Where You’re 18 Times More Likely to Find a Job

Having a college degree can give you a leg up on those with only a high school diploma, but just how much of an advantage depends on where you go.

Some of the widest gaps between job openings for workers who have college educations and those who don’t are in central California, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

In the Bakersfield, Calif., metro area, there were 18 times the number of job openings for college grads versus those with high school diplomas or less in 2010.

One of the main problems there is that the residents have little education so they don’t have many opportunities. Most of the jobs are in agriculture or oil production.

“A high school degree is no longer going to cut it,” said Richard Chapman, head of the development organization, noting that companies are looking for skilled workers. “The worst thing is to have a job opening and no one to fill it.”

The Brookings report analyzed the educational requirements for new jobs in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. It found that places with a greater concentration of college graduates have better job prospects for both those with degrees and those who just finished high school. (Read more.)

Via Tami Luhby @CNNMoney.

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More California Community Colleges Stop Offering Federal Loans

A small but growing number of California community colleges have stopped participating in the federal loan program, cutting off these borrowing options for students out of fear that rising student loan default rates could lead to sanctions.

Some 16 colleges have stopped disbursing the loans, and at least one more school – Bakersfield College – is considering ending its participation in the program. That makes California home to more students without access to federal loans than any other state, according to data collected by the Institute for College Access and Success, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

College officials say they stopped participating in federal loans because they were worried that an increase in student loan defaults would jeopardize their ability to offer federal grants. Colleges where students default on federal loans at high rates for several years in a row stand to lose eligibility for federal grants under sanctions issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

But some advocacy groups and student loan experts say the colleges are exaggerating the risk of sanctions and are unnecessarily pushing students toward more expensive and riskier borrowing options. They say colleges should work to improve their default rates rather than cut off federal loans for students.

“The community colleges in California are at virtually no risk to losing access to Pell grants due to default rates,” said Debbie Cochrane, research director for the Institute for College Access and Success. “Colleges often overstate the risk of being sanctioned due to default rates because they don’t understand that there are protections to avoid those sanctions.”

Sandy Baum, senior fellow at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University, said students who can’t borrow federal loans will use their credit cards or go to private loan markets, where interest rates are higher and the consequences of default are more severe.

“If their default rates are too high, they should figure out why and do something about that, but depriving students of access to those loans is not the best solution,” said Baum, who is also an independent higher education policy analyst. (Read more.)

Via Erica Perez, Why CTE Blog.

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Innovative Strategies to Raise Completion Rates

Growing up in a trailer park in Florida with a father in prison and a mother who was a high school dropout, Dawn Ginnetti never considered going to college. In fact, she barely made it through high school.

Today, after a few setbacks along the way, Ginnetti, 36, is an honor student at the elite Smith College in Massachusetts. She was one of just 30 students admitted to Smith, on a full scholarship, through the Ada Comstock Scholars program for nontraditional students. She’s majoring in American studies and plans to go for a doctorate.

Ginnetti’s career goal: to teach in a community college, because it was at Valencia Collegein Florida where her life turned around.

“Choosing to enroll in Valencia College was the best decision I ever made, hands down,” Ginnetti said. All the personal attention, tutoring sessions, peer mentoring and other resources there “were hugely helpful for me,” she said. “I didn’t know how to write a research paper before Valencia.”

Ginnetti’s story illustrates the value of some of the strategies community colleges are using to help students succeed.

Other successful approaches cited by Rachel Singer, vice president for community college relations and applied research at Achieving the Dream, include mandatory orientation sessions and student success courses for freshmen and self-paced math modules focusing on individual students’ needs rather than lengthy developmental courses.

“Making that first semester really important will lead to improved retention rates, and ultimately, you will end up with higher graduation rates,” Singer said. <Read more.>

Via Ellie Ashford, Community College Times.

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Education Poll Finds Consensus among Americans on K-12 Learning Standards, Closing Achievement Gap

Charter schools, free public education for the children of undocumented immigrants and work readiness among college graduates are among the top education issues on which the nation is split, according to researchers behind anew poll released this week by Gallup, Inc. and Phil Delta Kappa International.

But there is widespread agreement on the need to close the so-called achievement gap, and general support for the Common Core Standards that are meant to bring more uniformity to academic expectations in the nation’s public schools, according to the poll, formally known as the “PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” and themed “A Nation Divided.”

At a panel discussion Wednesday at Gallup World Headquarters regarding the poll — now in its 44th year — Dr. Shane Lopez, Senior Scientist in Residence at Gallup, said one of the findings that stood out involved what he described as divergent perceptions of work readiness among the nation’s college graduates.

The finding came in a series of questions that asked if today’s high school dropout, today’s high school graduate and today’s college graduate, respectively, are ready for the world of work.

“When we asked that question, I thought people are going to say high school dropouts are not ready for work, high school graduates maybe are ready, and college graduates, everyone’s going to say they’re ready,” Lopez said. “But only half of Americans said college graduates are ready for work. That’s a problem.”

The answers to poll question to which Lopez was referring are actually a bit more nuanced.

Polled individuals were asked to indicate on a five-point scale – with 5 indicating that you “strongly agree” and 1 indicating that you “strongly disagree” – whether today’s college graduate is ready for the world of work.

Fourteen percent responded with a 5; and 40 percent responded with a 4, which, when taken together as agreement, totals 54 percent, which is somewhat higher than “half.” <Read more.>

Via Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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Some Community Colleges Are Prioritizing Enrollment

Community colleges have long stressed the open-door concept, but budgetary pressures—along with the need to better manage enrollment growth and ensure students are on a path to completion—have forced some colleges to put limits on access.

California is expected to set a statewide policy on enrollment priorities for the first time for all community colleges, which would reward students who make progress.

The new rules, to be submitted to theCalifornia Community Colleges Board of Governors in September, are based onrecommendations by the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force. If approved, the new rules would take effect in fall 2014.

“This would be a big change for the system,” said Paul Feist, vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges system.

Rewarding Success

The enrollment priorities would “encourage successful student behavior” by giving priority to:

  • continuing students in good standing who are making progress toward a certificate, degree, transfer or career advancement objective
  • first-time students who participate in orientation and assessment and develop an informed education plan
  • students who begin addressing any basic skills deficiencies in their first year

Students would lose enrollment priority if they fail to follow their education plan, are placed on academic probation for two consecutive terms, fail to declare a program of study by the end of their third term or accrue 100 units (not including basic skills and English as a second language courses). <Read more.>

Via Ellie Ashford, Community College Times.

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