Monday, January 23, 2017

Ways To Chart That Post-College Paycheck

Through the current state of human genome mapping, we can now take a small test tube of blood and accurately predict someone's height, weight, age, hair and eye color -- and even what her face looks like.

If biology has progressed that far, is it really possible to project what a college student might make in the job market -- before her first day of freshman orientation? Well, no, not exactly. But it is possible to hit some projected ranges.

It remains a truism that college graduates make $1million more than those who stopped education after high school. But drill down into such data as from the U.S. Census Bureau and there are huge variations both by subject and across majors. Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce has a refined study on income potential.

But there are others. For instance, the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project parses data by percentile, so that, for example, economics majors' earnings are about three times as large at the 90th percentile compared with the 10th percentile. Where you count economic beans after college matters -- and thus there is stunningly greater value in degrees from such schools as the University of Michigan than your local commuter college. Thus one can arrive at a much narrower range building off university quality.

There also is a data farm called Educate to Career, which ranks about 1,200 universities and colleges -- showing, for instance, starting salary averages by major within those schools. The median social work degree grad starts around $44k, while the median engineer begins in the $80s.

Readers can drill down to find out, for example, the average SAT score at Carlton College, and that the school produced 34 computer science grads in recent numbers.

The ETC College Ranking Index is full of interesting metrics used in its algorithms. Some of the metrics include: Major, weighted against national norms; percentage of persons employed within one year of graduation (weighted on an occupational trend basis); and the all-important net cost of in-state tuition. Using Purdue University as an example, one can learn the four-year graduation rate is 37.5%, the "net" annual price of tuition is $5,414 and the average engineering grad starts out at $47,500.

The ETC index has an interesting take on why Ivy League schools do not fare as well as other top universities. But the bottom line is that the index can help identify schools providing a quality education with proven career placement at a lower net cost than at some of the elite universities.

-- Mike Ryan

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

California Dreaming

Have you gotten tired of Midwest winters? Are you thinking four years of shorts and flip-flops at a California college is sounding like more your style?

Get in line.

California universities have long attracted young women and men, but we have just passed a significant milestone—a number as relevant as 61 was to baseball—before steroids helped shatter the single-season home-run record.

UCLA has received 102,177 applications for the Class of 2021, the first time an American university has received more than 100,000 freshman applications--each with a $70 application fee unless waived.

Do the math. That's a staggering amount of competition for what will be somewhere around 6,500 acceptances.

Cal State-Long Beach, home of mascot Prospector Pete, got nearly 62,000 freshman applications, and USC received almost 52,000 from prospective Trojan freshmen.

And this is in a state cutting back on education budgets.

So while you and your parents are preparing your college app packages and thinking about going West, have you assembled all the details, filled out the questionnaires, answered all the "optional" interrogatories, checked all your spelling and grammar and written a 1-in-100,000 college essay?

If not, get cracking! Those California beaches require more than a little legwork.

--Mike Ryan

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Take The Team Approach To A Good College Fit

Aristotle was an early proponent of "learning by doing". Consider a hot topic in education these days called PBL, project-based learning.

Yes, the book is still part of the U.S. History curriculum, but increasingly teachers are assigning say, a World War 1 documentary to a class team. PBLs are knocking down the barrier between book-learning and post-academic real-life projects.

It's time to consider a PBL as an effective method to grow big-schooler knowledge about the college hunt.

There is so much more information about college classes, professors, application tricks, essay tips, undergraduate cultures and more than there was just 5 years ago.

It seem to me that it is time for high-schoolers to recruit a cadre of college-eager peers, say four or six like-minded students who agree to set up a calendar of obvious tasks and regularly meet for progress reports.The group's goal would be to guide each other through the rush-to-apply process. In K-12 education, PBL has evolved to address core content through rigorous, hands-on learning. The PBL skills learned seem a perfect fit on college prep, whether discovering the quirkiest essay prompts of the University of Chicago, why Boston College kids refuse to use lunchroom trays or how Oberlin students can hang a Picasso in their dorm rooms.

Bonus points to inviting members to your PBL group from other schools who will no doubt have a fresh perspective on what's important.

-- Mike Ryan