Phi Beta Cons

Know Before You Go

Although most of today’s students decide to go to college to get a long-term earnings boost and fast-track their careers, they often lack the information necessary to achieve such goals. In an era in which student debt and underemployment are at record highs, parents and students are still blindly making decisions about which colleges to attend and which degrees to pursue.

In today’s Pope Center feature, Stephanie Keaveney discusses transparency efforts taking place in Colorado, Tennessee, Minnesota, Texas, and North Carolina that could help parents and students make smarter decisions. Those states have developed or are developing online tools that provide data on degree earnings potential and college completion rates at community colleges and four-year universities. 

While it’s common knowledge that art majors earn less than, say, engineering majors, there are other degree comparisons that are counter-intuitive. For instance, Keaveney found that in North Carolina, 2008 community college grads with degrees in radiation therapy technology earned, on average, $53,802 after five years, while bachelor’s degree holders in a similar field earned $52,667 after five years.

Perhaps if those bachelor’s degree students had had more information, they would have instead pursued the lower-cost community college track. But perhaps not.

“Even with the availability of future outcomes data, there is no guarantee that students will heed the warning. The easy availability of student loans allows students to be more careless with their educational choices, even if it leaves them with a less than promising future,” writes Keaveney.

Read the full article here.

Jesse Saffron — Jesse Saffron is a writer and editor for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a North Carolina-based think tank dedicated to improving higher education in the Tar ...

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