Congrats, graduates: the bad news

“Dean Dad” at Confessions of  Community College Dean (now at Inside Higher Ed) had a sobering post yesterday about college graduates, “Class Dismissed.”  Here are the opening paragraphs:

Half of new bachelor’s degree grads are either unemployed or underemployed, according to the Associated Press.

The market isn’t ready to absorb them. Specifically,

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants. Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren’t easily replaced by computers.

I had to smile at “college professors” making the list. When I entered graduate school during the first Bush administration, we were told that a great wave of faculty retirements was on the horizon, and that we’d be in high demand be the time we got out. We all know how that played out. It’s entirely possible that college professor positions will open in great numbers, but only if you fail to differentiate between adjunct and full-time positions. And having adjunct positions available hardly gets around the “underemployment” issue.

And if you don’t think college professors can’t be replaced by outsourced workers, well….

Speaking of bad news, CBS Sunday Morning had a surprisingly good story about the high cost of a college education, “Some hard lessons about college costs.”  Click the link to see a link to the video; here’s a pretty good quote though:

“In other industries, we found ways to produce things using fewer labor hours, using more technology,” said Sandy Baum, a senior economics fellow at George Washington University (which, at $55,000 a year, is pretty pricey). “We haven’t really figured out how to do that in education.”

The result? College tuition has risen as twice the pace of inflation. In fact, they’ve doubled in 10 years.

Baum also said the increased cost is not due to faculty being paid lots of money: “Faculty salaries have been pretty stagnant. But their compensation goes up when health care costs go up.”

Add to that the increasing number of administrators (for both good and bad reasons), athletics, and college spending on “lifestyle” amenities like posh dorms and workout facilities and you start to see why college costs more than it should.

2 responses to “Congrats, graduates: the bad news

  1. Wow, we really are in bad shape when two of those three careers –professors and teachers– are notoriously hard to get into right now. I hope the accountants have it better.

    By the way, prospective teachers also heard all about the coming wave of retirements. It turns out the retirements just allow districts to consolidate positions without having to fire too many people.

  2. I am in awe at what a fantastic job that the detractors of higher education have done to demonize university faculty by making them appear to be responsible for sky rocketing tuition rates. Sadly, the detractors of higher education never seem to mention that the increases in tuition are the direct result of state legislatures dramatically slashing state support for higher education. For example, EMU used to receive 80+% of its funding from the state. This has been reduced to approximately 25%.

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