Student Success

Gap Year May Have Benefits Long After College

Authored by KJ DELL’ANTONIA

Not every child who gets into college is ready to go. For some, taking a “gap year” — deferring admission for a year after high school graduation — may prove invaluable, helping a child thrive in college and after graduation as well. That’s among the messages in Jeffrey J. Selingo’s newest book, “There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow. 

Many colleges now endorse the gap year, including Harvard, which “encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work or spend time in another meaningful way.” Students who take time off tend to do better academically and are more likely to be satisfied with their choices after graduation, and we’ve written about how students who take time off may be able to make better choices about things like alcohol and sex and have a better understanding of what they want from college. As Lisa Damour, who writes a column on adolescents for Well Family, puts it, “teenage years are like dog years: a year of maturation at age 18 is worth at least seven in later life.” Read More... 

Guidelines for Making the Final College Choice

SKYNESHER VIA GETTY IMAGES

SKYNESHER VIA GETTY IMAGES

Authored by Jeannie Borin

The waiting is almost over as admission notices get sent out now and within the next few weeks.

Making an informed and correct college choice is crucial.

There are a variety of ways that each person goes about making their final college choice. Factors in selecting a college may vary from person to person. However, there are some common questions that should be taken into consideration.

Here are guidelines for making the final college choice:

1. Eliminate colleges that you would not consider attending. This may reduce your acceptance list and make the final college choice a bit easier.

2. Proceed with caution if you have not visited the college. Read More...

Five Ways That Mayors Can Promote Better College and Workforce Results

Authored by Carol D’Amico, Executive Vice President, National Engagement and Philanthropy, USA Funds

 

The common perception is that the nation’s mayors don’t hold much sway over the higher education system or the quality of the workforce in their communities. I beg to differ with that perception, however.

I believe that city leaders have both strong motivation for improving the so-called talent pipeline through college and into the workplace, and the authority to spur meaningful change. Every mayor is concerned about the economic vitality of his or her community. Ensuring that both existing employers and potential new employers have access to the talent they need to run their businesses is critical to a community’s prosperity.

Likewise, in my experience, mayors are all about getting things done. For example, in the early ’90s, mayors got involved in the reform of K-12 education after they decided they no longer could tolerate very poor high school graduation rates. Their involvement made a huge difference.

Today, communities face another education challenge: Too few students who enroll in postsecondary programs complete them, and too many graduate with skills that don’t mesh with the needs of employers. The result is a high level of unemployment and underemployment among recent college graduates. Read More...

To Solve the Skills Gap in Hiring, Create Expectations in the Classroom

Michael Morgenstern for The Chronicle

Michael Morgenstern for The Chronicle

Authored by Charlotte Kent, a visiting assistant professor of English at Mercy College, in New York.

On the first day of classes I, like most teachers, introduce my students to the syllabus and class expectations. I have draconian-seeming rules that students often don’t believe and even many colleagues question.

If students are late, they are absent. I do not account for any reasons; they may be absent three times over the semester. They are responsible for contacting classmates about missed work when they are absent. They are responsible for submitting work on time. This also means they are responsible for knowing what work needs to be submitted and when.

The syllabus indicates assignment due dates, and any changes are posted on Blackboard. If students forget about an assignment, that is indeed unfortunate. I don’t offer makeup opportunities or extra credit. Classroom participation and engagement with the work is their opportunity to impress me, since they can shine there even if they are struggling with written work.

These rules exist for a reason. Read More...

Interdisciplinary Research at GW

Authored

Authored

We are at an exciting time in GW’s history for studying engineering. The Science and Engineering Hall just had its grand opening this past March. You’ll be riding the nationwide surge for college students studying STEM fields. You’ll get to live in DC, where policy and technology are evolving every day. Whether you see yourself as a biomedical engineer planning for medical school, a systems engineer aiming for a job in finance or business management, or even an uncertain engineering student...Read More..

As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short

Berea High School in Greenville, S.C., graduates 80 percent of its students, but ACT scores indicate few are ready for college.  CreditSean Rayford for The New York Times

Berea High School in Greenville, S.C., graduates 80 percent of its students, but ACT scores indicate few are ready for college. CreditSean Rayford for The New York Times

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A sign in a classroom here at Berea High School, northwest of downtown in the largest urban district in the state, sends this powerful message: “Failure Is Not an Option. You Will Pass. You Will Learn. You Will Succeed.”

By one measure, Berea, with more than 1,000 pupils, is helping more students succeed than ever: The graduation rate, below 65 percent just four years ago, has jumped to more than 80 percent.

But that does not necessarily mean that all of Berea’s graduates, many of whom come from poor families, are ready for college — or even for the working world. According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need. Read More...

Increasing education: What it will and will not do...

Authored by Brad Hershbein, Melissa S. Kearney of Brookings Institution and Lawrence H.Summers of Harvard University

Mainstream labor economists as well as several public commentators have argued that trends in the economy over recent decades—including technological developments, globalization, and trade, among others—have weakened the relative earnings power of those with lower levels of skills, especially those without a college degree. In recent decades, the earnings of those with a college degree or more have risen steadily, while the wages of those with lower levels of education have stagnated or fallen. Furthermore, lifetime earnings of workers with a college degree are nearly twice as high as those without one, a point made by a number of previous Hamilton Project analyses, including one fromthis past year.[1]

This line of reasoning leads to the view that to further the goal of widespread economic prosperity, it will be imperative to increase the skill level of many in the population, a position that a subset of us (Hershbein and Kearney) took in a recent Hamilton Project framing paper. Other commentators have objected that education is not the answer to the nation’s inequality challenge. Following up on remarks made at a recent Hamilton Project event, one of us (Summers) noted in a Washington Post interview that “to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion.” In this essay we clarify the different elements of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds. Read More... 

Law School Graduates Struggle in Job Market

Jonathan Wang graduated from Columbia Law School in 2010; he is a test-prep tutor now. CreditJames Estrin/The New York Times

Jonathan Wang graduated from Columbia Law School in 2010; he is a test-prep tutor now.CreditJames Estrin/The New York Times

Jonathan Wang has not practiced law since he graduated from Columbia Law School in 2010, but he did not plan it that way.

When he entered law school, the economy was flourishing, and he had every reason to think that with a prestigious degree he was headed for a secure well-paying career. He convinced his parents, who work in Silicon Valley, that he had a plan. “I would spend three years at school in New York, then work for a big law firm and make $160,000 a year,” said Mr. Wang, 29. “And someday, I would become a partner and live the good life.”

Mr. Wang, who works in Manhattan as a tutor for the law school admissions exam, is living a life far different from the one he envisioned. And he is not alone. About 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license, according to a new study, and only 40 percent are working in law firms, compared with 60 percent from the class a decade earlier. To pay the bills, the 2010 graduates have taken on a variety of jobs, some that do not require admission to the bar; others have struck out on their own with solo practices. Most of the graduates have substantial student debt.

Even as law school enrollment was peaking in 2010 — reaching 52,488, according to American Bar Association figures — those graduating were not receiving job offers from firms where they were interning. And offers to some students were rescinded. Read More...

College Career Services and Their Role in Boosting Post-graduation Employment

Authored by John Gower

One element of a college education that many students may not initially consider is that of career preparation. Academic coursework and professor interactions provide students with an analytical framework to solve problems and subject matter knowledge. The role of career services, however, is to help translate that knowledge into the next step after college – namely, employment or graduate school.

The results speak for themselves: utilizing university-affiliated resources is the most effective way to obtain a job.

An analysis of over 68,000 undergraduate responses at 16 American public and private institutions revealed that 56% of students reported a school-related resource or opportunity as the primary factor in obtaining employment after graduation. Read More...