Archive for ‘community college’

January 9, 2013

Quick Links – Top-paying jobs for community college graduates; no mandate relief in New York; high salary for high school principal; plus more

by Grace

◊◊◊ Top ten jobs for two-year graduates (Community College Spotlight)

The top job is an air traffic controller,with a median 2010 salary of $108,040.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Council voted down 51 of 65 requests for help from local governments and school districts Tuesday, approving 14 suggestions for review of state mandates for special education and two other school issues….

The Council also recommended further study of a request to drop the state mandate for school districts with fewer than 1,000 pupils to have internal auditors on staff; and a state Education Department rule that mandates students get a “minimum number of minutes per week (seat time), by grade level and subject area.”

Requests to reduce the crippling pension costs were among those that were rejected.

They rejected requests to reduce the mandate to transport private school students; to reform teacher tenure and “last in, first out” work rules; to change the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law that keeps automatic teacher pay raises in place after a contract has expired; and to reduce the cost of public employee and teacher pensions. The requests included letting school districts create pension reserve funds, but that was rejected because it was an expansion of district authority, not a state mandate.

Also rejected were local government requests regarding the Wicks public works contracting law, health insurance contributions, restrictions on new unfunded mandates, tax cap exemptions, legal services for the poor and the MTA commuter tax.

Staff of the panel said that the rejected requests were beyond the scope and the authority of the council to decide because they were matters of state law, covered by local union contracts, or otherwise not a qualified candidate for elimination or reform.

I believe a constitutional amendment is needed to reduce pension costs, one of the most costly state mandates.  If that’s the case, the Council could have made that recommendation.  You can see a copy of the full report at the Mandate Relief Council site.

New York’s highest-salaried school principal, James Ruck, who has led Harrison High since 2006, will earn $245,728 this year, setting a new standard for a building administrator in the nation’s hottest market for education leaders.

Ruck, 68, the former schools superintendent at Suffolk County’s Sachem Central schools, augments his Harrison pay with an estimated $131,352 a year in pension payments, pushing his annual income to more than $377,000. Ruck, of Northport, intends to step down from Harrison in June

About 1,000 students attend Harrison High School.


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  ‘Motivation, Not IQ, Matters Most for Learning New Math Skills’ (Time)

But IQ does matter in overall math achievement levels.

… While some element of math achievement may be linked to natural inborn intelligence, when it comes to developing skills during high school, motivation and math study habits are much more important than IQ, according to a new study…

To their surprise, the researches found that IQ does not predict new learning — in other words, intelligence as measured by the IQ test does not indicate how likely students are to pick up new concepts or accumulate new skills. While children with higher IQs did have higher test scores from the beginning of the study, how much newmaterial the kids learned over the years was not related to how smart they were, at least not once demographic factors were taken into account.

“Students with high IQ have high math achievement and students with low IQ have low math achievement,” Murayama says. “But IQ does not predict any growth in math achievement. It determines the starting point.”

November 15, 2012

Virginia offers guaranteed admissions to universities for certain community college graduates

by Grace

One commonly recommended option for cutting college costs is to attend two years of community college before finishing up at a four-year school.  This option is even more attractive in those cases where colleges and universities offer guaranteed admission to graduates of selected community colleges.  Virginia is one place where this occurs.

Virginia’s community colleges offer students more than the opportunity to earn a degree or certificate. They provide a gateway to the Commonwealth’s four-year colleges and universities.

Through system-wide agreements, students who graduate from one of Virginias 23 community colleges with an associate’s degree and a minimum grade point average may obtain GUARANTEED admission to more than 20 of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities.

A student wishing to attend the University of Virginia, a selective school with a 33% admission rate and ranked #24 among national universities by US News & World Report, could save thousands of dollars and secure guaranteed admission by completing his first two years at Northern Virginia Community College.  The agreement between the two schools stipulates the following:

At least 54.0 credits from Northern Virginia Community College
At least 45.0 credits must be completed at University of Virginia
A cumulative GPA at Northern Virginia Community College of at least 3.4
No grade below a C in any Northern Virginia Community College course

The estimated cost savings over four years would be about $40,000
, assuming the student lived at home for the first two years.  Guaranteed admission to a selective university along with the savings make this a very attractive option.

Other locations have similar programs.  The UMass Amherst Community College Connection offers guaranteed admission for community college graduates who meet certain criteria, including a  cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.  The  California State University system gives priority admissions to community college graduates, but waiting lists have recently made this option less secure.  The University of California Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) has also been affected by funding that has failed to keep up with enrollment, even leading to the termination of the program at UC San Diego.

Advice for students considering first enrolling at a community college as a way to save money on their bachelor’s degree?  Do your research, including this recommendation from CNNMoney:
Ask the community college if they have any guaranteed transfer programs to four-year universities and what course and grade requirements you must meet to qualify. If they don’t have guaranteed programs, ask which universities have “articulation agreements” that will at least give you some guaranteed credits.
October 22, 2012

New web tool shows salary data broken out by college and major

by Grace

CollegeMeasures. org has a new web tool that allows you to compare salaries of recent college graduates, “with data that is broken out by college and major”.  College applicants making decisions about schools and fields of study should find this data helpful.

For example, a bachelor’s degree-holder from George Mason University who majored in computer engineering can expect to earn $59,000 in his or her first year after graduation, according to the College Measures website, which is 56 percent more than the state average in that discipline. On the other side of the earnings scale, the average George Mason graduate who studied biology earns $32,000, still 15 percent more than peers from other Virginia colleges.

So far, this resource is only available for colleges in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia, but plans to add more states are in the works.

CollegeMeasures.org 

Choice of college makes a difference.

I spent some time looking at various salary comparisons, imagining myself as the parent of a kid in the process of applying to college.  The data shows that for a mechanical engineering degree there was not a huge difference in salary outcomes among the various colleges, ranging from $53,441 to $50,917.  However, salaries of graduates from several different electrical engineering tech programs showed substantial differences, ranging from $42,223 to $25,141.  This is good stuff to know.

For graduates with a bachelor’s degree in economics the average salary was $39,298.  But the range was signficant, from $42,895 at the University of Virginia to $29,532 at Radford University.  Similar differences were reported for business majors, depending on the specific areas of study and on the schools.

Choice of major makes a difference.

Comparing associate’s degree programs at Northern Virginia Community College, the data averages showed that dental hygienists earned over $59,000 their first year after graduation and radiographers earned about $46,000, but childcare workers only made about $32,000.  Meanwhile, EMT Paramedic graduates earned almost $60,000.  While other factors besides yearly salary, such as hours worked and previous experience/age of graduate, must be taken into account when making comparisons, this basic salary data is a good starting point.

The individual student makes a difference,

Students, with varying interests, strengths, and levels of persistence self-select themselves to particular schools and majors.  For example, a student who lacks the skills to pursue a rigorous quantitative-based major at a top-ranked college has already established the groundwork for the path to particular areas of employment and salary.  Within any given field of study, a person who works hard and is strongly motivated by financial success will usually do better than a slacker.

Some shortcomings of the web tool

  • Only first-year salary data is available, which fails to capture long-term earnings potential.  (How will the salaries of the dental hygienist and the engineer compare in 10 or 20 years?)
  • Only graduates employed in that state are included.
  • Data for federal employees and members of the military is excluded.

Even with these shortcomings, checking this website could be a valuable wake-up call for students  unaware of the consequences of taking on large student debt.

Related:  College ROI results by PayScale for Bloomberg Businessweek (Cost of College)

July 31, 2012

Parents cut down on college spending while students take on more of the costs

by Grace

College students are borrowing a higher share of costs as their parents cut back on college spending.

A study released Monday by the country’s largest student lender shows parents spending less on college costs and students shouldering more of the burden, a trend that demonstrates how families are strategizing to cut college expenses….

Parents spent an average $5,955 on college from their income and savings, results showed. That was down from $6,664 a year earlier and $8,752 the year before. They also borrowed slightly more — $1,832 compared with $1,573 in the 2010-11 survey — although that was still less than they did two years ago.

Students took on more of the burden by digging deeper into their own funds. They spent an average $2,555 on college from their savings and income in the last academic year, up from $1,944 the previous year. But their spending wasn’t enough to make up for cutbacks by their parents.

All told, parents funded 37 percent of college costs through spending or borrowing, down from 47 percent two years ago. Students accounted for 30 percent; grants and scholarships footed 29 percent; and relatives and friends paid for 4 percent, according to the survey.

It looks as if reality has bumped up against the aspirations expressed by parents in this 2011 Pew Survey, Is College Worth It:

Given the rising cost of college, saving for a child’s education has become a daunting task for many parents. Being able to pay for a child’s education is an important long-term financial goal for most parents of school-aged children. Among all parents with at least one child under age 18, eight-in-ten say this is an extremely important (35%) or very important (45%) goal.

More students from upper-income families are commuting from home, foregoing the luxury of  going away to college.

Just over half of the students in the survey lived at home while they attended college this year, up almost 9 percent from a year ago. Most of that increase was accounted for by families with income of more than $100,000.

Community colleges are becoming a more popular option.

A shift toward two-year colleges also was evident for a second straight year, Sallie Mae said. Respondents included 29 percent who attended two-year public schools, up from 21 percent the previous year.

Related:  Families in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley adjust to rising college costs (Cost of College)

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June 28, 2012

Families in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley adjust to rising college costs

by Grace

The high cost of college is playing an increasingly important role in the way Lower Hudson Valley families go about choosing schools.  Students representing a wide range of economic demographics – from New Rochelle HS (41% students qualify for free lunch) to Fox Lane HS (only 5% qualify) – are choosing community college as a way to save money.

A high school guidance counselor sees more students who have decided to cut costs by giving up the dorm experience.

“If it’s their first time around, the price tag is shocking to parents,” said Cleary, noting that in recent years more of her school’s graduates live at home and commute to colleges within an hour’s drive to save money.

One student’s story offered a window into how the faltering economy may actually be causing families to make wiser choices.

New Rochelle High School graduate Chanelle Cawley considered attending Queens College and The Art Institute of New York.

“It was really expensive, basically, to pay that much money for my freshman year,” said Cawley, 17, who graduated Thursday from New Rochelle. She decided against the more expensive schools and opted to start at Westchester Community College, where she will study Web design.

“It’s a great program to start, and once I do my two years I can just go and transfer to a different school,” she said. “I’m planning on going to The Art Institute.”

Yearly tuition at The New York Art Institute (AI) is approximately $25,000, with housing costs adding about $20,000 more.  AI’s parent company, Education Management, is battling government charges it violated federal law in garnering billions of state and federal financial aid.  It is hoped that Cawley will look carefully at potential job prospects before she takes on student loans to study web design at this school.

July 14, 2011

Starting out at community college works out well for academically prepared students

by Grace

This might be good news for those who start their four-year degree program at a community college to save money.  If you’re among the 25-40% of community college students who actually make the transition to four-year colleges, your chances of degree attainment compare favorably with those students who started as freshmen there.  However, this is only true if you are similar to the rising juniors in terms of academic preparation and other characteristics.  The average community college student still lags behind in graduation rates.  Overall, these new study results are not too surprising.

… Authors Tatiana Melguizo, Gregory S. Kienzl and Mariana Alfonso present what may be good news for such students in their article, Comparing the Educational Attainment of Community College Transfer Students and Four-Year College Rising Juniors Using Propensity Score Matching Methods, which was published in theMay/June edition of The Journal of Higher Education. Using two separate statistical analyses, they found that transfer students were just as likely to succeed at four-year colleges as similar students who started at the studies four-year colleges.

The authors culled data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) on students who “graduated from high school on time, enrolled in college, and attained junior status at a four-year college either by enrolling only at a four-year college or by transferring from a community college.” The former group of rising juniors was then compared to the latter group of transfer students based on the average number of non-remedial credits they earned and their bachelor degree attainment rates.  Without controlling for any differences between the two groups, the authors found that rising juniors earned slightly more credits than transfer students and outpaced transfer students in degree attainment 73 percent to 60 percent.

Using a linear regression analysis, the authors controlled for observable, pre-existing differences between the two groups including differences in high school academic preparation, financial aid and work opportunities, county-level labor market characteristics and individual demographic characteristics. The results of the analysis showed no difference between the two groups in the average number of non-remedial credits earned and no difference in their overall rates of bachelor’s degree attainment. Similarly, a propensity score matching analysis which “allows obserservationally similar people to be compared,” revealed no differences between the outcome measures of the two groups. As such, the authors conclude that “community college transfer students earn equivalent numbers of non-remedial credits and attain baccalaureate degrees at similar rates than four-year rising juniors.” They go on to point out, however, that a relatively small percentage of community college students (25 to 40 percent) make a smooth transition to four-year institutions, and that those who failed to transfer with junior status were not taken into account in the study.

Success of Community College Transfer Students and Rising Juniors Compared

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