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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 Still Isn't Clear Data On What Industry Certifications Produce High Incomes

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    My work focuses on the pay off for postsecondary credentials. These can be short term certificates or degrees (ranging from associate's through professional degrees).

    As you probably know that the fastest growing postsecondary credentials are certificates, and lots of technically oriented ones can produce high wages. The other path, which is not well tracked by anyone, is through industry recognized certifications. We simply aren't tracking these yet - but the Census and the Departments of Education and Labor are working at figuring this out. Someday, we may be able to present a fuller picture of what training has market value.

  • Technical Degrees Lead You To A Rewarding Career Path

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    When I was the Commissioner of Education Statistics I began to focus more and more on how we measure student outcomes (so that was 2005). That focused on more "traditional" measures of student success (graduation rates in particular). In the last three years or so, I have focused on wage outcomes.

    What surprised me the most? The value of technical degrees, such as the Associate's in Applied Sciences. Add to that the value of some technically oriented certificates, and it is clear that a college credential that enables you to fix things pays off.

  • Colleges Are Expensive To Increase 'Desirability'

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    The argument about the costs of postsecondary is, as you know, intense. Lazy rivers, climbing walls, luxury dorms, etc. are often cited as contributors to high costs. The growing legion of highly paid administrators is another favorite. And the role of federal aid that subsidizes costs is yet another of cited factor. Finally, I don't think you can ignore the fact that many campuses compete on price - not the way that firms do (getting prices down) but just the opposite: getting prices up to show that your schools is a quality school. George Washington University is the poster child for how raising tuition pushes up your "desirability" among potential students.

    Bottom line: We agree that college costs have increased way too much - but there is less agreement about the actual causes.

  • Your Skill Set Is More Important Than The Name Of Your School

    From Redditor /u/mark_s_schneider:

    Yes, there are marquee universities (the Ivy League and the like) where reputation can open many doors. And I tell anybody who asks if you can get into any of the, say, a hundred top brand name schools in the nation, you should go. But about 75% of American students go to regional campuses (often call "compass campuses" because they often have North, South, etc. in their names). These schools do not have national reputations, although the best ones may have state or regional ones.

    This is where what you know and what you can do becomes more important. And there's plenty of evidence that what that means is (literally) not rocket science. Can you manage complex data bases? Can you present material in a logical, coherent manner? Can you write English sentences and understandable memos? Much of this is really mastery of the tools embodied in Microsoft Office (or its competitors).

    Sure, learn to parse Proust, if that's where your passion takes you. But make sure you have a set of marketable skills if you want a job and a living wage.