocking to its shores, as well as those of the autonomous region of Hong Kong, attracted by everything from scholarships to start-ups. Here are 10 reasons why students are foregoing more obvious choices to venture East:”(more)

Why are we so complacent about our skills for the future?

The Telegraph – Chris Jones

“Making predictions can be a fool’s game. We don’t know what’s going to happen next week, let alone what our world will look like in five years, or 50. Still, history teaches us to expect change. Take the workplace as an example. The jobs that were a staple a century ago no longer exist, and many jobs people have now weren’t around a decade ago. Yet new research from the City & Guilds Group into skills confidence across the UK, US, India and South Africa found that three quarters of us are confident our jobs will exist in a decade. More than nine in 10 British employees are confident in their own skills and productivity, and only 27 per cent and 17 per cent respectively are worried about the impact of immigration and globalisation on their job prospects.”(more)

Careers talks ‘boost future earnings’ – research

BBC – Sean Coughlan

“Careers education given to pupils in secondary school can be linked to higher earnings in adult life, according to researchers. A study published in the Journal of Education and Work suggests that better-informed teenagers are likely to make more advantageous career choices…Where there were “higher levels of employer contacts, in the form of careers talks with outside speakers”, researchers found that this was linked to higher returns in the labour market. They concluded that getting careers information and meeting employers in school had a “meaningful and statistically significant impact on later earnings”.”(more)