|November 16th, 2010||#61|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Survey: More college presidents make millions
The Associated Press
The club of private college and university presidents earning seven figures is getting less exclusive.
Thirty presidents received more than $1 million in pay and benefits in 2008, according to an analysis of federal tax forms by The Chronicle of Higher Education. More than 1 in 5 chief executives at the 448 institutions surveyed topped $600,000.
Most of the pay packages were negotiated before the full force of the recession. But even if the numbers dip slightly in next year's survey, executive pay is expected to keep climbing over the long term as colleges compete for top talent. And schools are rewarding executives while raising tuition, exposing themselves to criticism.
At large research universities, the median pay was $760,774; it was $387,923 at liberal arts colleges and $352,257 at undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities.
The highest paid executive in the Chronicle survey was Bernard Lander, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and sociologist who founded Touro College in New York in 1970. He died in February at 94.
Lander received a compensation package of nearly $4.8 million. In a statement, the college said $4.2 million of that was retroactive pay and benefits awarded after an outside consultant determined Lander had been "severely underpaid."
Several deals reported the Chronicle survey, which covers the most recent available data, included deferred compensation or other unusual circumstances. Comparisons to past years aren't possible because of changes in how data is reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Colleges were asked to report salaries by calendar year instead of fiscal year as in the past, so most dollar amounts overlap with what was reported the previous year.
Another change: Perks including first-class air travel, country club dues and housing are now included in reported pay.
In 2007-2008, 23 presidents received more than $1 million. As recently as 2004, no college president had broken the seven-figure threshold.
While some presidents on the latest list lead ultra-selective schools such as Columbia, Yale and Penn, executives from schools such as the University of Tulsa and Chapman University in Orange, Calif., are on it, too.
Not all the most elite schools are represented, either. The presidents of Harvard, Princeton and Johns Hopkins all were paid in the $800,000s.
"Value is in the eyes of the beholder," said Jeffrey Selingo, editor of the Chronicle. "Some boards think these presidents, even at small institutions, are worth it. On the flip side, the prestige of serving at other institutions is enough of a paycheck for some."
Still, numbers in the tax forms don't always tell the whole story.
Chapman University President James Doti's $1.25 million compensation includes two "golden handcuff" deferred compensation deals worth almost $665,000, spokeswoman Mary Platt said. She said the board did not want to lose Doti, who since taking the job in 1991 has raised the school's profile and overseen expansive building projects.
He and other college presidents have donated a portion of the earnings back to the college. Doti gave a $1 million gift for an endowed chair in economics.
David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said in a statement that salaries reflect supply and demand, and that presidents' jobs have become more demanding. Presidential salaries make up a very small percentage of campus budgets and have virtually no impact on tuition increases, Warren said.
Still, public confidence in higher education erodes when tuition and presidential pay are both rising, said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
"People see higher education as another institution that takes care of the people at the top first," he said.
According to the College Board, average tuition and fees at private colleges and universities have risen almost 35% in the past decade, to $27,290. Many students, though, pay much less because of grants and tax benefits. The average net price at private schools was $11,320 this fall, less than what students paid on average a decade ago.
Public college presidents generally earn less than their private counterparts. Only one public university president topped $1 million in 2008-09 —Ohio State University president Gordon Gee brought in $1.5 million.
Then there are for-profit colleges, which are under fire for their heavy reliance on federal student aid money and high student loan default rates. Strayer Education Inc. paid chairman and CEO Robert Silberman $41.9 million last year, according to a Bloomberg report last week.
|November 23rd, 2010||#63|
Join Date: Jun 2010
"...you will likely to hear soon." WTF?
|November 23rd, 2010||#64|
Join Date: Jan 2007
Thinking... Please wait.
|November 23rd, 2010||#65|
Pussy Bünd "Commander"
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: land of the Friedman, home of the Braverman
OU annually seems to alternate with Dartmouth (Animal House) as the top party school in the USA as ranked by various periodicals and websites that cater to the young and hip.
Worse than a million megaHitlers all smushed together.
|December 19th, 2010||#66|
[Il Ragno post, on the meaning of a college degree these days]
Sluggo has yet to encounter the phenomenon of the minority Management-Trainee Hire who literally cannot read or write, and requires one or more of the whites working under him to actually explain/do the work for him.
They are legion and every last man jack of them has they collitch degree!
Nowadays, when those schools are largely seats of cultural leftism and political-indoctrination laboratories and everybody demands to see a degree, those men would have never stood a chance. Somewhere along the line between pauper and king, our regimented hamster-wheel society would have thrown down an impassable gauntlet to permanently derail their momentum. While giving the all-clear to half-a-dozen clearly-incompetent brilloes, in accordance with the persuant directives of the Federal Leg Up Act.
|December 19th, 2010||#67|
Switching to glide
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Morrison Hotel
Blog Entries: 11
The bitter irony (is there any other kind these days?) is that, back when so many of those oldtimers dropped out of high school and began building their empires, those universities they passed up actually were "seats of great learning", and a lot of those folks felt genuinely lesser - incomplete - for never having attended (or finished, if they had)
A good 75% of those in college today are there for 4 more years of High School with no direct parental supervision. Your roommate doesn't care when (or if) you come home, and how drunk or impulsively tattooed you are when you do it.
The average student graduates college deeply in debt.
A smart and motivated individual can make a surprising amount of income working during those same 4 years, and have zero debt. Enough to start his own business and work for himself.
Who is better prepared to succeed?
"When US gets nuked and NEMO is uninhabitable, I will make my way on foot to the gulf and live off red snapper and grapefruit"- Alex Linder
Last edited by Donnie in Ohio; December 19th, 2010 at 03:07 AM.
|January 17th, 2011||#68|
Join Date: Jul 2007
The disposable academic
Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time
Dec 16th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION
ON THE evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.
In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research—a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master’s degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.
One thing many PhD students have in common is dissatisfaction. Some describe their work as “slave labour”. Seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, low pay and uncertain prospects are widespread. You know you are a graduate student, goes one quip, when your office is better decorated than your home and you have a favourite flavour of instant noodle. “It isn’t graduate school itself that is discouraging,” says one student, who confesses to rather enjoying the hunt for free pizza. “What’s discouraging is realising the end point has been yanked out of reach.”
Whining PhD students are nothing new, but there seem to be genuine problems with the system that produces research doctorates (the practical “professional doctorates” in fields such as law, business and medicine have a more obvious value). There is an oversupply of PhDs. Although a doctorate is designed as training for a job in academia, the number of PhD positions is unrelated to the number of job openings. Meanwhile, business leaders complain about shortages of high-level skills, suggesting PhDs are not teaching the right things. The fiercest critics compare research doctorates to Ponzi or pyramid schemes.
For most of history even a first degree at a university was the privilege of a rich few, and many academic staff did not hold doctorates. But as higher education expanded after the second world war, so did the expectation that lecturers would hold advanced degrees. American universities geared up first: by 1970 America was producing just under a third of the world’s university students and half of its science and technology PhDs (at that time it had only 6% of the global population). Since then America’s annual output of PhDs has doubled, to 64,000.
Other countries are catching up. Between 1998 and 2006 the number of doctorates handed out in all OECD countries grew by 40%, compared with 22% for America. PhD production sped up most dramatically in Mexico, Portugal, Italy and Slovakia. Even Japan, where the number of young people is shrinking, churned out about 46% more PhDs. Part of that growth reflects the expansion of university education outside America. Richard Freeman, a labour economist at Harvard University, says that by 2006 America was enrolling just 12% of the world’s students.
But universities have discovered that PhD students are cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour. With more PhD students they can do more research, and in some countries more teaching, with less money. A graduate assistant at Yale might earn $20,000 a year for nine months of teaching. The average pay of full professors in America was $109,000 in 2009—higher than the average for judges and magistrates.
Indeed, the production of PhDs has far outstripped demand for university lecturers. In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than 100,000 doctoral degrees between 2005 and 2009. In the same period there were just 16,000 new professorships. Using PhD students to do much of the undergraduate teaching cuts the number of full-time jobs. Even in Canada, where the output of PhD graduates has grown relatively modestly, universities conferred 4,800 doctorate degrees in 2007 but hired just 2,616 new full-time professors. Only a few fast-developing countries, such as Brazil and China, now seem short of PhDs.
A short course in supply and demand
In research the story is similar. PhD students and contract staff known as “postdocs”, described by one student as “the ugly underbelly of academia”, do much of the research these days. There is a glut of postdocs too. Dr Freeman concluded from pre-2000 data that if American faculty jobs in the life sciences were increasing at 5% a year, just 20% of students would land one. In Canada 80% of postdocs earn $38,600 or less per year before tax—the average salary of a construction worker. The rise of the postdoc has created another obstacle on the way to an academic post. In some areas five years as a postdoc is now a prerequisite for landing a secure full-time job.
These armies of low-paid PhD researchers and postdocs boost universities’, and therefore countries’, research capacity. Yet that is not always a good thing. Brilliant, well-trained minds can go to waste when fashions change. The post-Sputnik era drove the rapid growth in PhD physicists that came to an abrupt halt as the Vietnam war drained the science budget. Brian Schwartz, a professor of physics at the City University of New York, says that in the 1970s as many as 5,000 physicists had to find jobs in other areas.
In America the rise of PhD teachers’ unions reflects the breakdown of an implicit contract between universities and PhD students: crummy pay now for a good academic job later. Student teachers in public universities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison formed unions as early as the 1960s, but the pace of unionisation has increased recently. Unions are now spreading to private universities; though Yale and Cornell, where university administrators and some faculty argue that PhD students who teach are not workers but apprentices, have resisted union drives. In 2002 New York University was the first private university to recognise a PhD teachers’ union, but stopped negotiating with it three years later.
In some countries, such as Britain and America, poor pay and job prospects are reflected in the number of foreign-born PhD students. Dr Freeman estimates that in 1966 only 23% of science and engineering PhDs in America were awarded to students born outside the country. By 2006 that proportion had increased to 48%. Foreign students tend to tolerate poorer working conditions, and the supply of cheap, brilliant, foreign labour also keeps wages down.
A PhD may offer no financial benefit over a master’s degree. It can even reduce earnings. Proponents of the PhD argue that it is worthwhile even if it does not lead to permanent academic employment. Not every student embarks on a PhD wanting a university career and many move successfully into private-sector jobs in, for instance, industrial research. That is true; but drop-out rates suggest that many students become dispirited. In America only 57% of doctoral students will have a PhD ten years after their first date of enrolment. In the humanities, where most students pay for their own PhDs, the figure is 49%. Worse still, whereas in other subject areas students tend to jump ship in the early years, in the humanities they cling like limpets before eventually falling off. And these students started out as the academic cream of the nation. Research at one American university found that those who finish are no cleverer than those who do not. Poor supervision, bad job prospects or lack of money cause them to run out of steam.
Even graduates who find work outside universities may not fare all that well. PhD courses are so specialised that university careers offices struggle to assist graduates looking for jobs, and supervisors tend to have little interest in students who are leaving academia. One OECD study shows that five years after receiving their degrees, more than 60% of PhDs in Slovakia and more than 45% in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Spain were still on temporary contracts. Many were postdocs. About one-third of Austria’s PhD graduates take jobs unrelated to their degrees. In Germany 13% of all PhD graduates end up in lowly occupations. In the Netherlands the proportion is 21%.
A very slim premium
PhD graduates do at least earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree. A study in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management by Bernard Casey shows that British men with a bachelor’s degree earn 14% more than those who could have gone to university but chose not to. The earnings premium for a PhD is 26%. But the premium for a master’s degree, which can be accomplished in as little as one year, is almost as high, at 23%. In some subjects the premium for a PhD vanishes entirely. PhDs in maths and computing, social sciences and languages earn no more than those with master’s degrees. The premium for a PhD is actually smaller than for a master’s degree in engineering and technology, architecture and education. Only in medicine, other sciences, and business and financial studies is it high enough to be worthwhile. Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master’s degree.
Dr Schwartz, the New York physicist, says the skills learned in the course of a PhD can be readily acquired through much shorter courses. Thirty years ago, he says, Wall Street firms realised that some physicists could work out differential equations and recruited them to become “quants”, analysts and traders. Today several short courses offer the advanced maths useful for finance. “A PhD physicist with one course on differential equations is not competitive,” says Dr Schwartz.
Many students say they are pursuing their subject out of love, and that education is an end in itself. Some give little thought to where the qualification might lead. In one study of British PhD graduates, about a third admitted that they were doing their doctorate partly to go on being a student, or put off job hunting. Nearly half of engineering students admitted to this. Scientists can easily get stipends, and therefore drift into doing a PhD. But there are penalties, as well as benefits, to staying at university. Workers with “surplus schooling”—more education than a job requires—are likely to be less satisfied, less productive and more likely to say they are going to leave their jobs.
The interests of universities and tenured academics are misaligned with those of PhD studentsAcademics tend to regard asking whether a PhD is worthwhile as analogous to wondering whether there is too much art or culture in the world. They believe that knowledge spills from universities into society, making it more productive and healthier. That may well be true; but doing a PhD may still be a bad choice for an individual.
The interests of academics and universities on the one hand and PhD students on the other are not well aligned. The more bright students stay at universities, the better it is for academics. Postgraduate students bring in grants and beef up their supervisors’ publication records. Academics pick bright undergraduate students and groom them as potential graduate students. It isn’t in their interests to turn the smart kids away, at least at the beginning. One female student spoke of being told of glowing opportunities at the outset, but after seven years of hard slog she was fobbed off with a joke about finding a rich husband.
Monica Harris, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, is a rare exception. She believes that too many PhDs are being produced, and has stopped admitting them. But such unilateral academic birth control is rare. One Ivy-League president, asked recently about PhD oversupply, said that if the top universities cut back others will step in to offer them instead.
Many of the drawbacks of doing a PhD are well known. Your correspondent was aware of them over a decade ago while she slogged through a largely pointless PhD in theoretical ecology. As Europeans try to harmonise higher education, some institutions are pushing the more structured learning that comes with an American PhD.
The organisations that pay for research have realised that many PhDs find it tough to transfer their skills into the job market. Writing lab reports, giving academic presentations and conducting six-month literature reviews can be surprisingly unhelpful in a world where technical knowledge has to be assimilated quickly and presented simply to a wide audience. Some universities are now offering their PhD students training in soft skills such as communication and teamwork that may be useful in the labour market. In Britain a four-year NewRoutePhD claims to develop just such skills in graduates.
Measurements and incentives might be changed, too. Some university departments and academics regard numbers of PhD graduates as an indicator of success and compete to produce more. For the students, a measure of how quickly those students get a permanent job, and what they earn, would be more useful. Where penalties are levied on academics who allow PhDs to overrun, the number of students who complete rises abruptly, suggesting that students were previously allowed to fester.
Many of those who embark on a PhD are the smartest in their class and will have been the best at everything they have done. They will have amassed awards and prizes. As this year’s new crop of graduate students bounce into their research, few will be willing to accept that the system they are entering could be designed for the benefit of others, that even hard work and brilliance may well not be enough to succeed, and that they would be better off doing something else. They might use their research skills to look harder at the lot of the disposable academic. Someone should write a thesis about that.
from PRINT EDITION | Christmas Specials
|January 20th, 2011||#69|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Student tracking finds limited learning in college
George Mason University students Kali Ambachew, left, and Linda Walubengo, study for their final examinations.
By ERIC GORSKI, AP Education Writer – Tue Jan 18
You are told that to make it in life, you must go to college. You work hard to get there. You or your parents drain savings or take out huge loans to pay for it all.
And you end up learning ... not much.
A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.
Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.
The findings are in a new book, "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia. An accompanying report argues against federal mandates holding schools accountable, a prospect long feared in American higher education.
"The great thing ”if you can call it that” is that it's going to spark a dialogue and focus on the actual learning issue," said David Paris, president of the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, which is pressing the cause in higher education. "What kind of intellectual growth are we seeing in college?"
The study, an unusually large-scale effort to track student learning over time, comes as the federal government, reformers and others argue that the U.S. must produce more college graduates to remain competitive globally. But if students aren't learning much, that calls into question whether boosting graduation rates will provide that edge.
"It's not the case that giving out more credentials is going to make the U.S. more economically competitive," Arum said in an interview. "It requires academic rigor ... You can't just get it through osmosis at these institutions."
The findings also will likely spark a debate over what helps and hurts students learn. To sum up, it's good to lead a monk's existence: Students who study alone and have heavier reading and writing loads do well.
The book is based on information from 24 schools, meant to be a representative sample, that provided Collegiate Learning Assessment data on students who took the standardized test in their first semester in fall 2005 and at the end of their sophomore years in spring 2007. The schools took part on the condition that their institutions not be identified.
The Collegiate Learning Assessment has its share of critics who say it doesn't capture learning in specialized majors or isn't a reliable measure of college performance because so many factors are beyond their control.
The research found an average-scoring student in fall 2005 scored seven percentage points higher in spring of 2007 on the assessment. In other words, those who entered college in the 50th percentile would rise to the equivalent of the 57th after their sophomore years.
Among the findings outlined in the book and report, which tracked students through four years of college:
_Overall, the picture doesn't brighten much over four years. After four years, 36 percent of students did not demonstrate significant improvement, compared to 45 percent after two.
_Students who studied alone, read and wrote more, attended more selective schools and majored in traditional arts and sciences majors posted greater learning gains.
_Social engagement generally does not help student performance. Students who spent more time studying with peers showed diminishing growth and students who spent more time in the Greek system had decreased rates of learning, while activities such as working off campus, participating in campus clubs and volunteering did not impact learning.
_Students from families with different levels of parental education enter college with different learning levels but learn at about the same rates while attending college. The racial gap between black and white students going in, however, widens: Black students improve their assessment scores at lower levels than whites.
Arum and Roksa spread the blame, pointing to students who don't study much and seek easy courses and a culture at colleges and universities that values research over good teaching.
Subsequent research found students one year out of college are not faring well: One-third moved back home, and 10 percent were unemployed. The findings are troubling news for an engaged citizenry, Arum said. Almost half of those surveyed said they rarely if ever discuss politics or public affairs with others either in person or online.
The report warns that federally mandated fixes similar to "No Child Left Behind" in K-12 education would be "counterproductive," in part because researchers are still learning how to measure learning. But it does make clear that accountability should be emphasized more at the institutional level, starting with college presidents.
Some colleges and universities do not need convincing. The University of Charleston, in West Virginia, has beefed up writing assignments in disciplines such as nursing and biology to improve learning.
President Edwin Welch is among more than 70 college and university presidents pledging to take steps to improve student learning, use evidence to improve instruction and publicize results.
"I think we do need more transparency," Welch said. "I think a student at a private institution who might go into debt for $40,000 or $50,000 has the right to know what he can learn at the institution."
|February 17th, 2011||#70|
Join Date: Jul 2007
WORK & FAMILY
FEBRUARY 16, 2011
College Parties, Minus the Beer Binges
By SUE SHELLENBARGER
Reports of binge drinking in college have long made headlines. As more schools offer increasingly creative alternatives to shots and beer pong, they say they see noticeable declines in drinking.
Surveys at Purdue University, for example, show a sharp drop in binge drinking among students, to 37.3% in 2009 from 48% in 2006, says Tamara Loew, health-advocacy coordinator. She attributes this in part to a boom in late-night, alcohol-free events on or around campus, from poetry slams and dances to carnivals and "cabin-fever" parties.
Fairleigh Dickinson University students at a Rock 'n Bowl Event in the fall.
Purdue senior Keith Brashaber knew there were other students like him who didn't want college to mean one big hangover. So he raised money and organized a free weekly movie program on campus instead, "Thursday Night at the Theater," screening films like "Zombieland" and "Paranormal Activity."
"I wanted to give students a chance to do something fun, get out of the dorm and be social" without drinking, he says. Since last spring, the films have been drawing up to 150 students for each of two weekly showings.
Other no-alcohol groups and programs around the country offer late-night physical activities, lively entertainment, a party atmosphere and free food.
About 100 colleges and universities do a good job of supporting alcohol-free activities that are frequent, regular and entertaining enough to compete with drinking, says Brandon Busteed, chief executive of Outside the Classroom, Needham, Mass., a provider of student alcohol-prevention research and programs. Some programs are initiated by students; others are suggested and financed by administrators who turn them over to students to run.
About 37% of college students engage in binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks in a row during the preceding two weeks, according to 2009 data from a long-term study at the University of Michigan. That is down about 3% from 2008 levels, but still higher than high-school seniors and young adults who don't attend college. Binge drinking in college is linked in research to risky sexual behavior, lower grades and a rise in violent crime, accidental injury and death.
To succeed, no-drinking events have to be held regularly during late-night hours when students typically would be drinking, Mr. Busteed says. The most popular alcohol-free options are movie nights, live music or just having an entertaining place to hang out with games and space to socialize, according to a survey by his organization of 500,000 college freshmen. Other tactics include serving free food into the early-morning hours or raffling off prizes at the end of the evening to encourage students to stay.
Still, no-drinking events carry a stigma among many students, who arrive on campus thinking college life "is this huge wild party," says Sarah Geisler, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. Many think that "if they're not out at a party and doing something that involves alcohol, their weekend was unsuccessful and they have no stories to tell."
The remedy, says Ms. Geisler and other students who organize alcohol-free events, is to make the activities so entertaining that students forget to be skeptical. Pitt lures hundreds of students to such events, from a semi-formal ball at the Carnegie Music Hall to alcohol-free tailgate parties before football games. The university also set up a late-night tea house in the student union with billiards and other games. "It's like a bar without the alcohol, a great environment where students can go and relax," says Anna Vitriol, a Pitt health educator.
At Brown University in Providence, R.I., an alcohol-free "foam party," a dance with the floor flooded with bubbles, draws about 600 students during Spring Weekend, a series of student-run events to celebrate the near-ending of the school year, when drinking is higher than usual, says Erin Hannen, a junior at Brown. And at North Dakota State University in Fargo, students flock to "Club NDSU" nights offering simulated sumo wrestling, gladiator games, and casino nights, says Laura Oster-Aaland, director of orientation and student success.
"Once you pull students in, they find out they can have a good time without alcohol," says Greg Brightbill, a senior who belongs to a 50-member student group that organizes non-drinking activities at Frostburg State University in Maryland.
Student-run groups can take off fast. Rita Della Valle, a non-drinker, says she had a hard time finding social events on campus last year as a freshman at Drew University in Madison, N.J. "If my friends went out on weekends, sometimes it was awkward for me," and she often left campus for her parents' Cranford, N.J., home, she says. But since she joined a new alcohol-free campus group and helped organize a late-night video-arcade party, a "Humans vs. Zombies" foam-dart contest and bowling, she has stopped going home on weekends. The group, New Social Engine, a program of a Rockaway, N.J., non-profit organization called Prevention Is Key, quickly drew 200 members.
Some organizers downplay such events' no-alcohol rule in campus promotions, stressing the entertainment value instead. The University of Michigan's biweekly "UMix" parties draw as many as 1,000 students for roller skating, film screenings or trivia or karaoke contests, but the university doesn't promote them as alcohol-free. That would suggest that "the main event is at a bar or a frat party and the secondary event is here. We want this to be the main event of the evening," says J. Eric Heilmeier, a university program adviser.
Others, however, are up-front. At Brown University, an "Art Gallery Mocktail Party" at fall orientation for the past two years has drawn 20% of incoming freshman," says organizer Halie Rando, a senior at Brown. Students viewed comical art exhibits, such as gym socks hanging from the ceiling, while meeting new, non-drinking friends, Ms. Rando says.
Although the programs are very different, their goals are the same. Frostburg has posted a 27% decrease in binge drinking among students in the past 10 years. The University of Pittsburgh reduced problem drinking 12% between 2007 and 2009, Ms. Vitriol says. At North Dakota State University, alcohol-related violations on campus have dropped 3.7% in the past two years, Ms. Oster-Aalund says.
Critics say such events attract light or non-drinkers. "Philosophically it doesn't matter to us," Ms. Oster-Aaland says. "We feel it's really important to support those students who are non-drinkers, because if there's nothing for them to do they will probably become drinkers."
Write to Sue Shellenbarger at [email protected]
|March 2nd, 2011||#71|
Join Date: Jul 2007
More College Graduates Take Public Service Jobs
By CATHERINE RAMPELL
Published: March 1, 2011
If Alison Sadock had finished college before the financial crisis, she probably would have done something corporate. Maybe a job in retail, or finance, or brand management at a big company — the kind of work her oldest sister, who graduated in the economically effervescent year of 2005, does at PepsiCo.
Ms. Sadock says people who graduated in 2009, like her, “had to think deeper about our careers.”
“You know, a normal job,” Ms. Sadock says.
But she graduated in a deep recession in the spring of 2009 when jobs were scarce. Instead of the merchandising career she had imagined, she landed in public service, working on behalf of America’s sickest children.
Ms. Sadock is part of a cohort of young college graduates who ended up doing good because the economy did them wrong.
As job hunts became tough after the crisis, anecdotal evidence suggested that more young people considered public service. Exactly how big that shift was is now becoming clear: In 2009 alone, 16 percent more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11 percent more for nonprofit groups, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau. A smaller Labor Department survey showed that the share of educated young people in these jobs continued to rise last year.
“It’s not uncommon for me to hear of over 100 applications for a nonprofit position, sometimes many more than that, and many more Ivy League college graduates applying than before,” said Diana Aviv, chief executive of Independent Sector, a trade group for nonprofits. “Some of these people haven’t been employed for a while and are happy to have something. But once they’re there, they’ve recalibrated and reoriented themselves toward public service.”
It is not clear, though, whether a different starting point will truly “recalibrate” these workers’ long-term career aspirations — that is, whether their newfound paths will stick, or if they will jump to more lucrative careers when jobs are more plentiful.
Renewed interest in public service is visible across the country. Applications for AmeriCorps positions have nearly tripled to 258,829 in 2010 from 91,399 in 2008. The number of applicants for Teach for America climbed 32 percent last year, to a record 46,359. Organizations like Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers have been overwhelmed — and overjoyed — with the swelling demand from talented 20-somethings.
Several factors probably contributed to these phenomena. Perhaps President Obama indeed made public service “cool” as he had promised during his presidential campaign. Some experts say millennials — those who grew up in the 1990s or the 21st century — are unusually big-hearted, maybe because of the community service requirements they had in school.
“The millennial generation is a generation that is just more interested in making a difference than making a dollar,” said Max Stier, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that advises government recruiting efforts.
And indeed, the numbers of educated young people working in public service jobs had been rising ever so slightly since the turn of the millennium.
The sudden surge in 2009, though, suggests that the absence of traditional private sector jobs forced many of the country’s best and brightest into lower-paying, if psychically rewarding, work.
Since the recession began three years ago, the private sector has shed 7 percent of its jobs. The federal government, meanwhile, has expanded its payrolls 3 percent.
While many of those who graduated in 2008 got whisked off to high-paying jobs in consulting and finance, the graduates of the barren years of 2009 and 2010 were not courted in the same way. They were mostly left to scrounge about for their own job leads.
“We had to think deeper about our careers, and different kinds of careers,” Ms. Sadock says.
A consumer affairs and business major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ms. Sadock spent the summer before her senior year as an intern in the buying department at Kohl’s. She assumed she would exit school with a job in retail as a merchandising analyst.
“I wasn’t really sure what types of jobs existed,” she said. “Retail was what I knew, and nonprofit jobs didn’t really pop into my head as opportunities.”
She sent résumés all over the place, with no luck. The summer after graduation she moved home to Greenwich, Conn., where she and six high school friends commiserated over their dire employment prospects. They banded together to form Grads4Hire, a Babysitters-Club-esque group that did odd jobs like catering and secretarial work.
The members of Grads4Hire also advertised that they would do one hour of community service for every job they booked. They were all active volunteers in college — in the case of Ms. Sadock, through her sorority’s partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization devoted to children with life-threatening illnesses.
This was a way to “give back,” Ms. Sadock said, and also make themselves “a little more marketable.” It was her first clue that her interests in public service and in paying her bills were in any way related.
At the end of the summer, she moved to Los Angeles to work part time as a personal assistant. Meanwhile, she began searching for a full-time job.
One acquaintance mentioned an opening at Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization providing entertainment, education and other support to seriously ill children.
Ms. Sadock was an attractive candidate for Starlight. In addition to her volunteer work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she had a résumé item Starlight was not used to seeing: a business degree.
Ms. Sadock was hired almost immediately as a corporate accounts assistant, working with corporate donors like California Pizza Kitchen and Wyndham Hotels on marketing and sponsorship opportunities for Starlight’s programs.
The job is, she says, a perfect application of everything she was trained to do, and had originally planned to do, for the private sector.
“But now I’m serving a purpose,” she says, rather than just “helping some large corporation sell more widgets.”
Like Ms. Sadock, many of the dozen other young graduates interviewed for this story say that, in retrospect, they are grateful the private sector shut them out.
“I always thought that nonprofit work was something I’d do as charity, and then have an agency job for a paycheck,” said John Warren Hanawalt, 26, a graphic designer in Boston.
He applied at public relations firms after graduating from Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., in December 2009, but the contract work they offered was not enough to make ends meet.
Nearly a year later, he found a job at Fenway Health, a nonprofit group that works with Boston’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “It took me a while to see that graphic design could fit into my passion for social justice in a sort of integral way.”
Though happy to have found an energetic, educated, cheap group of workers to replace retiring baby boomers, some nonprofits worry that their popularity among today’s youth may not outlast this period of high unemployment.
Several studies have found, though, that economic conditions at the start of a worker’s career can affect their long-term goals. For most entry-level positions, the pay difference between jobs in nonprofits and those at profit-making companies is often negligible.
“I don’t get paid a million dollars, that’s for sure,” says Ms. Sadock, who is paid $35,000 annually. “But I am financially independent, and I make ends meet.”
But a few years into the job, the upside is generally much greater for private sector employees. Workers in management jobs at companies, for example, earn about 22 percent more than their nonprofit counterparts.
It is easier to be idealistic and relatively unconcerned about wages when workers are young, childless and mortgage-free; attitudes toward the importance of financial remuneration can change when responsibilities add up.
“I’m not opposed to working in the private sector, depending on what was available as I get older and need a more lucrative career to support family and so on,” Ms. Sadock says. “But I’d still like to be something more meaningful. Maybe something in corporate philanthropy would work.”
|March 12th, 2011||#72|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Is the Four-Year, Liberal-Arts Education Model Dead?
Published: Monday, 7 Mar 2011
By: Rob Reuteman
This may sound like an issue for the high school debate club, but it's arguably a more suitable subject for cost-benefit analysis. Is the classic, four-year, liberal arts education a dying model?
More and more people are questioning the practicality of a traditional bachelor of arts degree as the United States struggles to create jobs in a global economy while U.S. colleges fail to contain tuition costs.
A college degree used to be the ticket to a middle-class life, says Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University.
“Now we graduate more people from college than we have jobs for," he explains. "A college diploma doesn’t really cut it anymore as a sure path to success. Nowadays you need a masters degree or an M.B.A. One-quarter of fast-food restaurant managers have college diplomas.”
That may help explain consecutive 10 percent annual increases in vocational, technical and community college enrollment and the closure of dozens of traditional liberal arts colleges.
A Pew Research Center survey of 220,000 incoming freshman for the 2009-2010 academic year found that 56.5 percent said it was "very important" to pick a college whose graduates found good jobs.
“Skeptics now treat the study of liberal arts and humanities as luxuries that are not especially germane to preparing students to compete with peers from other nations in a global economy rocked by recession,” Undersecretary of Education Martha J. Kanter said in a 2010 speech. “The implication of all this is that liberal arts colleges provide a boutique, if charmingly antiquated, education for the 21st century."
Analysts note, however, that there's also skepticism about the education of students who follow a more career-specific track because they tend to lack the skills in critical thinking, writing and analysis that are necessary for success.
“Too many students are coming out of institutions who can’t put into words what they want to say, who are unable to incorporate different perspectives into their thinking and planning,” says Carrie Besnette Hauser, vice president for institutional advancement at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
For that reason and others, “The liberal arts are not going the way of the Oldsmobile,” said Kanter in her speech.
Still, for a growing number of families the choice between critical thinking and marketable skills may be a matter of economic reality. Those affected by corporate downsizing or government layoffs can't afford the four-year, liberal-arts model, says Betty Krump, executive director of the American Technical Education Association.
“I think our society has figured out that technical education is the key to our future success, and that someone with a two-year associate degree or technical diploma will make more money entering the workforce than a person with a bachelor’s degree,” says Krump.
Even traditional champions of humanities education don’t disagree.
“It seems to me that the four-year program in the liberal arts and sciences is one of the genuine glories of American higher education, and a genuine American contribution to education worldwide,” says S. Frederick Starr, a research professor at John Hopkins University and president from 1983-1994 of Oberlin College, a classic liberal arts college in Ohio. “But I also regret that top liberal arts programs are already out of reach of more than a few good students.”
Another Pew Research study shows that the average debt load of a 2008 college graduate with a BA degree was some $23,000, versus $17,000 in 1996, a 50 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Those predicting the death of the liberal arts degree also point to Roger Baldwin, an education professor at Michigan State University, whose recent study found that the number of liberal-arts colleges shrank from 212 in 1990 to 136 in 2009.
Among the most notable is Antioch College, which suspended operations in 2008.
Some of them were small institutions with limited endowments, and thus tuition driven.
“Others will get in trouble over the next 10 years, if costs keep going up," adds Vedder, a member of Pres. George W. Bush’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Steven C. Bahls, president of the Augustana College, a liberal arts institution in Illinois, is determined to stay off the hit list.
Citing his "post-recession strategic plan," Bahls says the college's art department has added a major in graphic design, and the physics department an engineering track.
Vedder says such schools are making the right move by evolving their curricula in more vocational directions.
“That’s happening in some prestige schools, but less so—still, even Harvard toys with the idea of courses with a more vocational orientation," says Vedder.
Somewhere between the liberal arts and vocational training models lies a hybrid version, where, for instance, a philosophy major might spend summers working in a bank.
“Higher education and the job market are not mutually exclusive,” says Besnette of Metro State College. “Higher ed needs to prepare students for what the world is. As a student, you invest in yourself to become employable. It’s a perfect world to learn your theory at school and get your applied training at an on-the-job apprenticeship."
“If I were running a liberal arts college, that would be the way I’d go,” says Vedder. “I’d pump my alumni for internships."
|May 17th, 2011||#74|
[from my in-box]
Plan to burn this to DVD since it's so long, but I did watch the first few minutes and it looks like it supports your Radio Istina analysis of a couple years ago that
someone mentioned in the comment section of govnn.com
|May 20th, 2011||#75|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling
By CATHERINE RAMPELL
Published: May 18, 2011
The individual stories are familiar. The chemistry major tending bar. The classics major answering phones. The Italian studies major sweeping aisles at Wal-Mart.
"This is exactly what the corporate elite desire - educated, in debt, in no position to ask for anything. The perfect employee. Why stop here? Let's bring back slavery while we are at it."
Chris, Peoria, AZ
Now evidence is emerging that the damage wrought by the sour economy is more widespread than just a few careers led astray or postponed. Even for college graduates — the people who were most protected from the slings and arrows of recession — the outlook is rather bleak.
Employment rates for new college graduates have fallen sharply in the last two years, as have starting salaries for those who can find work. What’s more, only half of the jobs landed by these new graduates even require a college degree, reviving debates about whether higher education is “worth it” after all.
“I have friends with the same degree as me, from a worse school, but because of who they knew or when they happened to graduate, they’re in much better jobs,” said Kyle Bishop, 23, a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who has spent the last two years waiting tables, delivering beer, working at a bookstore and entering data. “It’s more about luck than anything else.”
The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008, according to a study released on Wednesday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. That is a decline of 10 percent, even before taking inflation into account.
Of course, these are the lucky ones — the graduates who found a job. Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007. (Some have gone for further education or opted out of the labor force, while many are still pounding the pavement.)
Even these figures understate the damage done to these workers’ careers. Many have taken jobs that do not make use of their skills; about only half of recent college graduates said that their first job required a college degree.
The choice of major is quite important. Certain majors had better luck finding a job that required a college degree, according to an analysis by Andrew M. Sum, an economist at Northeastern University, of 2009 Labor Department data for college graduates under 25.
Young graduates who majored in education and teaching or engineering were most likely to find a job requiring a college degree, while area studies majors — those who majored in Latin American studies, for example — and humanities majors were least likely to do so. Among all recent education graduates, 71.1 percent were in jobs that required a college degree; of all area studies majors, the share was 44.7 percent.
An analysis by The New York Times of Labor Department data about college graduates aged 25 to 34 found that the number of these workers employed in food service, restaurants and bars had risen 17 percent in 2009 from 2008, though the sample size was small. There were similar or bigger employment increases at gas stations and fuel dealers, food and alcohol stores, and taxi and limousine services.
This may be a waste of a college degree, but it also displaces the less-educated workers who would normally take these jobs.
“The less schooling you had, the more likely you were to get thrown out of the labor market altogether,” said Mr. Sum, noting that unemployment rates for high school graduates and dropouts are always much higher than those for college graduates. “There is complete displacement all the way down.”
Meanwhile, college graduates are having trouble paying off student loan debt, which is at a median of $20,000 for graduates of classes 2006 to 2010.
Mr. Bishop, the Pittsburgh graduate, said he is “terrified” of the effects his starter jobs might have on his ultimate career, which he hopes to be in publishing or writing. “It looks bad to have all these short-term jobs on your résumé, but you do have to pay the bills,” he said, adding that right now his student loan debt was over $70,000.
Many graduates will probably take on more student debt. More than 60 percent of those who graduated in the last five years say they will need more formal education to be successful.
“I knew there weren’t going to be many job prospects for me until I got my Ph.D.,” said Travis Patterson, 23, a 2010 graduate of California State University, Fullerton. He is working as an administrative assistant for a property management company and studying psychology in graduate school. While it may not have anything to do with his degree, “it helps pay my rent and tuition, and that’s what matters.”
Going back to school does offer the possibility of joining the labor force when the economy is better. Unemployment rates are also generally lower for people with advanced schooling.
Those who do not go back to school may be on a lower-paying trajectory for years. They start at a lower salary, and they may begin their careers with employers that pay less on average or have less room for growth.
“Their salary history follows them wherever they go,” said Carl Van Horn, a labor economist at Rutgers. “It’s like a parrot on your shoulder, traveling with you everywhere, constantly telling you ‘No, you can’t make that much money.’ ”
And while young people who have weathered a tough job market may shy from risks during their careers, the best way to nullify an unlucky graduation date is to change jobs when you can, says Till von Wachter, an economist at Columbia.
“If you don’t move within five years of graduating, for some reason you get stuck where you are. That’s just an empirical finding,” Mr. von Wachter said. “By your late 20s, you’re often married, and have a family and have a house. You stop the active pattern of moving jobs.”
|May 20th, 2011||#76|
Join Date: Apr 2011
The meaningfulness of college and the past standards of accomplishment have been thrown out the window over the last 50 years of integration, forcing the fallacious concept that Blacks, Whites and Hispanics are of equal intellect and potential.
And after that, we get the potical, socail and legal constructs placed upon American society that favor the non Whites to the detriment of White people, especially the male.
|June 22nd, 2011||#77|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
I just spent the last several years in Nursing school and this is what I saw: In the cafeteria...us white people sitting there at the table with one bottled water to drink. No money for food. Why? Because we are not black, Hispanic, or anything else...so, we do not get extra money for food because our student loan is not for black, white, american indian and so on. So, how many times did I go to class starving like you would not believe!!! let me count the times!! Can't!! I saw those blacks and various other browns with TONS of cash in their pocket to eat at school while in class!! I had to use my white intelligence to survive just to be able to "think" about what was going on in Lab because I was so hungry!! Then go to my next class and listen to a bunch of fair and balanced B.S.and don't think you are going to say anything about it unless you want the prof to throw you out of the class!! And do not get me started on my Social Anthropology class!! Total nightmare class for any white person in any college!! I went home many days in tears!!! But, I was determined! Why? because I chose Nursing to be able to some day help my own people and my own race!! That is why I became a Nurse. I and many other white racial students in my Nursing program paid a huge price to be able to accomplish our goals. To provide the best health care possible for our own race.
|June 22nd, 2011||#78|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Yes, I literally felt as though I was in prison. With standards lowered....so the next brown thing can also be a Nurse as well. The only class you did not see that in was Anatomy and Physiology....which was probably the only wash-out class there.....that is the class where you start to see all the browns leave. They simply cannot understand it....at ....all....period. That is also where you find most of your seemingly somewhat white racial Instructor's who hide in the Lab's and really do not have much to do with the other mainstream college prof's.
Sorry people do not mean to babble on and on......just sharing my experience which I'm quite sure many of you can see the picture here.
And if you are white the tuition is out of this world because the Jewish-versities use our money to give to blacks and any other brown...so they can eat....while the white students most of them that is....sit there starving watching them with our money the college just took from us....So glad I have a white racial father.....he tried his best to make sure it didn't happen, but, lot's of times it did.
Last edited by LindaLou; June 22nd, 2011 at 01:07 AM.
|July 11th, 2011||#79|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Salary plan for San Diego State president stirs furor
The compensation of $400,000 draws fire from critics, who cite deep cuts and rising tuition in the Cal State system. But a study found CSU campus presidents are underpaid compared to their peers.
By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
July 9, 2011
California State University is proposing to pay the new president of its San Diego campus $100,000 more annually than his predecessor, a move that is raising hackles as the university grapples with another round of student tuition hikes amid deep state funding cuts.
If the plan is approved Tuesday by the Board of Trustees, San Diego State President Elliot Hirshman would receive annual compensation of $400,000 — $350,000 from the state and an annual supplement of $50,000 from the campus' nonprofit foundation.
The annual salary of former President Stephen L. Weber was $299,435, according to university records. Hirshman's proposed salary is only a little shy of that of Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed, who receives $421,500 in salary, as well as $30,000 toward his retirement from the Cal State University Foundation.
Some lawmakers, students and faculty were incredulous at the salary recommendation and its timing, coming after the Legislature and governor approved a spending plan last week that cuts $650 million from Cal State, with additional reductions possible.
On the same agenda Tuesday, the university's governing board will consider a recommendation to increase annual tuition by 12% — or an additional $294 a semester for fall 2011. That would be on top of a previously approved increase of 10%. Over the last decade tuition has tripled, to $4,884 a year for undergraduates in the university system.
"It's outrageous," said Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who sits on the Assembly's higher education committee. "At a time then they are raising student fees, it's not acceptable. For those of us who fight for every nickel to help our kids, they make it very difficult."
Many faculty are also concerned that the proposed compensation sends the wrong message, said Lillian Taiz, the California Faculty Assn. president.
"It is complete arrogance and tone deafness to be doing something like this while students are being knocked sideways by pretty staggering fee increases year after year," said Taiz, a history professor at Cal State L.A. "For those of us who have been struggling and working on helping the public understand the value of higher education and investment in higher education … it doesn't send the right message."
The salary proposal shows that Reed and the 25-member board are out of touch with the needs of students, said Funmilola Fagbamila, who attends Cal Sate L.A. Her financial aid is threatened by budget cuts and barely covers tuition, let alone books and housing, she said.
"I think the salary they're talking about is ridiculous," said Fagbamila, 20, who plans to attend a protest at the trustees' meeting. "I definitely think administrators have not shouldered their share of the cuts."
Hirshman, who assumed the top post at San Diego State on July 1, was previously provost and senior vice president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the No. 2 position. His salary there was $267,000, according to the university.
Cal State trustees lauded his academic record and administrative experience. "Those factors along with his exciting vision for the future of San Diego State make him an excellent choice to steward the university into the next decade, " said William Hauck, who chaired the board's presidential search committee, after Hirshman's May appointment.
Hirshman declined to comment.
The compensation package includes a $1,000-per-month vehicle allowance and reimbursement for moving costs as well as for expenses incurred in selling Hirshman's Virginia residence. In San Diego, he will occupy a house provided by the university.
San Diego State, with a student population of about 35,000, is a leading research institution among Cal State's 23 campuses and has a noted athletics program, officials said.
A study commissioned by the chancellor found that Cal State's campus presidents are underpaid compared to their peers, receiving on average only about 52% of the pay of chief executives at similar institutions. Current presidents have not received a raise since 2007. If they had, their salaries would be more in line with Hirshman's proposed pay, said Cal State spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp.
Also earning more than $300,000 are San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi at $353,200, Cal State L.A. President James Rosser at $325,000 and Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander at $320,329. Several Cal State presidents also receive $50,000 or $60,000 housing allowances.
The median total compensation for public college presidents in 2009-10 was $375,442, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
A competitive salary and benefits are necessary to attract the best and the brightest, Uhlenkamp said.
"The chancellor and trustees on the search committee have come to the consensus that he is going to be someone who is a leader for that university and for that community," Uhlenkamp said. "We're not going to get people at bargain basement salaries to move across the country to fill those roles."
Trustees also faced scrutiny in January when they agreed to pay the new president of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Jeffrey Armstrong, $350,000 in state-funded salary, plus a $30,000 annual supplement from the campus foundation. Until that point, according to a lawsuit filed by the faculty association, the salary schedule for the system's campus presidents had ranged from $223,584 to $328,200.
The suit, filed in April, alleges that the chancellor and trustees violated California's open-meeting laws by failing to provide public notice of the increase in the maximum salary range.
Uhlenkamp, however, said trustees effectively set the higher pay standard when they approved Armstrong's salary, which he said was properly posted 10 days before the vote.
But the arguments ring hollow, said state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), a frequent critic of the compensation of top officials at Cal State and the University of California. He also questioned the use of foundation money to supplement salaries, arguing that these funds, typically provided by donors, should be used to help students with financial difficulties to stay in school.
"In these tough economic times," said Yee, "top administrators should be willing to tighten their belts like everyone else."
|August 23rd, 2011||#80|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Have B-Schools become debtors' prisons?
August 18, 2011
MBA grads are shouldering record levels of debt as tuition rates head skyward, making the degree a risky investment that's not often approached with caution or restraint.
By Mica Bevington, contributor
(poetsandquants.com) -- In 2008, Brian Jenkins moved to Malibu, Calif., to start his MBA at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management. He had big ambitions for B-school, expecting the degree to help him land a six-figure-salary job in human resources at a top company.
Pepperdine seemed poised to deliver. When he was a mere applicant, the admissions director gave him a personal tour of the business school, which commands a stunning perch overlooking the Pacific. His student experience was "amazing," he says, handing top marks to his professors and classmates. The weather – "perfect every day" – was an added perk.
To pay for it all, Jenkins took out $120,000 in loans. But his six-figure-salary job never materialized. "The career services staff basically said, 'We'll help you edit your resume, good luck out there,'" he recalls. "A lot of [my classmates] found jobs paying $55,000 to $65,000 per year, and they were very excited that they had a job."
In fact, Jenkins' class earned a mean base salary of $69,167, according to Pepperdine's official stats. They also owed an average $66,242. When the economy was doing well, and there was upward mobility, MBAs made sense, Jenkins says. "People were able to manage their debt load."
Wallowing in a sea of B-school debt
MBAs like Jenkins are shouldering record levels of debt, approaching a tipping point that makes the degree – no matter how good the experience – a risky investment that isn't always being approached with financial caution and restraint. It's now common for many graduates to leave a top business school with six-figure debt, and in some cases, MBAs are graduating with more than $150,000 in loans that will take them 10 or more years to pay back.
At a few elite business schools, including Wharton and Columbia, the "average" debt burden is already six figures. Wharton grads left Philadelphia last year with loans that averaged $109,836 -- the most among all business schools. Overall, graduates from Poets&Quants' top-10 U.S. MBA programs owed an average $87,049 last year (MIT-Sloan did not release its debt figures).
Several business schools, including Stanford and Dartmouth College's Tuck School, expect these numbers to increase this year. The reason: Many students are starting their MBAs with diminished assets due to the Great Recession. They drained their bank accounts as the economy went south to maintain their lifestyles, so many of them will have to borrow more than their predecessors. And they're doing this at a time when starting salaries for MBAs have flattened overall.
"The numbers scare me," concedes Diane Bonin, director of financial aid at the Tuck School. "People coming in are making a little bit less and have much less in available savings." She expects the average debt burden of latest Tuck grads to rise to $98,500 for the class that just graduated from the record $96,292 last year.
Despite the alarming figures, members of the incoming class of 2013 have expressed little concern over taking on the debt. Like Jenkins at Pepperdine, they're betting that the degree will pay off in the long run, providing salaries and bonuses that will allow them to repay the loans. "No one says, 'How am I going to pay for this?'" says Rod Garcia, director of MBA admissions at MIT's Sloan School.
Still, some B-school deans are beginning to worry. Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria is concerned that escalating debt burdens will put more pressure on MBAs to accept jobs they don't want. "You might take the highest paying job whether you are committed to that as a career or not because it's a way to pay off your debt," he says.
Tuition reaching skyward
There are many reasons for the debt binge, from the rising cost of attending an MBA program to the increased availability to borrow money. In the decade since 2001, the top 10 U.S. MBA programs lifted tuition by an average of 80% (not including fees) for their two-year programs. The nearly 6,000 students who make up the class of 2013 at the elite 10 will pay an average $105,923 in tuition next year, before grants or scholarships discount the price. (Pepperdine's incoming MBAs will pay about $80,000.)
But with fees and living expenses, the total ticket creeps dangerously close to $200,000: The Wharton School's incoming MBAs will pay close to $178,000 to study and live in Philadelphia. If they continue to borrow at rates similar to their predecessors, the average 2013 graduate will rack up debt of nearly $124,000.
Schools have gotten away with steep tuition rises, but critics say these hikes are unsustainable, partially because students are borrowing too much to study. "We're starting to get to a point of diminishing returns," says Mark Kantrowitz, founder and publisher of FinAid, as well as FastWeb, a free scholarship matching service. "The pricing power of the colleges is going to hit a ceiling."
There is some evidence that prospective MBA students are voting with their feet, taking their talents elsewhere or sticking with their current jobs. A recent Poets&Quants report showed that applications to many B-schools will drop between 3% and 10% in 2011-12. The reason? Full-time MBA programs don't offer the value they used to.
The risk-benefit analysis for any one candidate is often hard to do because it's dependent on lots of different variables. MBA graduates from top business schools are paid more than their counterparts from lesser-known schools. However, students at the elite schools also pay a lot more for the privilege -- and generally require more years to realize their investment.
Graduates from Poets&Quants' top-10 schools earned a median $107,905 in 2010. Graduates from the schools rated Nos. 40 to 50 earned about $30,000 less, an average $81,599. On first glance, those salaries look nice; but hiding among every the averages are pay ranges that dip frighteningly low, especially when compared against the debt. At Wharton, where the average debt was nearly $110,000, graduates earned a range of annual base salaries that stretched from $350,000 to $25,000.
MBA graduates who land a six-figure job loaded with extra compensation are not likely to be kept awake at night worrying about such debt. Columbia Business School sent 48% of its graduating class to the financial services industry in 2010, where the median salaries ranged from $95,000 in commercial banking to $115,000 in hedge funds. So when some 65% of your MBAs borrow money through the financial aid office, according to Marilena Botoulas, director of financial aid, and their debt "hovers" around $100,000, it may not be quite so scary.
Columbia encourages its MBAs to live on less during school, which "allows them to live less like a student later," Botoulas says. "It's not a cheap monthly payment. It's another rent payment in New York for the most part."
Meantime, post-MBA salaries have not kept pace with tuition increases. At L'Oreal, for example, starting MBA salaries have risen once since 2008, when Cecilia Nelson, director of talent development for L'Oreal's consumer products division, joined the company. When the human resources department considers salary, "MBA debt isn't our concern," she says. Instead, salaries are set "to remain competitive in the market."
The curse of easy money
The ease at which borrowers can now access federal loans is another debt-fueling culprit. A piece of July 2006 federal legislation made grad students eligible for the Direct PLUS Federal Loan -- previously restricted to the parents of students -- allowing grad students to cover the full whack of the student budget, which each school sets, with federal loans.
U.S. graduate students no longer have to lean on as many private loans after they max out on their annual Direct Stafford Loan limits ($20,500 per year), as well as the Federal Perkins Loan, a need-based, low-interest rate loan reserved for students in exceptional circumstances, and limited to $8,000 per year of grad school.
"We had seen too many people saying, 'An education will make me better off,'" says Dan Thibeault, president and co-founder of student loan servicer Graduate Leverage, "That carries into 'any education will make me better off,' but that's not the case anymore."
Jenkins sobered up to that lesson at Pepperdine. Short of a job offer that would allow him to pay off his debt, he took a calculated risk and moved to Ithaca, New York, and enrolled in Cornell University's 12-month master's program in industrial relations. Thanks to a dean's scholarship, he only needed to borrow $20,000 for the privilege.
"If I hadn't gone to Cornell, I would have been in serious trouble," he says. "The only way to break into these top-tier companies is to come from a top-tier school."
Jenkins accepted a job with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in Dallas. His human resources role delivers a total compensation package in the low six-figures. Thanks to the low cost of living in Dallas, he plans to overpay his monthly $1,750 loan payments and hopes to be debt free within five years.
Facing the cold, hard financial truth
In addition to taking on too much debt, MBA hopefuls must weigh the salary they'll forfeit while they study. In 2002, Mandy Moore made the difficult choice of leaving a well-paid job in Silicon Valley to attend London Business School. A return on investment calculator had told her to stay put -- it would take her years to recoup her lost earnings and to pay back her loans -- but she wanted the option of changing industries and she craved an international experience.
After graduating, it took Moore four years to return to her pre-MBA salary. Meantime, her debt, borrowed in U.S. dollars and GB pounds, added up to $140,000, which required payments of $2,500 a month. "It was more than my mortgage," she says. In fact, she and her husband (a classmate from London Business School who graduated sans debt) refinanced their home to pay off one of her U.S. loans, which was accruing interest at a rate of 11%.
Moore argues that the experience was worth every penny. But she cautions that it wouldn't have been the case elsewhere. "A lot of my classmates were rock stars," she says. "But an MBA isn't worth it if you're not going to a top-10 school. I have a hard time imagining that you'll be better off taking two years off from work, losing salary" at a school with less clout.
It's no good deluding yourself about the payback an MBA offers, warns David Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns and manages the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). "Don't look at the salary that one guy in private equity got if you're looking at a school that private equity firms don't recruit from," says Wilson.
Graduating into recession
Today's MBAs have another profound disadvantage compared with their predecessors: most started their careers during the Great Recession. "We're seeing needier students," says Jack Edwards, director of financial aid at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. "Prior to the crisis, students came with assets. Those assets were considered part of the [financial aid] calculation."
In 2010, Stanford's MBAs graduated with an average $71,403 debt, one of the lowest burdens among the top-10 schools.
Applicants who do hold assets are also tightening their belts. "Students are only borrowing what they really need," Edwards says. "They're thinking, 'maybe, because I'm early in my career, it's worth liquidating my assets, because I can rebuild those for the future.'"
Some MBA alumni suggest that people avoid the costly degree altogether, unless an employer is footing the bill. "I guarantee you dollars to doughnuts that I can find you a cheaper option than an MBA," says Christian Schraga, a member of Wharton's MBA class of 2002, and now a vice president at Columbia Records. He graduated in a year when MBA jobs were scarce. His debt was a frightening $112,875 -- 10 years ago.
"Instead of thinking about signing the promissory note and taking two years at B-school, just do what you want," he says. "If you want to be in the music business, find someone who sings well and book them gigs. If you want to sell toothpaste, sell it. You'll learn a hell of a lot more that way and it will be a hell of a lot less expensive."