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A Blog from New America's Higher Education Initiative

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Syllabus: Week of June 10, 2013

Published:  June 14, 2013
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Welcome to the Syllabus, a guide that provides insight into what’s happening in higher education.

Read:

Going to College is Worth it – Even if You Drop Out, Dylan Matthews
The Washington Post

There was a time when high school was rare and college was reserved for the elite. In today’s world, the value of education is vastly different. Some sort of postsecondary education is an expectation for most. It seems that one must attend and graduate college for entrée into the middle class. Due to stagnating wages and rising college prices, however, many have questioned whether attending college is a financially sound decision. According to researchers at The Hamilton Project the answer is “yes.” Their recent study shows that only 58 percent of college students enrolled in 2004 received a degree by 2010. Nevertheless, those students who did not graduate still earned more income than those who never enrolled in college. In addition, college dropouts make $8,000 more than high school graduates. This figure includes factoring in the cost of the student’s additional education. Matthews concludes by stating, “Dropping out of college is unquestionably a worse economic bet than finishing it. But the evidence suggests that starting and not finishing is much better than never starting at all.”

Listen:

Are There Jobs Out There for Recent Grads?
NPR Tell Me More

One of the biggest concerns for recent college graduates is whether or not they will obtain a fair paying job after spending countless hours and thousands of dollars on higher education. Recent numbers indicate 175,000 new jobs were obtained last month. However, the number of unemployed individuals increased by 7.6 percent. This is because more people entered the labor force. If you’re a recent college grad, you’re still in better shape than those who do not hold a college degree. Surveys show that the salaries of offers for new graduates are up about 5 percent. Additionally, college grads have an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent as compared with high school dropouts who have an unemployment rate of over 11 percent.

Discuss:

Minn. Program Will Offer a Tuition Break Based on Scores on a Standardized Test, Dan Berrett
The Chronicle of Higher Education

In order to motivate students Minnesota State University at Moorhead created a program called “Up2U” that encourages their students to academically achieve and complete college by providing financial incentives through a transfer tuition reduction. In order to receive this deduction the following conditions must be met: 1) The student must enroll full-time in the fall at the college and maintain a GPA of 2.0 for their first four semesters; and 2) During their fourth semester the student will take the new version of the Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA, which is a standardized test of critical thinking. If students have the same GPA and score well on the assessments they will see their tuition reduced by three-quarters of the full cost. Those opposed to “Up2U” are concerned the program will encourage “teaching to the test” and will alter the current curriculum.

Higher Ed Watch readers, what do you think? Is one test a good predictor of a student’s understanding of the material and critical thinking abilities? Given that the Collegiate Learning Assessment is a test of critical thinking, how could it alter curriculum? Would it even be possible to teach to this test?

 

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