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Ben Sasse – The Vanishing American Adult

Do we really need another book about entitled millennials? Or about the helicopter parents who raise these precious darlings? Senator Ben Sasse’s The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance exceeds expectations. It challenges both parents and our culture, offering compelling and timely solutions.

The Problem

Sasse has no issue with adolescence. The problem is one of perpetual adolescence — an indefinite period in which youth are passive and aimless. Why is this so common? In part because teens today are used to an unprecedented degree of comfort. Raising kids once meant adding small (but necessary) workers to the family.

Teens today are used to an unprecedented degree of comfort. Our kids may be safer, but they’re also softer. But our wealth, technology, and digital economy have radically changed this pattern. We now emphasize the protection of our children rather than their productivity. While our kids may be safer, they’re also softer — more hooked on comforts like AC, their own bedroom, an Xbox, etc. They are unfamiliar with manual labor at a time when lifelong learning and flexibility are more important than ever in our disrupted economy.

Read the rest of the review here.

Must all Graduates Wander Aimlessly in Their Twenties?

selingo-bookUntil recently, a bachelor’s degree was a sure ticket to social mobility and a promising career. But today’s graduates face unprecedented headwinds in the form of declining wages, ballooning student debt, and greater competition for fewer jobs.

That’s the case journalist Jeff Selingo makes in an insightful new book, There is Life After College (HarperCollins). “The plight of today’s young adults,” writes Selingo, “is a result of a longer-term shift in the global workforce that is having an outsized impact on people in their twenties who have little work experience.”

Selingo presents his case persuasively. Young adult unemployment is at its highest point in four decades, peaking at 9 percent a few years ago. Of arguably greater consequence, nearly half of college graduates in their twenties are underemployed, beating out their less educated peers for barista and clerical jobs. With a glut of supply, employers can be choosy, leading to the increasingly common “unpaid internship” expectation, and other forms of “try before you buy” hiring. To make matters worse, student debt loads among recent graduates are at an all-time high and starting salaries are barely budging. While Mom and Dad once beamed when their child received his or her diploma, the uncertainty and instability of the early professional years now give parents reason to worry afresh.

Read the rest of it.

Only 11% of employers think graduating students have the skills that their businesses need

Now HiringHow can employers be simultaneously unhappy with the quality of recent graduates and more desirous of hiring people with greater amounts of formal education? Ryan Craig, founding Managing Director of University Ventures, writes:

What we’re seeing from employers—the ultimate consumers of higher education—is the result of dissatisfaction with the current level of talent being produced by colleges and universities. Employers are dissatisfied and are flailing about for answers. For many employers, this means credential inflation—requiring certain degrees for jobs that previously didn’t require them. An equally logical response for others is openness to alternative credentials.

Read the whole thing.

5 Suggestions for Getting a College Degree Without Going Broke

collegeThough it may have gotten buried with the New Year’s holiday, I had an article published in Fox News Opinion on how to get a college degree without going broke. I outlined five things every student can do. Here’s the opening:

The disappearance of low-skilled jobs and a rising earnings premium sparked a dramatic uptick in college enrollment over the past few decades.

At first, students could afford it, graduating with minimal (if any) debt, and entering an expanding job market with rising wages.

But now? Real median household income is down 6.5% from 2007-2014. Salaries for 25-34 year olds have remained stagnant for a decade. Meanwhile, the price of college continues its precipitous rise. And countless students and families feel caught between a rock and a hard place: They can’t afford to send their kids to college, but their kids can’t afford not to have degrees.

Read the whole thing.

I outline five things students can do to get a degree without going broke.

1.Prioritize value over prestige when choosing a college.

2. Leverage skills to earn higher wage income during college.

3. Have a game plan to finish.

4. Be expeditious about graduating.

5. Have a greater understanding of how the system works.

These are unpacked further in my book, Beating the College Debt Trap.

Why more teenagers and college students need to work while in school

Jeff Selingo is right: Too few college students hold a significant part-time job before graduation. As a result, they struggle with professionalism in the work place. Selingo reports that “the number of teenagers who have some sort of job while in school has dropped from nearly 40 percent in 1990 to just 20 percent today, an all-time low since the United States started keeping track in 1948.”

Why aren’t more students working? Reasons include a poor labor market for teens and the fact that minimum wage earnings don’t go far relative to escalating college prices (tuition, fees, textbooks, etc.). Many students decide it’s better (or easier) to take out loans and focus on getting good grades.

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Why Write Another Book for College Students?

BeatingCollegeDebtTrap_finalCover.inddAfter writing Thriving at College, why write another book for students? How does Beating the College Debt Trap differ from Thriving at College?

Thriving at College is about making the most of the college years, about using that season in life as a launching pad into all that’s associated with responsible Christian adulthood. But while I briefly addressed money management skills, the whole idea of paying for college is more or less assumed.

In the four years since I wrote Thriving at College, the economics of college have continued to evolve. In 2013, a majority of families (57 percent) reported a student living at home or with a relative, up from 43 percent in 2010. Online education is increasingly popular. “Non-traditional” college students (i.e., not 18-23 year olds enrolled full-time) have become increasingly numerous. And, of course, a greater Continue Reading…

The Empty-Headedness of the Million Student March

I have an article in today’s Stream about the recent Million Student March. Here’s the opening:

Amidst the recent potpourri of petulant pouting on college campuses around the country, in “safe spaces” and elsewhere, you’ll be forgiven if you missed the news of a Million Student March. On November 12, these student marchers took to their respective campuses and communities with three specific demands:

1.Tuition-Free Public College

2. Cancellation of All Student Debt

3. $15 Minimum Wage for All Campus Workers

Their arguments were not new. As the group’s website reads: “The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education.” In other words, if the rich would only pay their fair share, students could attend college for free. After all, public high school is already free. If college is now essential for accessing the jobs of tomorrow, why not put that on the public coffers too?

Read the rest of it. And check out my new book, Beating the College Debt Trap. Those who pre-order it get a free 130 page e-book.

Grade-Changing Dean at Texas Tech Resigns

DeanLanceNailMoral of the story? Don’t mess with the professor’s assigned grade. Scott Jaschik, with Inside Higher Ed, writes:

Jay Conover, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Texas Tech University, got quite a surprise when he learned three of his former students graduated from the business school’s graduate program this year. He was surprised because he had given the students grades so low he thought they wouldn’t be able to graduate.

It turns out the Business School’s Dean, Lance Nail, had gone behind Conover’s back to get another prof to set up an alternate exam for a group of five students who complained Continue Reading…

Colleges Coddle Students, Too

Image result for images students on college campusGreat piece by Jeff Selingo. The opening:

An article in this week’s Washington Post nicely summarized a new book on the failings of helicopter parenting, especially when it comes to preparing kids for college.

But parents shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for why college students seem incapable of taking care of themselves these days. In the past decade, college campuses have turned into one big danger-free zone, where students live in a bubble and are asked to take few, if any, risks in their education.

Read the whole thing. It’s excellent. Students need objective, regular, and (when appropriate) constructively critical assessment–as do the rest of us. It’s how the real world operates, and it’s how we get better.

Repayments Rates are More Telling than Default Rates

Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is the federal government’s standard accountability metric for colleges. It refers to the percentage of a college’s graduates from a specific year who default on their student loans.

The problem is it’s a super-easy test to pass: As long as fewer than 40 percent of your alumni default on their student loans within three years of entering repayment, and as long as your CDR doesn’t go above 30 percent for three straight years, you’re good. That’s why only 11 colleges have been penalized in the last decade–even though almost 500 colleges had CDRs over 25 percent in 2014.

Failing to repay your student loans does not necessarily mean you’re in default on those loans. Repayment is a higher standard than merely not defaulting. Because it takes about a year of not making your regular payments to enter default–and that’s only if you don’t enter deference or forbearance first.

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