Category Archives: career implications

The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

Recently an academic cheating scandal rocked the world of college athletics. Over the last eighteen years more than three thousand students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) “took” classes that did not exist. In many cases this boosted GPAs to ensure athlete eligibility and the graduation of otherwise unqualified students. The NCAA as a whole faces increased scrutiny in light of the findings and without doubt the university’s football and basketball teams face some stiff penalties.

What surprises many interested observers of the unfolding events is the collective yawn coming from those outside the world of sports regarding this academic fraud. Half of the students involved had no affiliation with sports but few seem to care that numerous non-athletes cheated. This apathy is why this scandal matters to you.

Continue reading The UNC Cheating Scandal and Why It Matters To You

Use School Breaks to Get a Clue

Use School Breaks to Get a Clue

Giving a praise


Today let’s talk about two seemingly disparate realities I regularly observe about student activity in and out of school: 1) the stress (and importance) of declaring a major and 2) “unspent” school breaks. And then I’ll dish you this handy tip, which should in a sense kill these two birds with one stone. Continue reading Use School Breaks to Get a Clue

Alternatives TO School

choices, options, alternatives


Alternatives To School

Disclosure notice: The following topic causes panic among parents when I bring it up. We’ve looked at alternative schools in the past (here, here, and here for instance) and will do so again in the future, and this makes people a bit uncomfortable. Today we’ll go one step further. I’m going to walk you through (gasp) some alternatives to school that may work for you.

In my last post I broached the idea that college falls short in its outcomes for many students. Perhaps, then, many would be better off to get what they need through other channels. Sacrilegious, I know, but perhaps you don’t need a full-blown college experience to get where you need to go. Before thinking about school by default, perhaps we should challenge the assumption that anything but a college experience would serve you well. The old maxim is true: College isn’t for everybody. Here are a few alternatives to school to consider. Continue reading Alternatives TO School

Certifications for Better Employment

Certifications for Employment

certified grunge retro red isolated ribbon stamp

When I ask students why they want to go to college, the number one response I hear, hands down, is “to get a good job” or “to qualify for a career.” We fear getting stuck in the dead end workforce right out of high school. We often seek higher education for reasons of employ-ability; specifically, a better crack at a good paying white collar sort of job. That’s the way to go, right? Continue reading Certifications for Better Employment

Chart: The Value of a Buck by State

Chart: The Value of a Buck by State

How much $1 worth in each state

While on the surface this chart selection seems to have nothing to do with college, it highlights a very important factor in college and career affordability. Thanks to an analysis conducted by the Tax Foundation we get to see the relative value of a dollar state-by-state (they also offer a more detailed breakdown here). Once we grasp the concept of differing amounts of purchasing power between regions we get a little insight into our ultimate prospects for affordable endeavors.

I stumbled into this phenomenon in the years surrounding my college experience. I came from a retirement mecca in Arizona but went to college in a region of Ohio where seemingly everything -groceries, gas, vehicles, housing, services – could be had for less. While there I could convert my minimum wage campus employment into cheap sustenance from Aldi and entertainment from the dollar theater. After graduation I returned to Arizona eke by by on my $8/hour wages before wising up and scampering back to rural Ohio where the same pay freed up enough money to consistently pay extra on my student loans.

Keep this in mind as you explore schools and jobs. If you have two relatively similar schools of relatively similar expense, you may want to tip your interest in favor of a school in a region where a dollar buys you more. You will have to, after all, continually purchase items off campus. And when entertaining job offers don’t always bite for the higher paying gig, particularly if that would land you in a region of greater expense.

In fact, I often advise youth from my area to move out of town to get their start in the South or the Midwest where it’s much easier to find cheap starter homes and  hoopties to tide them over until they have enough net worth to make choices based on wants over needs. I’m sure glad I did, even if by happy accident.


Come Up Short? Explore the Reverse Transfer

smoked sausages


Come Up Short? Explore the Reverse Transfer

Normally in this space I write to an audience of would-be college students, high school upper classmen and others who seek to embark on the college path for the first time. Yet increasingly I run into, hear from, and read about the dropouts- former students who didn’t quite attain a degree for one reason or another.

Unfortunately, dropping out has become the norm, not the exception. For many the short-lived college experience can seem like such a waste; it’s back to square one with little to show except the ability to check the “some college” box on job applications and a trail of student debt. As we’ve seen previously those who have college credits but no degree have some earnings advantages over those who obtained no education beyond high school but have been largely in the same boat in terms of wage declines in this job market. What to do with a handful of college credits but no formal degree?
Continue reading Come Up Short? Explore the Reverse Transfer

The Best of Both Worlds

Plumber or mechanic with certificate, qualification or other scroll and wrench. Education concept for being professionally qualified or certificated.

The Best of Both Worlds

We’ve seen statistical evidence (link, link) that students can no longer muster enough income for college by merely making minimum wage. To that end I have suggested by and large employment in the “results economy” as opposed to the more predictable but less lucrative “time and effort economy.” (link, link, link). But this option often fails to inspire students, who see self employment as a crapshoot. What of the student who wants a regular, steady paycheck and schedule while in college? Continue reading The Best of Both Worlds

The Traditional Job

The Traditional Job

This image is a sarcastic take on the value of a university/college degree

The Traditional Job

When a young person hears “get a real job” the underlying encouragement is to go out and get steady, regularly scheduled, “W-2” employment. College towns boom with such arrangements, particularly in the services and trades sectors of the job market. Finding such work is as easy as picking up the local newspaper, a job-specific classifieds newsletter, or searching out Craigslist and employment websites. Continue reading The Traditional Job

Understanding How Work Works

Understanding How Work Works

landscapers II

Al & Alicia

Work is Not a Four Letter Word

To this point we’ve focused on the resources available to college students that don’t directly involve any “I work, you pay” transactions. This not because a student should avoid work but because college students uniquely have access to other forms of money not readily available to the population at large. It therefore makes sense to explore those first. Whether or not those avenues succeed I highly encourage college students to pursue work with vigor for several reasons. Continue reading Understanding How Work Works

Chart: Why Widening Wage Gap by Education Level?

Chart(s): Why is the Educational Level Wage Gap Widening?

FRBSF Article Charts Combined

Here we get a three-for-one thanks to an enlightening article by Rob Valletta titled “Higher Education, Wages, and Polarization” published in the January 12, 2015 edition of the FRBSF Economic Letter. This particular article and its chart series seeks not only to capture the “what” of the increasing wage gaps between high school, college, and graduate diploma/degree holders but the “why.” If the conclusions of the article are correct, then we get a substantial clue as to the potential earnings power of any given student as well as some applicability for those considering their options. Continue reading Chart: Why Widening Wage Gap by Education Level?