However, a new study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce posits that students are presented with far too many potential answers.
The study — “Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers” — revealed that the number of colleges and universities in the U.S. more than doubled from 1,850 to 4,720 between 1950 and 2014. Additionally, the number of postsecondary study programs more than quintupled — growing from 410 to 2,260 — between 1985 and 2010.
As a result, the report calls for states to help students and their families better understand the postsecondary credentials they aspire to attain, as well as the value of those credentials in the labor market. The study also notes that while college graduates are generally happy with their decision to finish school, more than half would choose a different major, attend a different school, or pursue a different credential.
A misstep here can prove incredibly costly: tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities have grown 19 times faster than family incomes since 1980, according to the study.
“Higher education has become a $500 billion computer without an operating system,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and the report’s lead author, in a press release. “Learners and workers need a modern guidance system with clear and comprehensive consumer information that will help them make good college and career decisions.”
Some states have begun leveraging integrated education and workforce data by developing publicly available information tools in five areas:
• Education Projections, Business Expansion and Workforce Quality
• Program Alignment with Labor Market Demand
• Curriculum Alignment with Workforce Requirements
• Counseling and Career Pathways
• Job Placement and Skills Gap Analysis