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Education

Is a Bachelor’s Degree Still Worth the Investment?

A breakdown of cost vs. return for career earning potential

Many reports have indicated that having a bachelor’s, master’s, or other advanced degree can boost earning potential. But is the cost of getting those degrees worth the effort — and dollars spent — to earn it?
 
AOL Jobs reports that despite the high cost of higher education, advocates contend that a college degree is indeed worth the investment, “resulting in total lifetime earnings that are about $1 million more than for those with a high-school diploma.” And with employers expecting workers to exercise more skills and take on the work load of other departments that may have been downsized due to the economic climate, having advanced training has become a necessity in today’s global climate.
 
Check out a breakdown of investment vs. return when it comes to higher education at AOL Jobs …

America's Top Graduate Business Schools: U.S. News And World Report

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has nabbed the No. 1 spot in U.S. News and World Report's 2012 ranking of graduate business schools.
The Harvard Business School came in close second, followed by MIT's Sloan School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school, which tied for third place.
To compile their rankings, U.S. News obtained data from 142 of the 437 accredited master's programs in the U.S. and sorted them according to academic quality and selectivity and post-grad placement success. In addition to its overall rankings, U.S. News divided the schools into best part-time M.B.A programs and best of specialty areas, including international, entrepreneurship and finance.
Below, check out which schools topped the list of U.S. News' best business programs overall. U.S. News has the full list, plus more on methodology and profiles of each school.
Did your school make the cut? Let us know in the comments section.
 
College Admissions Rates Drop For The Class Of 2015College admissions rates for the class of 2015 fell across the board, figures released this week show.
Harvard University saw its acceptance rate drop to an all-time low of 6.2 percent from a record-setting pool of 35,000 applicants.
Columbia University, which saw its applicant pool balloon by 32 percent this year, accepted a mere 6.4 percent of prospective students. As the Columbia Spectator points out, that rate is lower than Harvard's overall acceptance rate from last year, which was 6.92 percent.
Rounding out the top five most competitive schools are Stanford University, with a 7.1 percent acceptance rate; Yale University, at 7.4 percent, and Princeton University, 8.4 percent.
Below, see the acceptance rates of 17 highly selective colleges. We'll be updating this slideshow as more numbers come in

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With the average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at a private, non-profit four-year college topping out at more than $39,000, you’re likely looking for alternative financing to bridge the gap. Crowdfunding, which involves asking a group of people to help fund a project or need, has traditionally been used by artists looking to fund creative projects and by entrepreneurs seeking to raise start-up costs. But recently, students are using this method to help finance education. By the first quarter of 2012, there were a total of 452 crowd funding platforms across the globe that have raised roughly $1.5 billion for various causes, according to crowdsourcing.org, a crowdfunding industry website.

 

Here are three sites to consider for crowdfunding some of your education costs:

 

GradSave: This college savings registry, which has more than 4,000 members, allows parents, friends, and family members to donate to your education fund. Account setup and maintenance are both free of charge. However, there are transaction fees for donations, starting at $2.99 and $3.99 for gifts made via eCheck or credit card, respectively. In addition, the site allows members to link their GradSave account to a 529 Savings Plan. Unlinked funds are stored in an FDIC-insured escrow account with Bank of America. Once members sign up for an account, and create a profile, they can post their fundraising effort on Facebook, Twitter, and email. In addition, members can track who’s donating to the account with the site’s tracking feature. Furthermore, donors can also purchase a college savings gift card, which can be used toward any 529 Savings Plan or Prepaid Tuition Plan.

 

FiPath: Account users set a savings goal using the site’s tuition estimator tool, and then invite others to help meet the goal. Contributions are received via PayPal and can be transferred into one’s college savings account. The site allows contributors to see the total donation amount so they can follow the goal’s progress—and also see if funds have been withdrawn prematurely.

 

Funding4Learning: Dedicated to funding traditional degrees as well as educational projects, this platform is ideal for those raising money for a certificate program or continuing education class. Funds raised go into a PayPal account. There are two fund-raising options, and each with a different fee structure. The “all-or-nothing” approach–where fund-raisers agree to meet their goal, or forfeit the donated money–has a 5% fee on funds raised if the goal is reached. There are no fees if the goal is not reached. In the direct contribution approach, where fund raisers accept contributions directly as the campaign is in progress—a 5% fee is applied to funds raised, regardless of the outcome.

 

D.C. Politics

Once a national model, now D.C. public schools target of FBI investigation


D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) holds a press conference with public schools Chancellor Antwan D. Wilson to review the findings of an independent audit of the city’s graduation rates. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

By Peter Jamison and Fenit Nirappil February 2, 2018 at 8:28 AM

For much of the past decade the D.C. school system has been the crown jewel of public policy in the nation’s capital, held up as a national model for education reformers and a shared source of pride for the District’s fractious elected officials.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed to D.C. as an example of “what can happen when schools embrace innovative reforms and do the hard work necessary to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and careers.” Philanthropists have poured more than $120 million into the school system since 2007.

Many are now questioning whether that confidence was misplaced.

With the revelation this week that one-third of last year’s high-school graduates - more than 900 young men and women - should not have been awarded diplomas because of truancy and other problems, the school system has turned virtually overnight into an embarrassment for the city and its elected leaders, who are publicly re-examining their assumptions about the system’s progress.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Education and D.C. Office of the Inspector General are investigating the school system, with a focus on Ballou High School, where questions about graduation rates first emerged, according to a current and a former D.C. government employee familiar with the probe.

The FBI and D.C. inspector general’s office declined to comment. An education department spokeswoman did not respond to inquiries.

[Report calls into question hundreds of D.C. public school diplomas]

The scandal is reverberating far beyond the District, as a busy cottage industry of education policy analysts tries to take stock of whether the inflated graduation rates point to more fundamental flaws in D.C. reforms that have been exported to other struggling school districts across the country.

“This absolutely is a challenge to the image that D.C. has burnished as a leader in urban education reform - there’s no question,” said Conor Williams, a senior researcher in the education policy program at the New America Foundation and father of two children in D.C. charter schools. “It’s clear that there are systemic problems around rigor, around accountability and around transparency.”

Williams said those problems should not distract from real improvements that have taken place since the District embarked on its school-reform project in 2007. He pointed to the system’s pre-kindergarten program, which provides near-universal schooling to 3- and 4-year-olds, and to the reshaping of DCPS as a “working, functional bureaucracy.” The graduation scandal was an “embarrassing situation around only one metric,” he said.

Longtime backers of the city’s reform policies say they fear the graduation scandal is distracting from other gains— such as improving standardized test scores and increasing enrollment — and supplying ammunition to critics.

[Some D.C. high schools are reporting only a fraction of suspensions]

“My worry is that elected officials and advocates with their own agenda might try to score political points off this story, rather than embracing the nuances of school improvement,” said Catharine Bellinger, director of the D.C. chapter of Democrats for Education Reform. “Progress is never going to be linear. It’s fast in some areas and slow in some others.”

Such concerns might be premature: There have been no calls from any D.C. public officials to repeal the main tenets of education reform put in place by former mayor Adrian Fenty and schools chancellor Michelle Rhee — such as mayoral control of the public schools and the linking of educators’ salaries and job security to numeric measures such as student test scores and graduation rates.

In fact, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has responded to the crisis by saying those measures will be more rigorously assessed and enforced.

There is also little evidence yet that problems in the schools will do short-term political damage to Bowser’s 2018 reelection campaign. With just four months until the Democratic primary — which typically determines the general election winner in overwhelmingly Democratic D.C. — Bowser is sitting on a $2 million war chest and has no serious opponents.

[Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in school lottery]

The only potential challenger on the horizon, former mayor and current D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), could be poorly positioned to attack Bowser on school problems, since some are blaming Kaya Henderson, the chancellor Gray appointed in 2011, for fostering an organizational culture that overemphasized performance data, creating pressure on school administrators to fudge graduation rates.

“If it is a Bowser versus Gray race, neither one of them have much to say,” said RiShawn Biddle, editor and publisher of the school-reform commentary site Dropout Nation. “And if anything, Bowser will get the credit for cleaning things up.”

The changed political dynamic surrounding public education in the nation’s capital has nevertheless been evident in recent weeks, as Bowser and Antwan D. Wilson, whom she installed as chancellor last year, have felt compelled to defend a school system that for years has provided bragging rights, not political headaches.

“Let’s make no mistake about it: We are in a very different place with our public schools,” Bowser said in a briefing to D.C. Council members Tuesday on the graduation scandal. “I feel very confidently that our public education in the District advanced dramatically in the last 10 years. We see more of our families coming back to our schools. We see significant improvement at the elementary levels.”

[D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is broadly popular as reelection campaign nears]

There have always been flaws in the argument for D.C.’s education-reform experiment as an unalloyed success. The city continues to have some of the nation’s widest achievement gaps between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Some have attributed improved standardized test scores to changing demographics — arguing that gentrification, not better policy, has boosted performance.

Max Eden, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said the revelation of systemically inflated graduation rates is vindication for opponents of metrics-based reform, including teachers’ unions, who have warned for years that students would suffer as their teachers and principals gamed the numbers.

“I think it poses a profound problem for the education reform movement, which held D.C. to be its star child,” Eden said.

Questions about improperly awarded diplomas — first disclosed in a report on Ballou High School by WAMU-FM (88.5) — come on the heels of two other scandals in the last nine months that called into question the integrity of school policies and performance data.

In July, the Washington Post reported that the school system had misrepresented its student suspension rates, barring many students from attending high schools because of behavior problems without formally marking them as suspended.

In May the Post reported that former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson had helped well-connected parents — including two senior Bowser aides — skirt the requirements of a lottery system that is supposed to ensure a fair shot at the best public schools for all families.

[Bowser raises $1.4 million in first 80 days of reelection campaign]

Many questions are still unanswered about the District’s graduation rate, which in 2017 was ostensibly at a record high of 73 percent. A city investigation released Monday found that about one-third of those students should not have graduated because they missed too many classes or improperly took make-up classes.

Teachers felt pressure from school administrators to pass students, the report found, but it is unclear how long that practice has been common and whether there was a deliberate effort to manipulate graduation numbers from top school officials.

Responsibility for the situation is also muddied by the school system’s leadership changes over the past 18 months: Henderson stepped down in September 2016, and was succeeded by an interim chancellor, John Davis, who was in turn replaced by Wilson in February 2017 — about four months before the class of 2017 that is now under scrutiny graduated.

Wilson, with Bowser’s backing, has pledged to retrain principals and teachers on the city’s graduation policies and begin a centralized review of graduates’ academic transcripts to ensure that they are eligible to receive diplomas. By 2022, he says, schools citywide will also hold end-of-course exams to assess whether students mastered material in core subjects.

But after the latest scandal, future claims to have fixed this problem — and others in the schools — could be met with more intense scrutiny than in the past.

“When we are told repeatedly that numbers are rising and progress that we are making is fantastic and wonderful, and then we find out it may be based on faulty or fudged information,” said D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), “that makes one skeptical.”

Moriah Balingit and Perry Stein contributed to this report.