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Domestic News | November 16, 2012

Crash Course 11.16.12

News roundup

Hiring predictions, another school busted for using false data to boost its ranking and international students flooding public colleges

In this Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 photo, Kedao Wang, 21, of Shanghai, China, a senior at the University of Michigan walks on campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Hiring on the rise?: College graduates may have an easier time getting a job after graduation next year, but they might end up wishing they'd spent less time in school, or picked a different career. A new survey of employment opportunities predicts demand for bachelor's degree holders will increase 5 percent, but demand for employees with associate's degrees will increase by about 30 percent. The survey, conducted by Michigan State University's College Employment Research Institute, gathers information from 2,000 U.S. employers. No surprise here--hiring managers say they expect to do most recruiting among business-related majors. Engineers, accountants and computer scientists may have a harder time finding that perfect job. Maybe that's because they've been at the top of hiring lists for the last few years and all of those jobs are filled now. But students with master's level business degrees shouldn't start celebrating yet. Survey responses show companies are more willing to hire graduates with bachelor's degrees, because they don't have to pay them as much. Ouch.

Despite the doom and gloom among college graduates looking for a job, they still have the lowest unemployment rate of any demographic group--3.8 percent. And even though jobs for associate's degree holders are expected to increase, they still have a higher unemployment rate--6.9 percent. Of course, those numbers don't reflect the number of underemployed graduates, no matter what kind of training they have. An MBA with a full-time job at Starbucks probably doesn't consider himself adequately employed.

More fuzzy admissions math: Another school has admitted lying to improve it's ranking in U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" list. Administrators from George Washington University, ranked 51st out of the top 200 schools in the country, announced on Wednesday that admissions officials inflated accomplishments of incoming freshman. Officials told U.S. News that 78 percent of students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. In reality, only 58 percent could be called high achievers. George Washington is the third school this year to admit to fuzzy math, but it received the worst punishment. U.S. News yanked the school from its list altogether and will not reinstate it until next year. Emory University in Georgia and Claremont McKenna College in California also admitted pumping up their admissions data but maintained their rankings. Administrators at George Washington complained a little about unfair treatment and insisted they didn't misrepresent the data on purpose. Given the importance schools place on their rankings, skeptics might find that hard to believe.

Group effort: A consortium of ten schools announced this week it would take a different approach to online education. Rather than restrict students to taking courses taught by faculty on their own campus, the schools will share course offerings, expanding the curriculum available to all students. According to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education, students already enrolled at participating schools can earn credit from any college in the consortium. Students who don't go to any of the member institutions can still apply to take courses. The consortium represents the first effort by schools to share courses online. Although the program will help students take classes not offered on their own campus, it also will offer students studying abroad the opportunity to keep up with their coursework while they're away. Consortium members include: Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

International dilemma: In an update to a story we reported before, the number of international students coming to college in the U.S. continues to rise. According to statistics released this week by the Institute of International Education, international student enrollment increased by 6 percent last year. Students from China made up most of the growth, increasing by 23 percent. Given the improving economic conditions in developing countries, it's not surprising that more middle class families want to send their students to study in America. But the schools they choose to attend are changing, expanding past the Ivy League to public schools in the Midwest.

Five years ago, Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., had only 87 Chinese undergraduate students. This year, 2,224 Chinese students enrolled. International students make up about 15 percent of the school's student body. International students also have a large presence at Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and the Universities of Minnesota and Illinois.The schools covet international students because they pay out of state tuition, and sometimes even pay an out-of-country surcharge. The extra money could help schools balance budgets at a time when governments are cutting back and more local students are looking for financial aid. But critics accuse public schools of putting money ahead of their mission to educate American students. Every international student who enrolls in a public university takes a seat that could be occupied by someone from the U.S.