GOOD

Gainful Employment: No Pain, No Gain?


\n
Can the value of a college diploma be quantified? Should it be quantified? Many would argue no on both counts. The benefits of better critical thinking skills, a rich network of relationships with professors and alumni, or an enhanced sense of your own bright future and capacity to achieve are very difficult to reckon. Researchers report many multidimensional advantages associated with more years of education: better health, more stability in relationships, increased political and civic engagement, and more peace and happiness, even into old age.

It’s hard to put a price on any of these goods. And yet, high and continuously rising tuition is increasingly forcing would-be students and their families to perform some cost-benefit analysis. A college degree, on average, awards you 60 percent higher earnings (PDF), which more than offsets the average $23,000 in student loans that graduates stack up.

But the relative advantage of the degree has been growing for a generation not because college graduates are earning more and more, but because high school graduatess are earning less and less—20 percent less for young men compared to the 1970s. In fact, it might make more sense to speak of a non-college penalty than a college reward.

Then there’s the question of what happens to the 43 percent of college students who, for one reason or another, don’t finish their degree within six years of their freshman year. They may have student loans but no degree to show for it.

Or what about those who graduate into a recession, like the one going on right now, with very high loan burdens? Graduating into a poor job market can reduce your lifetime earnings by 10 or 15 percent—and it’s a disadvantage that never really goes away.

It’s clear that with such sums of money, not to mention people’s futures, at stake, it’s time to have more hard-nosed discussions about the costs and benefits of college. Late last month, the Department of Education under Obama took an important step in precisely that direction. For the first time they’re putting teeth into an existing rule that in order to qualify for federal financial aid, colleges must prepare students for “gainful employment.”

The measure they’re using is how the college’s graduates handle their student loans. If too many of your students leave school with an unreasonable ratio of debt to income (defined as more than 8 percent of total earnings), or if they don’t pay back their loans at all, then presumably they didn’t get enough bang for their buck.

For now, the “gainful employment” standard is being applied only to trade schools, which are usually for-profit. But it’s not a bad question to ask no matter what the status of the college. One would think that this guideline could strike fear into the hearts of the philosophy department at, say, Middlebury College (price tag, $208,600; starting salary, about $35,000) or, for that matter, the film school at USC (price tag, $100,000+; starting salary, $0 to $100,000).

Anya Kamenetz is a staff writer for Fast Company and author of "Generation Debt." Her latest book is "DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education."

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics