Archive for January, 2014

A new long-term report indicates that liberal arts graduates may start off slower than their undergraduate peers who specialize in other fields, but they tend to make up ground over the years and make more money than those who studied professional and pre-professional programs by the time they reach their mid-50s. The study was a joint effort by Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

According to a story in Inside Higher Ed,

“Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows.

“By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money than those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that’s just one part of the paper’s overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree “are unfounded and should be put to rest. [emphasis added]

“That’s a myth out there – that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise,” said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint.”

The report, “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment,” includes U.S. Census data from 2010 and 2011 . . . . Humphreys and her co-author, Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS, looked at long-term career path and salary data as an answer to the many short-term studies on recent graduates that have fueled the assertion that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately un- or underemployed.”

For the full Inside Higher Ed article, go here: How liberal arts grads really fare, report examines long-term data.


The U.S. Census Bureau released a new report tracking non-college-degree credentials in the marketplace. According to the report, 50 million adults hold some form of non-degree-based credential that qualifies them for employment and boosts their earnings.

What this report also suggests, though doesn’t state, is that a college degree isn’t the only ticket to the workforce or lucrative employment. The necessity of a college degree for employment or professional career has been highly overrated and overstated, especially by higher ed industry itself, for years. Moreover, the report weakens the decades-long criticisms by vocationalists and academic specialists against a liberal arts education as an obstacle to meaningful and fruitful employment.

The Census report notes that 11.2 million adults, who have a high school diploma or less, earned professional certificates or licenses without a college degree. Approximately 5 percent of working-age Americans have not attended college, yet have earned some form of work-related professional credential beyond high school.

According to the report, “If this alternative credential were incorporated into an expanded measure of education, these 11.2 million people might be recategorized into the ‘more than high school’ category, representing a shift of almost 5 percent of the adult population.”

The report also showed that those who hold non-degree credentials have the potential for higher earnings. Generally, full time employees who hold some form of alternative credential earned more than those without.

The full U.S. Census Bureau report can be found here: Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012:  Household Economic Studies.

Academic expectations for online education have dipped, while the quality and enrollment are still up, according to a new survey, reported by Inside Higher Ed.

The new report, “Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States,” which surveyed more than 4,700 colleges and universities, concludes that the growth of online enrollment is slowing  and that a gulf is widening between institutions that “have” online courses and programs and those that “don’t want” such online courses.

According to Jeff Seaman, co-director of the group that conducted the survey, “I think its better to call them the ‘have’ and the ‘don’t want’ — since the very beginning we have seen a group of institutions for which online was not a good fit (typically smaller schools and many of the traditional liberal arts institutions). This has not changed. What has changed is they now have had a much more negative view about all aspects of online learning (its quality, its value, its role in higher ed, etc.).”

Read more at Inside Higher Ed.

A new proficiency- or competency-based approach to college transfer credits developed in the Western U.S. may finally move colleges away from the old, but woefully inadequate “credit-hour” system. The question is who will define and measure competency at the “core knowledge” level and by what standard.

This approach has potential (giving priority to the importance of what is learned rather than how much time was spent [possibly?] learning a subject), but also harbors some dangers (government bureaucrats or ideologues may control how learning, knowledge, and competency are actually defined and politicize higher education even more than it already is). Such an approach may lead to greater standardization (and less diversity) and greater control, principally by the federal government and the U.S. Department of Education via the financial aid system. We shall see.

Stay tuned. 

Here’s an article from Inside Higher Ed on the matter.