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A Researcher Shares What He Really Thinks Of The State Of Higher Education

Updated March 5, 2019 1.1k views10 items

Is college worth the price? Having a bachelor degree is necessary for many jobs, but some people are wondering whether or not it's worth going into debt for school. Can you make as much money without a degree? What is the ROI for a PhD or an MBA?

Fortunately, one higher education researcher has some insight to the higher education dilemma. Mark Schneider works for the American Institutes for Research as an institute fellow, researcher, and as the vice president. He studies the value of a college education, and was generous enough to share his thoughts on the state of higher education. If you're curious about higher education issues, Schneider's thoughts will reveal some suprising information that your university faculty might not have told you.

If you're not sure which major to declare or what school to go to, Scheider's works can help guide you - he has some pretty interesting things to say about the value of different majors and schools. Because he's a researcher, his views might be a little different from what one might expect from opinions from college professors, but they're every bit as insightful. 

  • There Are Several Moving Pieces When It Comes To How Much You Earn Post-Graduation

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    Most people invest in higher education to land good jobs and earn more money after graduation. But as they enter the labor market, some grads earn far more than others. Some things I learned during my years of research:

    • Graduates with the same major but from different schools can take home substantially different amounts of money. (Although where you study matters less than you would think.)
    • Earnings vary widely among grads from the same school, but who studied different majors.
    • Some short-term credentials (associate’s degrees, certificates) are worth as much as long-term ones (bachelor’s, master’s).
    • The “S” in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is oversold. Employers are paying more attention to “TEM.”
  • The Value Of Bachelors Degrees Is Debatable

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    The bachelor's degree is the most frequently awarded postsecondary credential in the country - and it is the degree that most people think of when they say college education. But the costs and rewards for the bachelor's degree are under great scrutiny. Why does it take so long? Why does it cost so much? What are students actually learning? What are they actually earning as a result of their education?

    Yes, the bachelor's degree is certainly the entry point for many, many jobs. But I think that the "coin of the realm" may be shifting toward competencies - what can you do? And as that happens, the bachelor's degree will need to be restructured. And other degrees, such as two-year technical associate's degree, and other postsecondary credentials may catch up with the bachelor's. Indeed, the number of certificates granted by America's colleges are increasing at a faster rate than the bachelor's or associate's degree.

    The reign of the bachelor's degree may not last forever.

  • Liberal Arts Degrees Typically Lead To Lower Wages

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    Graduates with liberal arts degrees tend to do worse in the job market than many other graduates. This is the case shortly after graduation, but the disparity can last a decade or more afterwards. A liberal arts degree is often a springboard to graduate or professional training, but far more students with liberal arts degrees end their education at the bachelor's level than any other one. And, simply put, it usually leads to below average wages.

  • There Are Five Questions You Should Ask When Selecting A School

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    There are only a handful of measures I think that students need to know when they think about college.

    • Will I get in? (selectivity)
    • Will I get out? (graduation rates)
    • How long will it take? (time to degree)
    • How much will it cost? (Net price not sticker price)
    • How much will I make?

    Someday, we may even be able to add a sixth point: what have I learned? But the testing regime that this will require is another can of worms that I leave for others.

    With answers to my five questions, we can do an awful lot of powerful analysis, useful to students, families and state/federal governments. And most of these measures need to be at the program level not the school level.