Proving Immediate Student Value Post-Graduation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Nicole Smith, Chief Economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce returns to the podcast to talk about the counterintuitive findings from their new series of reports on “The Uncertain Pathway from Youth to a Good Job”, and whether or not our graduates’ immediate economic self-sufficiency needs to become our primary mandate.

You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect e D U podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the workforce. Nicole, welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Really excited to have you back and to talk with you today about the need to prove more immediate value to our students post graduation. But before we dig into that, can you remind the listeners about both Georgetown versity and your role there? So at Georgetown University, I am the chief economist at the Georgetown University Center and Education and the workforce. We spend a lot of time forecasting jobs, Opportunity Growth, looking at the growth path for young adults and trying to really smooth that transition towards adulthood. So that people can make better decisions regarding the types of major stay engage in, the types of initial jobs they're employed in and really their long term personal, ectobotic development. It's such important work and so important we understand what that reality actually is. I could be more impressed with the work and the research your team is doing. I couldn't wait to get you back in the show to talk about it. So, Nicole, to kick us off today, can you give us just a high level overview on this series of reports on the uncertain pathway from youth to a good job and what your team was hoping to dig into and uncos or with...

...this research? So what's been happening is that we have noticed that the average American is taking longer and longer to transition to adulthood, and this is through, for the most part, through no faults of their own. Times have changed, it's more expensive to go to school, the education requirements have changed, jobs have become much more complex. So we felt that it was our responsibility to try to smoothen that path and increase the amount of transparency there was in terms of what types of majors you should pursue, what types of career pathways you should engage in so that you can become a successful, productive member of society. So what we've been doing is really having conversations with America's youth about how you walk down that road to adopthood. Yeah, and those, those conversations, those qualitative understandings, are fascinating. I think perhaps one of the bigger quantitative AH HA moments for me in the research was seeing the generational differences in terms of when millennials are reaching economic self sufficiency compared to prior generations. Can you talk us through that data and difference? So that that is quite surprising to attach to the see it on paper, but for most of us we have our own personal anecdotes that support some of these longer trends. And one of the first anecdotes that I can think about is I can think of my parents and my grandparents who, by the age of twenty, had already transitioned to adulthood. They were married, they were parents themselves, they have their own homes and they've been working for, in some cases very many years. So now we're fast forward to this generation where you know that most...

...people do not attain a good job until their early thirties. So that's our definition are of transitioning to adulthood when you get to that good job, and that good job is around thirty five thousand dollars for entry level, around fifty six for your median entry level. You know, those who begin that job at that time. And we've noticed that over time it's taking longer and longer for an individual to obtain that good job and to actually begin their pathway to adulthood, and the reason for that is they're spending much more time in school, ramping up to that bachelor's degree or certificate, certification, associates degree so that they can get to that job, ramping up through opportunities for training so that they can train for that job, and then just ramping up in general in terms of their experience, so attaining that level of experience required so they can get that salary associated with that good job. So it's taken a lot longer and the road is, the pathway, is much it's it's a cobblestone path. It's not just as smooth as as it used to be and it's, you know, it's it's really our responsibility to help the next generation as much as possible. Yeah, it was. It was slightly depressing to see that in some ways it looks like we're heading the wrong way and strangely it looks like higher it as a factor there in this long period of delay to a good job, even though it often is the precise on ramp needed to get there. But we're living in a market where the value of Higher Ed is in deeper question than ever before. Could this be partially because of this that the R O I of college isn't felt quickly enough upon graduation, that our graduates aren't reaching economic self? So I and see fast enough after gration...

...to mentally credited back to their university once they get there, I would be much more careful about pointing the finger towards higher Ed and and if even if I do point a finger, it will be for different reasons. So we know that for many education is really going to be the singular pathway for many to get that opportunity. If you are born in the particular family and particular side of the tracks, you know you don't necessarily have the family wealth and family opportunitily and you turn around and you know you might have booths but you don't have those stress. The education is that one way that we can level the playing feeling, level at playing ground. We can point the finger with Higher Ed, because higher reed has not necessarily done such a good job with helping us to identify which ones and, to be frank, it's not there respon mossibility to do that. Right. They're going to go offer you all you take, whatever you want, but we all know that there are some types of majors, some types of training, some types of degree, certificates and certifications that pay off more in the marketplace and when we go to hire that that conversation, what we get back is, Hey, not everyone is motivated by money. Not everyone is motivated but motivated solely by what it pays in the marketplace, and that's absolutely correct. So I maintain again it's not necessarily the responsibility don't line them up, but it's a responsibility to know. So transparency is the issue here. We need to know two years after graduating, four years after graduating, ten years after graduating, how much do you earn? How much do you earn in these particular types of majors, what types of occupations do these majors open the doors too, and how difficult it is for you, for you to get into these occupation? How difficult is...

...it? Are you successful in these occupations? And for someone who looks like me, walks like me, has the same type of background like me, would that person be successful in that job? And that's something that we have not done a good job of making sure that people understand. So what we're faced with is too many Americans, at the end of four years and sadly at the end of six years, standing back and looking backwards and looking forward to towards amountain of student loan debt and looking backwards to all of the failed decisions that they need and not having had that adequate amount of counseling or that adequate amount of information to make better decisions. And that is how you point a finger and hire it. Yeah, and let's talk about that finger and that responsibility that we have. What if this word to become our mandate or one of our mandates? Are Graduates Economic Self Sufficiency immediately upon graduation? Is that doable, and can we afford not to take a stronger focus or mandate here? Well, everything is doable. It's at the level of political will and you know, and the question is, are you going to make it doable with a characteristic right. We believe that more people are much more responsible to caress. So you provide the incentive for that, and that incentive could be in terms of access to pell or access to, you know, funding for certain types of programs that give you the required outcome or positive outcome. It was attempted before through gainful legisats, gain ful employment legislation, if we recall gainful employment legislation or something that the two administrations ago, try to try to impose this rule on the for profit it's and essentially, you know,...

...for profits will not have access to government funding or government money for for grants and tell and that sort of thing, unless their graduates from those programs were able to demonstrate that they were graduating into programs provided gainful employment. While they got sued and the entire plan was a flop. But at the end of the day, many people can identify with what the the you know, the underbelly of the program is all about, and it's just exactly what you said. To make sure that there's returns to investment. I mean, if I'm investing in my own person, I'm investing in my own future, then I have to make sure that I know where that money is coming from. I have to understand what the potential returns from returns to investment are and we need to make sure that we don't walk down a pathway to know where let's provide that. Yeah, you're speaking to the inherent complexity in this situation and all the factor and because of that, your team is quick not to suggest any silver bullet solves to this problem, but rather they and you hold a comprehensive list of reform recommendations, any specific ones that you can call out for us? As well as how to think better about this problem, we have to really pay more attention to academic advising and counseling, and this counseling, this is starting impulse set. I mean the type of about advising we're talking about is probably going to take place all the way through from K twelve. You know, once you've made that decision, because you know it's an entire pipeline, and and once you've made that decision to go to college, by the time we enter our college and in your freshman year, you would be influenced...

...by everything that you experienced in the K twelve systems. So you know you're not gonna come into the first year, freshman year, as a brand new minted coin. You're still the product of everything that happened in the previous years. So academic advice is important and so many people enter college without having done any of the dual enrollment programs that are available, without having known at the time they were in high school that they had access to certain types of advanced placement programs and AP courses. That gives them heads up or a leg up in terms of when they ended up in school. So one of the major things that we talked about is career counseling throughout once entire academic career and it intensifies in college, but it really should start in middle school and and maybe through, you know, throughout high school. Exposure, experiential learning, I mean may making sure that people are aware of what these opportunities are so by the time they get to college, career counseling is a regular part off the program that gets you there and I think we haven't not done enough, and and and done that will enough to guarantee that people quite understand exactly what they're getting into when they, you know, take out the student loan and decide to pursue a career for the future. Nicole. It's great stuff. Finally, leave us with some next steps. Advice for institutions. Listen to this well, with understanding of the deep complexity here and the lack of beautiful, easy, silver bullet solves that won't come back impermissible. They want to expedite their students pathway too good jobs upon graduation. How should they think about that challenge? I think one of the first things we talked about is not before you go, we have to make or that every single individual who is clicking...

...that button to apply to post secretaries, any type of post secondary institution, whether it's a associate's degree of bachelor's degree, certificate, certification. You have to know before you go. You have to know the cost of that program you have to know what the prospects are, you have to know what the current pathway is and you have to know what are the job opportunities and you're expected initial income, and that's something we don't do enough. So I you know, as an in terms of advice, I would definitely advise that you you do that type of research and I think you know we should. We should think about what field of study, what program of study, what types of majors we pursue, because those really open doors for other types of occupations. They open doors for opportunity. So we have to have that conversation and then, and I'm always cautious as we use I speak directly to institutions and to post post secondary institutions, because once we say that, they think of what we're saying in the subtext is don't study Shakespeare, Shakespeare's men, you know, only studies, and that is absolutely not what we're saying. What we're saying is, if you study Shakespeare, here are the outcomes, here are the opportunities and here's the examples of people who fit this, where they end up, here's what additional things you need. And if you study stem, here in the outcomes you see. One of the reasons that sixt of student loan debt is held by women. One of the reasons, not the only reason, but one of the reasons, is women disproportionately go to Grad School and women disproportionately go to Grad school because many of the majors that they pursue in Undergrad are only financially can only, you know, provide them with...

...a good, steady financial income if they have a master's degree. You know, even in in in teaching, many teaching so you have to go back to school, you have to get that masters to be and they take that loan offter that masters. We this is not something that people necessarily know when they start off and Undergrad they should know that. So they should know that if you take out this loaning, you pursue the screen, you're gonna have to get a master's to do it. And you know, there's there's information that people should have. For most women you need an additional degree to earn what a man with one level degree lower will earn. That's something we all know but we never talked about. We should make that much more open conversation and not just hidden in the background because we are embarrassed in we still have, you know, gender discrimination in terms of majors and outcomes and earnings, and it still exists. So let's let's have a real conversation about it. Let's I'm glad you've started one today and I'm so grateful for the amazing research that you and your team are putting out. Nicole, thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out, find your research, ask questions for your team. We speak directly to parents, we speak directly to students, we speak directed administrators and university professors. University principles one of the best places to go, especially if you want information on the returns to investment to specific locations, specific schools. You go to C E W center an education on the workforce, C EW Dot Georgetown Dot e Du, and that's where we store all our work. You can read the full report if it's if it gets too heavy, we have the press release, we have the exect suffary, we have something for everyone to make everyone comfortable. But you have to educate yourself, especially when you're going to be spending this type of money to educate and it's for your future. So you...

...have to make sure that you educate yourself, you know ahead of time what you're gonna spend and you have those real conversations with your students. Nicole, it's such important and missional work you're doing, not just for Georgetown, before the industry at large. Thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you so very much every of a wonderful day. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix Education Dot Com. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enroll met growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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