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News & Politics News & Politics

New push for two-year degrees could be smart move for US, report says

Posted by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM
  • 9 Replies


If the US is to become a world leader once again in the percentage of citizens earning college degrees – as President Obama has called for by 2020 – it could go a long way by giving more attention to getting community college students over the finish line, a new report suggests.


Forty-two percent of adults in the United States ages 25 to 64 have four-year or two-year college degrees, putting the US in fifth place – behind Russia (54 percent), Canada (51 percent), Israel (46 percent) andJapan (45 percent), according to “Getting Back to the Top,” a National School Boards Association (NSBA)analysis of data from 41 countries collected by theOrganization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (For the full report, click here.)

But the US drops to the 18th spot when looking only at adults who have two-year degrees, with countries ranging from Australia to Estonia surpassing the 10 percent showing in the US.

“Many of the new jobs of the next decade or so will require some college after high school, but not necessarily a four-year degree … so [increasing two-year degrees] can have a significant impact on our economy,” says Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at NSBA’s Center for Public Education and author of the report.

When it comes to younger adults, a better indicator of possible future trends, the US fares worse. It ranks 14th in young adults (ages 25 to 34) with any college degree, and 18th in young adults with two-year degrees.

Russia, South Korea, Canada, and Japan have a quarter or more of their young adults earning two-year degrees.

The US does a good job of encouraging students to enter college. Nearly two-thirds of high school graduates go directly to college, yet only half eventually earn a degree, the report notes.

Trends in young-adult college completion rates have been on the upswing in recent years, but that might be largely due to the recession, which has shut young people out of the job market more intensely.

At the community college level the failure to earn a degree is often more pronounced.

“Traditionally in the US, more of our focus has been on four-year colleges,” says Heather Rowan-Kenyon, an education professor at Boston College. Two-year colleges are often the least funded, have high numbers of students who need remediation, more students with low incomes, and high numbers of both part-time students and part-time faculty.

“We have a disadvantage there compared to other countries who seem to be putting a lot of funds into their two-year structure,” she says.

Efforts to improve graduation rates at community colleges have been a mixed bag so far, Ms. Rowan-Kenyon says. “What hasn’t been found yet are the cost-effective, scalable interventions.”

But the K-12 system has a big role to play, in providing a more rigorous curriculum and better counseling to help students prepare for college, according to another report by NSBA earlier this year.

She also cautions that it’s not just the number of degrees that count. What the report can’t show, and what deserves a closer look, she says, is the type and quality of degrees being earned both here and in competitor countries.

The other missing ingredient from the report: up-to-date data on China and India, two economic powerhouses that are often mentioned in education comparisons with the US. The OECD report did not have data on India. Its China data were from 2000, while the other countries have data from 2010.

In 2000, just 5 percent of China’s adults had a two-year or four-year degree, and although that percentage has probably grown, it’s unlikely it would have moved from a bottom-of-the-pack ranking to anywhere near the top in just a decade, Mr. Hull says. Still, a country with such a large population is turning out huge absolute numbers of college-educated people even if its percentages are low, he notes.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2012/1205/New-push-for-two-year-degrees-could-be-smart-move-for-US-report-says

by on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM
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Replies (1-9):
gsprofval
by Gold Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM
2 moms liked this

Unless U.S. education straightens up and really requires educating our students, The U.S. will remain or go lower in the ranks. Putting people through colleges to "earn" degrees will do nothing because what is required is basically showing up for class.

Seriously, how much can be learned in a 5 week course worth 3 credit hours?

And the tests given are so lame for so many students--rampant cheating online, using phones, open book/notes, never cracking a textbook.....I could go on and on.

I recently read a study that said that 25 years ago, college students studied 22 hours a week--real study (I know I sure did!_.  Now students don't even spend 8 hours per week of study.  That says so much about our education system in the U.S.

jaxTheMomm
by Gold Member on Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm not sure how far 2 year degrees are going to get us.

We need more students enrolled in continuing education in maths, sciences, engineering and medical fields.  Seriously - China and India are kicking our asses all over the place on this one.  We need students with bachelors heading to grad school.

However, that costs big $$$.  We can't afford to pay for that right now.  Meanwhile, we just keep on either importing these students from China and India, and/or exporting those jobs.

Simply_Janeen
by on Dec. 13, 2012 at 11:49 AM
1 mom liked this

The entire education system needs to be overhauled and really set up to get students into the workforce. The way it is now is simply not working.

erika9009
by Silver Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM
1 mom liked this

I wish Pres Obama would have called for a much more comprehensive objective and fix the existing school systems.

He won't though,  the teachers unions contribute too much to Democrats. 

I wish CA would become a right to work state like Michigan.  Maybe, just maybe, control of the state would go back to the voters. 

If someone can figure a way to clone Chris Christie and get him elected in CA as governor, I'll get you Starbucks cards for life.

____________________________________________________

Erika..

Children are a blessing and are never inconvenient.............

tnmomofive
by Silver Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM


Quoting erika9009:

I wish Pres Obama would have called for a much more comprehensive objective and fix the existing school systems.

He won't though,  the teachers unions contribute too much to Democrats. 

I wish CA would become a right to work state like Michigan.  Maybe, just maybe, control of the state would go back to the voters. 

If someone can figure a way to clone Chris Christie and get him elected in CA as governor, I'll get you Starbucks cards for life.


Clairwil
by Gold Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM
Quoting jaxTheMomm:

I'm not sure how far 2 year degrees are going to get us.

Especially if most of the first year is remedial courses covering stuff that children from other countries learn while still at high school.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Not a bad idea - a lot of community colleges have professional 2-year programs: nursing (LVN), speech therapy assistant, etc.

These would provide much better entry level jobs than the alternative - and clearly can be the first step toward higher education in the same or other fields.

I have friends in 2 year, 4 year, Master's and PhD programs.  All are valuable and have a place in society.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 3:38 PM
1 mom liked this

I think 2 less years of ridiculous Liberal indoctrination would be helpful.

Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Dec. 13, 2012 at 5:06 PM


Quoting erika9009:

I wish Pres Obama would have called for a much more comprehensive objective and fix the existing school systems.

He won't though,  the teachers unions contribute too much to Democrats. 

I wish CA would become a right to work state like Michigan.  Maybe, just maybe, control of the state would go back to the voters. 

If someone can figure a way to clone Chris Christie and get him elected in CA as governor, I'll get you Starbucks cards for life.


bouncing

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