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Growing Skills Gap in College Grads

RHS 2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the ugly reality is that America devotes more resources to higher education than other high-income countries . For about half of the approximately 2 million high school graduates that will enroll this fall in a quest for a four-year degree, and college for many will prove a lousy investment  both for the nation and those students who will emerge heavily in debt.

The guiding premise beneath federal student loan programs beginning with the 1958 National Defense Education Act is that  college is a good investment. For the nation, a better-prepared labor force increases productivity, and for students, because graduates earn better pay.

Now over seventy percent of high school graduates enroll in college but judged by math and reading scores, too many are unqualified and only about 60% graduate. The other 40% borrow huge sums, but their earning power is not much improved.

College debt often haunts students for decades and handicaps goals like marriage, starting families and purchasing homes that would simply be more attainable had they never set foot on a college campus.

Although the average college graduate earns about $33,000 a year more than the typical high school graduate, about one quarter of graduates , 15% of students enrolled as freshmen earn no more and often less than the average high school graduate. They simply would have been better off learning a skill through the military or an apprenticeship program.

For the US economy over half of the student loans offered to freshmen actually lower national productivity and gross domestic product, because money spent on tuition could have been better invested elsewhere like better roads, support for private apprenticeship programs, R&D grants to develop artificial intelligence and other technologies.

Students enrolled in college are generally not working full time. That deprives students and the national economy of as much as $96,000 of income and buying power over four years for each student that does not belong in college.

The federal government takes losses on unpaid loans when students default. If the banks that made the loans and colleges that enrolled unqualified students had to bear those losses, rest assured they would screen students more carefully a lot of unqualified applicants would only be admitted if their parents footed the bill.

Universities would not be so eager to push majors that do not impart job skills .They would ensure students spent more time in the classroom and learned something useful and less time at student unions or demonstrating for social causes.

Your college major has a huge impact on the size of your paycheck later on. Pharmacy majors earn a median salary of $100,000, while music majors make $36,000.

A new ranking by personal finance website orders majors by the median income and unemployment rates they lead to. With the cost of attending college exploding over the last few decades, it’s important to understand how much your degree can earn you in the future.

“Picking a major is a huge decision and it has financial impacts for the rest of your life,” said Adrian Garcia, a data analyst at

Students shouldn’t borrow more than they expect to earn in their first year of employment, said Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of “Borrowers should assume the lower end of the income range,” he added.

People who study naval architecture and marine engineering pick up a median income of $90,000, and their unemployment rate is just 1.6%, found.

Nuclear engineers typically make $98,100, and just 1.8% can’t land a job.

Genetics majors are likely to earn $85,000 a year, and merely 1.2% are unemployed. Electrical engineers have a median salary of $99,000 and an unemployment rate of 2.7%.

Independent assessments show that 40% of college graduates lack essential critical thinking and problem-solving skills required by businesses for entry-level of management and professional positions. It is no surprise that 40% of college graduates end up serving coffee at Starbucks, waiting tables or some other position that does not require a bachelor’s degree.
The fact is  all the money miss-spent on high education has left the US has a serious skills gap . A better proven option for many young people would be to enroll in apprenticeships or similar private-sector programs. These program have been greatly expanded by the Trump administration, and not just in traditional trades like welding ,electricians and plumbing but there are even  programs that offer a range of opportunities in growing areas like banking, hospitality, information technology and automation systems that define the post-industrial economy.

Trades and apprenticeships provide businesses with skilled workers that US business chronically complain are in short supply.Apprenticeships usually completed in less than four years, students earn while they learn . Upon completion 94% move into positions that pay an average of $70,000 a year, higher than the average starting salary for college graduates about $51,000.

One thought on “Growing Skills Gap in College Grads

  1. Blame the liberals with the college for all mantra.

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