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Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

January 29, 2013

Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of American’s agreed that one had to earn a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to a report, millions of college graduates suffer a mismatch between education and employment and hold jobs that don’t require costly degrees.

The study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity says that nearly half of all American college graduates in 2010 – nearly three years after the recession began – were underemployed, holding relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs. Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Authors Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe and Christopher Denhart agreed that the country could be overeducating its citizens and questioned if too many public dollars were being spent on producing graduates that the nation’s economy doesn’t need. "Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students," Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There's a good chance you may end up being a bartender." (For more on this study, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? Let us know what you think.

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Changes to 529 Savings Plans

February 5, 2013

Changes to 529 Savings Plans

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you’re going to pay for your college education can be intimidating. No one wants to pay off student loans for the rest of their lives, full-tuition scholarships are rare and federal student aid seldom covers all college costs but if you’re lucky enough to have a parent or relative willing to help curb the financial strains, it’s important to note that college savings plans are becoming increasingly flexible and affordable. Here are some of the changes to the 529 savings plans for 2013:

  • Increase gift tax exemptions: Grandparents can gift $14,000 annually before they’re charged a gift tax. Since five years of the exempted amount can be gifted at one time, that’s a five-year donation of $70,000 per grandchild while a married couple could potentially gift $140,000, provided they don’t give additional funds to the same grandchild in the five-year span.
  • Expanded qualified expenses: Last year, families couldn’t use 529 plan funds for laptops, iPads, internet service and software but the IRS is going high tech and realizes these are necessary items for higher education. Parents of a student who receives a full or partial scholarship can now use the funds to enhance their child’s educational experience.
  • Declining plan prices: Competitive bidding among plan management companies to run 529 plans on behalf of states is contributing to the trend of downward pricing. (For more information about 529 plans, click here.)
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Four College Majors to Avoid

February 7, 2013

Four College Majors to Avoid

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish after graduation? And while there isn’t one direct route that translates into success, Georgetown University’s Center on Education has compiled a list of majors that college students should avoid:

  • Liberal Arts (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 9.2 percent): Studying a broad palette of subjects including everything from literature and philosophy to history and sociology sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, employers may not see a liberal arts degree in the same divine light as the ancient Greeks did.
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 10.8 percent): With the demand for these two degrees particularly lackluster, it’s difficult to justify them as your desired majors. Susan Heathfield, a career expert and writer of About.com’s Guide to Human Resources, suggests considering a degree in communications instead.
  • Information Systems (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 11.7 percent): "I'm not exactly sure what someone would do with [an information systems] degree in the current world," Heathfield says. "In the early days, the roles of various programmers, software developers, and network administrators were more distinct, but not anymore. Now the degree to have is computer science or computer engineering."
  • Architecture (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 13.9 percent): Thanks to the massive hit the housing and commercial real estate industries took in the past decade, architecture has highest unemployment rate among the degrees examined. If you’re interested in the process of planning and designing, engineering might be a more lucrative option.

What are your thoughts on the majors that made the list? Do you agree that they should be avoided at all costs or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high employment rates? Let us know in the comments section.

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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

April 25, 2013

Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.

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FAFSA to Recognize Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents by 2014

May 7, 2013

FAFSA to Recognize Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents by 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Department of Education has recently announced that the FAFSA will soon undergo a few changes to accommodate students with same-sex or unmarried parents who cohabit in order to more accurately ascertain an applicant’s financial situation.

The forms, which will be introduced for the 2014-15 school year, will allow students to designate their parents as “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” rather than just mother and father. “All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

The department has said that the changes will not impact a vast majority of applicants but it could potentially (read: very likely) translate into reduced aid for students with same-sex or unmarried parents. Why? Those parents who do not benefit from filing joint tax returns will likely disqualify their children from financial aid if it’s found that jointly they are above the income threshold. So while the changes are considered progressive, they’re just slightly off the mark when it comes to helping “unique family dynamics.”

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California Universities Instate College Graduation Fees

May 15, 2013

California Universities Instate College Graduation Fees

by Suada Kolovic

In the coming weeks, college seniors across the country will take their first steps towards new beginnings with their diplomas in hand…that is, of course, if they pay the recently instated college graduation fees.

According to a recent report, more than half the schools in the California State University system are charging a graduation fee that students are required to pay before receiving their diplomas. While the fees aren’t astronomical (they range from $45 to $115), students are frustrated with a struggling school system that has increased tuition every year and are only now discovering that their diplomas weren’t included in the tuition hikes. "We already have to pay to be here and [now] we've got to pay to leave," California State East Bay sociology major Donnisha Udookon told the Tribune. Students who have long complained about the extra charges agree that by the time they reach graduation, they almost come to expect an add-on fee at every turn. To them, graduation no longer signifies a moment filled with a sense of incredible accomplishment but as the last chance for the institution to nickel-and-dime the graduating student body. (Fine print: Student loans not included.)

Recent college graduates, do you think it’s fair for schools to charge a separate fee for students to receive their diplomas? What’s your school’s stance on graduation fees?

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Rapper Juicy J Awards Student $50,000 College Scholarship

January 16, 2014

Rapper Juicy J Awards Student $50,000 College Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

While it may come to no surprise that Michele Obama is urging young students to pursue a higher education, she’s not the only one who understands its value. Take for instance Rapper Juicy J: He recently awarded a young woman a $50,000 “twerking” scholarship! Did we mention that her winning entry involved no twerking at all?

Last August, the Oscar-winning rapper launched the Juicy J Scholarship Foundation and tweeted that he would award the scholarship “to the best chick that can twerk.” He later admitted that entrants were not required to do the popular dance move and that he would give the funds to the college-bound recipient who needed it most. And that individual was Zaire Holmes, a 19-year-old student at the State College of Florida. Holmes, a full-time mother and student, said in her video submission that her aspirations of becoming a doctor would require 11 years of schooling and that financial aid alone would not cover her expenses. Touched by her story, Juicy J announced her as the winner and said, “You remind me of myself. When I was 19, I was like really, really working hard.” After her big win, the South Florida native shared her hopes of transferring from the State College of Florida to either the University of Florida or the University of South Florida to study medicine. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the rapper’s take on giving back to the community? Let us know in the comments section.

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Scholarship of the Week: Youth Free Expression Film Contest

October 15, 2012

Scholarship of the Week: Youth Free Expression Film Contest

by Suada Kolovic

Books get pulled from library shelves and school curricula all the time because someone complains about the language they contain or the topics they address. Tell us about a time when parents, a teacher or some other adult was distressed at what you or someone you know were reading...and wanted to take it away. You can also submit a film about or inspired by a book censorship incident from the news that involves students or other young people.

Film your response in four minutes or less. Entries can be videos of any kind, including documentary, animation, experimental, satire, fictional narrative or music video. Applications must be submitted (and films uploaded to YouTube) no later than October 31st. All films must be produced during the current calendar year and address the contest theme.

Contestants must be either living in the U.S. or its territories (but need not be citizens) and must be age 19 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Films will be judged on content, artistic and technical merit and creativity. Judges will be drawn from a panel of renowned writers, actors and filmmakers.

The top three winners receive:

  • Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250
  • A trip with a guest to New York City to attend the Youth Voices Uncensored event in the spring
  • A one-year complimentary student membership to the Rubin Museum of Art
  • The first place winner will received a $5,000 scholarship to the New York Film Academy

For more on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

November 9, 2012

UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Chicago has recently announced the launch of UChicago Promise, an initiative aimed at helping high school students in the city of Chicago gain admission, pay for and succeed in college. The cornerstone of the program is the commitment from the university to eliminate loans from financial aid packages of students from Chicago who are admitted.

“Chicago, from our pre-schools to our world-renowned universities, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The step taken today by the University of Chicago is a creative step that will help many of Chicago’s own achieve their goals and graduate without a financial burden.”

In addition to replacing loans with grants and other nonrepayable student aid, UChicago Promise includes an automatic waiver of the University’s application fee and offers a wide array of support and mentoring programs for aspiring college students. The initiative will take effect for those applying this year and will not be available to students with existing loans or who have already matriculated.

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Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

German University Sues Student for Graduating Too Fast

July 10, 2012

Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

by Suada Kolovic

For most students, graduating college in just four years is the ideal and not the norm. So when a student comes along and graduates with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only three semesters, one would assume a parade of some sort would be in order. The Essen, Germany-based School of Economics and Management went a different route: they sued the student who accomplished this feat.

Earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree should take a typical student about 11 semesters and 60 exams to complete, yet Marcel Pohl did it in just 20 months. How’d he do it? With the help of two friends, Pohl divvied up lectures and swapped notes. Did we mention that in that time, he also completed an apprenticeship in a bank? Well, he managed to fit that in, too! Now, the school is crying foul and claiming “income loss” and suing for $3,772 – a fraction of the tuition and fees Pohl would have paid had he completed the degrees in the customary amount of time. "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl recently told the German tabloid, Bild. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."

With a college education as expensive as it is, can you ever really graduate too early? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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