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Unless headed to the NBA or becoming a famous Hollywood starlet, chances are that after high school, many are opting for higher education in order to land a decent job. As the economy suffers, it is making it harder for college graduates and even harder for high school graduates to find jobs.
It is harder for college-bound students to receive an acceptance letter from a college or university in order to further their education, and job openings and opportunities have become scarce over the past few years. Is a college degree the new high school diploma?
As the stakes rise for acceptance into higher education, students are pushed to work harder in the classroom and to study more for a higher standardized test score. According to a report by the Center for Public Education, “it’s more difficult for top students to get into college today than it was a decade ago.”
While there is a spike in applications, it has lead to a lower acceptance rate among colleges and universities. In 2010, the University of Chicago saw an increase of 42% more applications than it did in 2009. In addition, over the past decade, the average numbers of college applications across the United States increased by 20% while the number of seats in college classrooms has steadily remained the same.
Author and researcher Jim Hull reported that in 2004 the average college applicant had a 3.1 GPA, a 21 ACT score and had passed trigonometry and chemistry.
In 2011, there was a huge increase and expectation for the average student to get into college. There were more SAT takers for the class of 2011 than in previous years. According to www.CollegeBoard.com 44% of SAT takers were minority students, 36% were first generation college goers, and 27% of SAT takers do not consider English their primary language.
On the up-side, Hull’s research suggests that “well-prepared minority students had just as good of a chance of getting into a competitive college as their white, well-prepared counterparts.” However, “a lower percentage of minority students have the necessary classes, test scores and grades to apply.”
It should come as no surprise that more students are enrolling in college annually, considering the vast difference in national incomes between high school graduates and college graduates. Back in 1980, men made an average of $44,000 whether they had a high school or college degree.
Meanwhile women made almost $29,000 whether they had a high school or college degree. Today, however, the numbers are drastically different contingent on one’s education level. In 2009, men with a high school diploma made approximately $33,000 annually while women with an equivalent education made only $25,000. For men that had Bachelor’s degrees, the annual average income was $51,000 while the equivalent for women was $41,000.
“In today’s knowledge-based, global economy, it’s more critical than ever that American students are adequately prepared to pursue advanced degrees and compete for the jobs of the future, said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Based on Hull’s research, he has given some advice to the college-bound student. First, having straight A’s is not always the most important thing. Hull recommends for students to study and focus on their standardized test scores, and to take it as much as possible in order to achieve the highest score.
Also, start taking harder classes, rather than a class that will give out an easy A, even if it lowers your GPA. Hull has done a ton of research on extracurricular activities and found that there was no direct correlation between getting into your dream college with a long list of extracurricular activities. Instead, get involved in one or two that you are really interested in.
Lastly, focus on your writing samples and resume, suggests Hull. If college bound students can work toward those few things, it can make a significant difference if they get into a good college, or more importantly, if they get into college at all.