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Is college the best option?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


With all the changes in the workplace, the adage that a university degree always provides the best employment options is no longer true.

Sometimes a college education is the answer and other times a trade career makes more sense.

If you like math and/or science and have an interest in accounting, engineering, or nursing a university education is an excellent option. There is so much demand for graduates in these fields that you do not need to attend a high profile private university to have job offers. Also, the salaries are such that students can pay off loans quickly.

If you excel in math and/or science, but you can’t imagine a career in accounting, engineering, or nursing a university education could still be wise decision if you are willing to double major. In this case, the accounting, engineering, or nursing degree would serve as an insurance policy in the case you are unable to find employment in the field you want to pursue.

If science or math is not your cup of tea, college may not be the best financial option. While some subjects are fascinating, employment realities make them poor degree choices. In sociology, for example, there are only 2400 jobs, so employers can demand graduate degrees from the most prestigious (high cost) universities. Other majors, like elementary education, have plenty of job openings, but offer low pay.

As a result, it is wise to ask some questions. What is the median pay for graduates in the field? How many jobs are available? Do I have the financial means to cover the cost of the education? If I cannot get a job in the field I study, what will I do? If I take out a loan and am not able to get a job, how will you make the payments?

If the pay is low or you do not have a way of supporting yourself or if you cannot get a job in the field, a trade career may be a better option. Electricians, plumbers, and aviation mechanics make very good salaries – much better than many college graduates. These careers require no post-secondary education and allow early entry into the workforce which means there is more long-term earning potential.

As a result, it is important to approach post secondary education in a rational way. Think critically about your interests and abilities and remember a college education only makes sense when it gives you financial freedom.


Million Student March fights for debt-free college

The Washington Post – Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

“Students at 110 college campuses across the country planned to walk out of class Thursday to march for an affordable education. The aptly named Million Student March has been months in the making, inspired by national campaigns to boost minimum wages, explained Beth Huang, a coordinator for the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), an initiative of a labor union and foundation-funded group called Jobs with Justice…“The march is about mobilizing students across the country to shape the national conversation about what college costs look like today, especially in an age of student debt, low wages and high tuition.””(more)

What Do We Value More: Young Kids Or Fast Food?

NPR Ed – Anya Kamenetz

“New York state recently announced an increase in the minimum wage for fast food workers, to $15 an hour. It’s the fruit of a three-year labor campaign. But there’s another group of workers out there that hasn’t had a real wage increase in decades. Right now, at preschool programs around the country, teachers are tapping infinite reserves of patience to keep the peace among children at various stages of development and need. They’re also providing meals, wiping noses and delivering a curriculum in math and reading that will get the kids ready for school. And there are hugs. Lots of hugs. A working parent like me would say these services are priceless. But according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, the economy values them between $8.63 and $20.99 per hour.”(more)

Healthcare, the Lost STEM Workforce Discussion

Change the Equation – Staff Writer

“STEM advocates beat the drums for more engineering and computer science talent, but the demand for STEM-savvy professionals in health care often fails to make it into the STEM discussion. Yet the healthcare industry is suffering from much—and perhaps more—of the talent shortage touted in other fields…STEM employers face challenges on two related fronts: rising demand for talent and an aging workforce…This also amounts to opportunity for young people: The median hourly wage of roughly $36 for STEM healthcare workers amounts to more than $74,000 a year. We need to get young people excited by computing and engineering, to be sure. But let’s work to make sure that some of them use those skills to improve healthcare outcomes for Americans.”(more)

Bilinguals see higher employability and wages

Voxxi – Laura Sanchez Ubanell

“What does it take to be successful in this digital and global world? Well, new research shows that getting hired for a job or earning higher wages has to do with something many younger generations are taking for granted. Turns out being equally fluent in more than one language leads to a higher salary and increased rates of employability. South Florida residents knew this long ago but a little scientific backing never hurt anyone…University of California Los Angeles Professor Patricia Gándara…is the co-author of a new book showcasing research on the performance of bilinguals…“Bilingual students show ability to focus and see things from different perspectives. Socially, they are more interested in other cultures and are comfortable with diversity. Those are skills that employers are telling us are needed in this economy.””(more)

Degree apprenticeships launched to boost hi-tech skills

BBC News – Judith Burns

“Young people will be able to gain a full honours degree while earning a wage and paying no fees, under a scheme backed by government and industry…The new Degree Apprenticeship qualifications will be taught in England from next September, starting in the digital and software field.”(more)