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Generation U: Too Many Underemployed College Grads

by Jul 19, 2013, 6:36 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 3.34.55 PMRecent college grads today face some of the worst job prospects since the great depression. A survey by the Associated Press found that over 50 percent — about 1.5 million — are either unemployed or in jobs that don’t require a college degree. The AP survey found that recent grads were “more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists, and mathematicians combined. There were more working in jobs such as receptionists or payroll clerks than in all computer professional jobs. More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks, and customer representatives than engineers.”

The only category of grads that saw gains was those with advanced degrees — 98.3 percent of job gains were realized by those with advanced degrees.

Underemployment and unemployment varies a great deal depending on the major. Not surprisingly, students who graduated with degrees in the sciences or other technical fields, such as accounting, are much less likely to be jobless or underemployed than humanities and arts graduates.

The Skills Mismatch

Today, about a third of all college students pick majors that have very poor job prospects, including social sciences (11 percent), education (6 percent), psychology (7 percent), and visual and performing arts (6 percent). By contrast only 2.4 percent pick computer science, 5 percent choose engineering, and 1.4 percent graduate with degrees in the physical sciences.

This situation creates is twofold. First it can permanently limit the income prospects of the unemployed grads, and second it can also permanently damage them. Research by economists at Yale shows that underemployed and unemployed grads earn as much as 10 percent less over their careers compared to their fully employed peers. That’s as much as $100,000 over 10 years. Multiply that by the 1.5 million in this category and we have a 1.5 trillion loss to the economy. Worse yet, research also shows that these people are far more likely to become heavy drinkers and also more likely to develop depressive symptoms, though these effects are largely limited to men, who also suffered about three quarters of the job losses during the recession.

Alice in Wonderland

About 20 percent of people under 26 have moved back in with their parents. This is beginning to look like Italy where 40 percent of 40 year olds live with their mothers. A Pew Research survey found that 6 percent of recent grads still think they can make a good living as an artist, actor, or musician. A survey by Accenture found that nearly two-thirds of the 2013 graduates said they expected to be employed full time in their field of study, even though just over half of recent graduates are working full time in their field of study.

There are no easy solutions here. The cause of these problems are attributed to everything from being raised as a generation of dreamers to the lack of emphasis on math and science in high school. There should be a law that requires colleges to ensure that students are made aware of their employment prospects when they select a major. I mentioned this to the admissions director of a private college near where I live — with tuition and expenses of over $45,000 annually — and he said if they did that then hardly anyone would pick majors like history. Exactly!

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • http://www.CollegeRecruiter.com/weblog Steven Rothberg

    I don’t disagree with your article, Raghav, but if one looks carefully at the data what you find is that some of the biggest, negative impacts on the 2013 job market for college grads are:

    1. The size of this generation. This is the largest generation in history. The number of Gen Y’ers surpasses the number of Baby Boomers at comparable points in their lives. Quite simply, demographics work against this generation as there are a lot more of them than previous generations.

    2. The percentage of Gen Y who go to and graduate from college. The only other generation in history with comparable numbers to Gen Y are Baby Boomers yet only a small percentage of Baby Boomers attended let alone graduated from college. About half of Gen Y attend college and most of those are graduating. This exasperates the first issue as not only are there more Gen Y’ers than Boomers and far more than Gen X’ers, far more of those Gen Y’ers are attending and graduating from college than any previous generation.

    3. Hiring by government agencies — traditionally a large source of employment for college grads — is at a low. Look back a decade at the massive build-up in military, intelligence, homeland security, etc. hiring at federal, state, and local levels and compare those huge increases with today’s declines and you’ll be astonished. Forget about a slowdown in hiring or a reduced number of government jobs. For the past few years, the number of people employed at the three main levels of government has shrunk and, given the last-in, first-out mentality in many of these organizations, the brunt of that shrinkage has fallen upon Gen Y.

  • Kathy Quigley

    Good Insight but I have to put a large amount of blame on the Baby Boomer parents.

    Since many did not attend college they have a fantasy that college is supposed to be a time to ‘find oneself’ instead of a time to acquire skills that will land you a job.

    I made it clear to my children, all Gen Y, that I was not paying for college unless there was the ability to use the degree for a job. No history majors in our house!

  • http://www.campusstrategicpartners.com John Flato

    Good analysis and comments, Steve. Further, the AP survey that Mr. Singh is quoting from is from April, 2012. Click on the embedded link! The job market for 2013 new college graduates is much improved, as you well know. While I don’t disagree with many of the points made in the article around the attractiveness of certain majors for example, there are more recent studies about the job market for new grads.

    John Flato

  • Phil Ojalvo

    You are absolutely correct, the is a huge skills mismatch! So here is a crazy idea…..how about Universities spend more resources counseling their students on how to use their education in the marketplace. The Universities need to take more responsibility to partner with employers to help ‘connect the dots’. They need to facilitate career paths for all majors. This could lead to ‘demand driven’ majors, or at least an honest conversation with students, communicating that some areas of concentration at Universities will lead to a low probability of employment.

  • Raghav Singh

    Steve – very valid points. The large number of college grads is a problem. Unlike countries like Germany, we don’t have an education system that directs kids into vocational careers if they’re not inclined to or well suited for college. Projections by the BLS are that we will be increasingly short of plumbers, carpenters, electricians and just about every category of trade. The typical liberal arts grad is obviously not interested in such careers but they pay well.

  • Richard Melrose

    Most of who we are – i.e. for job fit and career-pathing purposes – is well developed before we graduate high school.

    We have the ability to assess the cognitive, behavioral and occupational interest dimensions of college-bound students, with high predictive validity for job performance and job learning.

    We can automatically compare individual results to performance models for more than 800 jobs in the O*Net (U.S. Department of Labor) job analysis database. Students can learn where their best fits lie, where the job growth is and where they will likely make the most money. They can also learn which field(s) of study will best prepare them for jobs that interest them.

    Post-secondary educational institutions should provide these assessments to entering freshmen and thereby allow them to get much higher rish-adjusted returns on their college investment (tuition, room & board and foregone earnings).

    It’s a win/win/win/win option. Colleges want (increasingly, must demonstrate) greater efficacy, as well as higher retention and graduation rates. Employers want to see job-ready graduates. Student loan underwriters want to lower default rates. Helping students make choices that will serve them well, would benefit all four constituencies, as well as society at large.

    We won’t though. Just like we won’t get rid of resumes and traditional job descriptions at the front end of employee selection processes; or unstructured interviews and group grope hiring decisions at the back end.

  • http://www.jobcoconut.com Kourosh Ghorbani

    I have to agree completely. These young adults enter university courses not knowing the prospect of getting a job when they are graduated. Obviously it’s hard to pin point the number of jobs positions that will be available in an industry in 3 or 4 years time, but if they are aware that doing an Arts degree will be a low advantage to them and that doing a Science or IT degree will have be a high advantage to them in terms of getting a job then I think that they would seriously reconsider the courses they choose to take.

    And of course this would mean that companies won’t have to struggle and work so hard to find the highly demanded IT graduates as there would be a steady flow of new graduates every year. Right now in Europe companies are struggling to fill IT positions because the talent is just not their. Companies are combining multiple resources as job boards like jobcoconut.com and recruitment agencies as careertrotter.eu
    They are using every possible avenue open to them to find candidates because graduates are graduating with pretty much useless degrees

  • andy nick

    @Kathy – just curious…why wouldn’t you want your kids to study something that they like and enjoy rather than something that you think will be good for them?

  • http://superecruiter.blogspot.com/ Morgan Hoogvelt

    Good read and good points. Personally, I place blame on two distinct sources – 1. College 2. College grads

    The first, colleges/universities market so heavily and want to recruit everyone in sight so they can continue to make their revenue and budgets. In fact, with the rise of online schools I personally feel that a college education is totally watered down these days. High School students are made to feel that everyone HAS to go to college right away. And while there is evidence suggesting that a college degree provides higher long term earning power, fact is college is not right for everyone.

    I saw too many kids there wasting their parents money, athletes banking on a career in professional sports and just numerous people that didn’t belong or were ready. I myself wasn’t ready and served in the military prior to going to college – I was ready when I went.

    Second, these new grads may have skills, degrees, experience that is valuable but the majority of them have no clue on anything. How can one possibly successfully talk about a position let alone interview when one has zero direction? Too many times do I meet new grads at career fairs and when I ask them what they want to do, the answer is always “I can do anything.” Just because one has a degree, it doesn’t promise a job. These kids need better direction in college and from parents on how to navigate professional life.

    In a recent article published in USA Today it referenced millennials who don’t know how to interview, here are the examples:
    1. One took a personal phone call in the middle of his final interview.
    2. One brought his father into the interview with him.
    3. One had dad call and negotiate salary and benefits after receiving the offer.
    4. One college senior brought in her pet cat to the interview and proceeded to pet it during the discussion.

    Lastly, I agree with @Kathy – while college students need to study what they love, they also need to be smart and study something with staying power and that provides them a strong skill set and background for the future. If its History, so be it – but the graduate needs to make sure they are prepared and ready for a life in the professional fast lane.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Raghav. I enjoy it where you puncture the balloons of the misinformed: “Spoiled Young People Want It All on A Silver Platter from Recruiters”. There’re so many good points here…

    A thought: I think it’s a myth to say that all we have to do to solve our skills gap is to have college students have different majors. Let’s say you get a good chunk of these folks going from “useless”degrees to “useful” ones. Someone who would make an excellent history professor would not necessarily make an excellent RoR SWE. While ther e would be an increase in the numbers of the useful, I really doubt there would be enough of the level needed to change things significantly.

    It was no longer true (even in my time back in the Bronze Age) that having a degree guaranteed a middle-class life style. (I drank that Kool Aid, too.) However, it’s increasingly becoming the case that NOT spending large sums of money to get a degree from a small number of competitive universities will to some extent lock you out of the having the dwindling number of FT, decently-paid, well-benefited jobs. Since I think that millions of parents will continue to scramble and get themselves and their kids deeply into debt to try and grab that receding brass ring, I don’t see much changing for a long time. We Americans are great in solving emergencies, but really crappy in solving long-term chronic social problems like this (and medical care, and probably climate change).

    No Cheers,

    Keith

  • Andrea Salliente

    Coming from the perspective of someone who lives (and, thankfully, works) in a developing nation, I actually believe that there is work to be found in any major (yes, even you, History) but also agree that there are just majors that have better job prospects. I think it really just depends on supply vs. demand. Here, there are lots and lots of Nursing, IT, and Computer Science graduates and a whole load of them are still unemployed mainly because there are just too many.

    A problem I’ve encountered, though, which may also be a reason there are so many college grads that stay unemployed for a long time is that, because this is a “developing” nation and fresh grads are so desperate for work, a lot of them are not willing to take positions that include months of training. I work in an IT solutions company and we’re currently looking for programmer trainees (I hope this doesn’t count as advertising!). The training is good for 4 months and, while we have a lot of applicants, what turns them off the position is the fact that they will be a trainee and not immediately an employee of the company.

    Finally, and I hope nobody gets offended by this, another reason for some fresh grads finding it hard to find a job is that there are parents who push their kids to pursue majors they don’t want because it seems like it has better prospects. The job market is competitive and companies are looking for people who are both good and passionate, and if a kid completes a major he/she is not passionate about or doesn’t even really like, they tend to be, well, not quite as good at it. Or at the very least, the hiring manager might sense their lack of passion and might be reluctant to hire them.

  • http://www.viletinternational.com Jacque Vilet

    Interesting info from Saghaf Singh: “Projections by the BLS are that we will be increasingly short of plumbers, carpenters, electricians and just about every category of trade.”

    I have heard Manpower’s CEO say this and others. If true the whole STEM thing should be questioned — unless tradesperson skills are considered STEM.

    We (everyone) needs to stop perpetuating the myth that college is a ticket to middle class status forever. It’s not. And it’s not worth paying what kids are paying for it today.

    There are many people that say college is a time for kids to mature, learn about the world, satisfy their curiosity, etc. —- not a place to learn something that lands them a job. I’m sorry to say it — but not anymore. If a kid majors in Finnish language (kid of one of my friends) then they need to know they will probably be working at Mac for a long time.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Jacque: “the myth that college is a ticket to middle class status forever” It (having just a college degree) is am myth, and has been a myth longer than I’ve been around, but it is also true that there are very few alternative paths to it for large numbers of people. FT, well-paid, well-benefited Unionized blue-collar jobs are largely gone,and these handles much of the training for these skilled trades positions mentioned. But let’s gets some facts and statistics:

    http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=5%2F2%2F2013&id=pr755&ed=12%2F31%2F2013

    In-Demand College Majors

    In a nationwide online survey of more than 2,000 employers, CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive© asked companies which college majors were most in demand at their firms. Similar to last year, business and technical majors are the most sought after:

    1) Business – 31 percent

    2) Computer and Information Sciences – 24 percent

    3) Engineering – 17 percent

    4) Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences – 10 percent

    5) Engineering Technologies – 9 percent

    6) Math and Statistics – 9 percent

    7) Communications Technologies – 7 percent

    8) Education – 7 percent

    9) Science Technologies – 6 percent

    10) Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities – 6 percent

    To help determine the hottest areas for hiring for the graduating class of 2013, CareerBuilder analyzed active job listings on its site for entry-level positions. For purposes of this study, CareerBuilder defined an entry-level job as 1) requiring two years of experience or less, and 2) requiring a two-year or four-year college degree or equivalent certification.

    Top Industries for Recent College Grads

    Industries with the largest year-over-year growth for entry-level jobs (with at least 1,000 active jobs in March) include:

    1) Advertising – 55 percent

    2) Computer Software – 37 percent

    3) Accounting and Finance – 36 percent

    4) Hospitality – 36 percent

    5) Automotive – Motor Vehicles – 25 percent

    6) Sales and Marketing – 21 percent

    7) Training – 21 percent

    8) Not for Profit – Charitable – 17 percent

    9) Retail – 16 percent

    10) Healthcare – Health Services – 16 percent

    Top Occupations for Recent College Grads

    Entry-level occupations with the most job listings (with at least 3,500 active jobs in March) include:

    1) Registered Nurse

    2) Sales Representative

    3) Accountant

    4) Customer Service Representative

    5) Industrial Engineer

    6) Retail Salesperson

    7) Medical and Health Services Manager

    8) Physical Therapist

    9) Occupational Therapist

    10) Computer Support Specialist

    Top Locations for Recent College Grads

    DMAs with the most year-over-year growth for entry-level jobs (with at least 1,000 active jobs in March) include:

    1) Phoenix – 32 percent

    2) Minneapolis – 31 percent

    3) Boston – 30 percent

    4) Tampa – 29 percent

    5) San Francisco – 27 percent

    6) Denver – 25 percent

    7) Philadelphia – 14 percent

    8) Orlando – 12 percent

    9) Houston – 11 percent

    10) Dallas – 10 percent

    Can Recent College Grads Negotiate Job Offers?

    In the CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive study, nearly half of employers reported they would pay recent college graduates $30,000 to $49,999 this year, and 25 percent reported they would pay $50,000 or more. When asked what they would be willing to negotiate when extending a job offer to a recent college graduate, more than one-in-four employers said they would consider increasing starting salaries:

    · Salary – 27 percent

    · Flexible schedule – 22 percent

    · Academic reimbursement for additional schooling – 16 percent

    · Bonus – 14 percent

    · Cover costs of mobile phone – 13 percent

    · Cover relocation expenses – 12 percent

    · Telecommuting options – 9 percent

    Survey Methodology
    This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,184 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between February 11 and March 6, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,184 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2.1 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

  • Greg Giles

    How does the interns hiring practice affect the job market there for graduates? It seems only to be an American practice. I read in a U.S. HR manual/textbook 80% of American workers work in some sort of service industry. =Easy to hire n fire.

  • Sheereen I

    Typical Indian with no imagination. Of course Math and Science is important, but social sciences are just as important. Its not just studying art and literature, but economics is actually a social science, and political science which are both increasingly important especially with what is going on in today’s world with injustice and economic instability.

    Jump off the doctor and engineer bandwagon, would ya, Mr. Singh?

    Coming from an Indian myself…

  • Raghav Singh

    Interesting comment from Sheereen but nowhere did I write the social sciences are not important – but that they are not equally valued as the physical sciences or disciplines like engineering are in the marketplace. Frankly, the term “social science” is an unfortunate one, suggesting a need to equate a field like political science with one like physics, to give it more legitimacy.

    The definition of science is “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method.” Regrettably much of what gets covered in the social sciences does not meet this definition – many of the propositions are neither testable nor can be can be considered general laws. Even a field like Economics fails to meet this definition.

    That again does not mean these subjects are not important, but anyone majoring in them should be aware that they are unlikely to make a good living using what they have learned.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Sheereen:
    I don’t care if you ARE Indian yourself, your racist stereotypes have no place here.

    Keith

  • http://blog.eskill.com/ Curtis Whitler

    The numbers mentioned in the article are really creepy and note that the percentage of unemployed college grads do not include those people who are engaged in work programs and count as being employed ( but aren’t in fact). Another thing that looks odd to me is that we all blame Baby Boom here but since population has increased therefore all things being equal demand should also, shouldn’t it?

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Curtis: Because productivity has increased, labor demand hasn’t increased as much as in previous post-recession periods. I heard recently (I could look it up for you folks, but I’m too lazy right now) that in the past few months, we’ve returned to pre-Great Recession GDP, but we have a few million fewer workers producing the same amount of goods and services than we did before…I’m no economist (thank God!),but I think that nothing short of a massive (multi-$T) commitment to infrastructure repair and upgrade will create enough decent jobs to really get things going again at more than this snail’s pace we’ve had for the past few years. Do you folks have any ideas how to create 10M+ decent jobs? (Please don’t suggest massive tax cuts for the wealthy and business deregulation- “been there done that, didn’t work”.)

    -Keith

  • Michelle L

    I would still have chosen to be a History major, even if someone had told me about job prospects. (To be honest, I already knew, and still chose it). I chose it because I wanted an EDUCATION, not just one type of skill. And I must say, the humanities majors that I have met perform much better in a wider range of jobs than specified degree holders do. I secured a full time, permanent job at a state university 2 months after graduation. There are definitely jobs out there for humanities majors. I’ll definitely be encouraging my children to take a humanities degree, because I’ve seen the difference it makes in personal growth and in versatility in the workplace. (By the way, I’m from the class of 2013, so that’s why I’m using myself as an example).

  • Gino Perrotte

    As a university instructor, I do understand what’s going on with underemployment and our graduates. It is a real problem. It needs to be discussed. So, I greatly appreciate you beginning this dialogue here Raghav. However, I think your view on this is very one dimensional. I disagree with your view in several ways. This is how I see it from my perspective:

    While I’m overall not citing specific research studies in this comment, the sources of my viewpoints come from the body of professional knowledge and people’s stories (including my own) that I’ve accumulated while working in a variety of industries: real estate, banking, management and education.

    I believe the article is one dimensional because:

    1. It doesn’t distinguish between “training” vs. “education”. Training is often contextual, providing students with special skills that can be applied in specific circumstances. For example, let’s consider the context of athletic training to illustrate my point. When training a gymnast to do a back handspring, we go over the importance of proper technique which incorporates strength and flexibility. If the gymnast is able to master the skill, then he or she can continually execute a successful back handspring.

    Education takes training to the next level. It allows the student to take a variety of skills and apply them in diverse contexts. So, if we are going to educate our gymnast about how to do a back handspring, he or she will understand not only WHAT should be done, but also WHY it should be done. In other words, the athlete will now have an understanding of body mechanics and basic physics.

    Training can lead to production. The gymnast should be able to perform a beautiful back handspring time and time again. Education can lead to empowerment. The educated athlete can now take this understanding of body mechanics and use this knowledge to create new ways of moving. He or she is no longer stuck with only performing back handsprings. The gymnast can now innovate. Today’s dynamic world and workplace can quickly make skill sets or contexts obsolete, and that is why I favor the empowerment of education.

    2. It doesn’t acknowledge the purpose of a University/College as an institution of HIGHER learning. As someone else commented, we aren’t directing enough young people into trade professions such as plumbing and carpentry. I see some students in my classroom that shouldn’t be there… they don’t want to critically think. Instead they want to be told what information they need to know and regurgitate it on an exam to get a good grade. Liberal Arts programs are CRUCIAL to the development of critical thinking. Foreign languages, fine arts, women’s studies, etc. help empower us and bring to us an understanding of our human experience. And isn’t critical thinking one of the skills that employers are continually saying that they wish their employees had?

    3. It makes it sound like employee personality doesn’t factor into the hiring process. I was fortunate to work for companies in the real estate and banking industries that had the philosophy of “hire for personality, train for skill.” Classes such as public speaking and foreign languages enable graduates to communicate better. These communication skills become important during the hiring process, when working in teams, and certainly when interacting with clients.

    4. It seems to view earning potential as the sole motivator for people’s reasons for work. Thinking back over my own career choices and those of many I know, I realize that money isn’t the main motivating factor. We’ve given up higher paying jobs for better quality of life… shorter work days, location closer to our homes, we like our coworkers better at a particular company, we get more vacation days, we get flextime or can work from home on some days, etc.

    While I do appreciate the importance of making enough money to fund our lives and do agree with you that underemployment is a problem, I cannot imagine telling an 18-22 year old to ignore their interests and talents in a particular arts and humanities field simply to secure a higher salary in a science field. Sounds like a recipe for great unhappiness. I highly suggest that you watch via Youtube JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech. I show this to all of my public speaking students. She puts my thoughts into words perfectly… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHGqp8lz36c

    5. It doesn’t incorporate contradictory research. In his New York Times bestselling book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,” Author Daniel H. Pink argues that, “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of “left brain” dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which “right brain” qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate” (http://www.danpink.com/books/whole-new-mind). Pink outlines how 3 major world forces are reshaping the workplace and what we need to do to respond and stay competitive. Pink argues that we need not only focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) but ALSO the arts and humanities. Of course STEM classes are vitally important. But so are arts and humanities. We need to find a way to do both.

    6. Finally, it doesn’t address what’s going on with the cost of education or how our high schools are falling short of their duties. The cost of a bachelor’s degree is out of control. You mention that 20 percent of people under 26 have moved back in with their parents. Is this because they are underemployed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and food-service workers or because they are beginning their working lives with so much college debt? Actually, I know several waiters and bartenders who earn far more than I do! You can make a lot of money waiting tables and bartending at the right places. But when you have a large amount of college debt, it obviously takes a lot of money to be able to pay that off and afford to live on your own. Perhaps we need to revisit the way we spend money at our public universities. The money certainly is not going to the professors and instructors. It has been noted that the number of adjunct teaching staff is increasing because they cost less. Talk with anyone working in higher ed and they will tell you that administration is where the money is at. On a note of sarcasm… perhaps we should consider adjunct administrators to lower the cost of their salaries?! I also think that universities need to consider how much money they are spending on their infrastructure. Remember, students spend only a few hours each day in the classroom. Does it need to be hotel-quality in the aesthetics of the room? And do we really need the expensive, latest technology in EVERY classroom? Sometimes that answer will absolutely be yes… but believe me, based on my own teaching experience, that answer is sometimes no. There are times that an entire semester of a subject can effectively be taught with an old-fashioned chalk board, an engaging instructor, and students equipped with a notebook and pen.

    Each semester we see students who have made it into college without the ability to effectively write. How did they make it past high school without being able to do this? University is not the place where you learn to write effectively. That needs to happen in high school. University is where you take your writing abilities to the next level… this requires that you already have the basics when you arrive in a college classroom.

    Raghav, thank you for allowing me to share my perspective. I agree that there isn’t an easy solution. Engaging in dialogue and hearing multiple, diverse perspectives on the topic can help us to get an understand of what we may need to do.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Gino. Very important points you’ve brought up here.
    While I’m not an academic, my father was (teaching is one of the family businesses, along with social work), so I feel able to comment a bit more personally:

    1)”Training is often contextual, providing students with special skills that can be applied in specific circumstances.Training can lead to production. Education can lead to empowerment.”
    You are quite correct, and that’s why training is emphasized, rather than education.

    2) “Liberal Arts programs are CRUCIAL to the development of critical thinking.” Also correct, and “we” don’t want that now, do we? “They” might think critically of the way “we” run things.

    3) “Classes such as public speaking and foreign languages enable graduates to communicate better. These communication skills become important during the hiring process, when working in teams, and certainly when interacting with clients.”
    Who could disagree with that? Not even me.

    4) “It seems to view earning potential as the sole motivator for people’s reasons for work.” As the saying goes: “It’s not that money makes everything good, it’s that no money makes everything bad.” I grew up in a nice middle-class lifestyle, and really didn’t get it back again until I was 35. I’m afraid there are going to be A LOT of people with similar stories coming along- you can’t discharge student loans through bankruptcy, there’s about $1T in student loan debt, and that’s not decreasing for the moment…

    5)”It doesn’t incorporate contradictory research. In his New York Times bestselling book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,” Author Daniel H. Pink argues that, “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind”
    I’ve been reading this type of claim for close to 30 years, and I’m STILL waiting for some employer to effectively use my nice “extraverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving (ENFP)” personality traits. Personally. I suspect many of these books, articles, webinars are written/read/looked at by anxious and underemployed “Lena Dunham-Girls-Type” folks and their male equivalents (through the decades) to help them get through the unpleasant reality of being lucky to get two dead-end, mind-numbing, soul-killing PT jobs so as to keep the wolf from the door…

    6) “Finally, it doesn’t address what’s going on with the cost of education or how our high schools are falling short of their duties.” Totally spot-on.

    “Each semester we see students who have made it into college without the ability to effectively write.”
    We see that constantly here on ERE, and that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem- we still keep trying…

    “Engaging in dialogue and hearing multiple, diverse perspectives on the topic can help us to get an understand of what we may need to do.”
    As a country. we are now going to face the probability of an aging, diminishing Euro-American population deciding whether or not they’re willing to pay for the education and training of generations of young people who increasingly will not look or speak like their own children and grandchildren. I wonder how hat THAT’LL play out?

    Happy Friday, Folks