Aligning Jobs and Grads:  Fixing Flaws in the Department of Education’s Approach

Posted by Steve Probst on Aug 12, 2016 1:30:00 PM

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What do you do with a B.A. in English?

Well, if you look at the data provided by the Department of Education1, not much.  You can become a high-school teacher.  Fortunately, the reality for English majors, and bachelor’s-degree graduates in general, is not as bleak as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) make it out to be.

A few words of explanation:

  • BLS employment data and the NCES crosswalks from degrees to jobs (CIP to SOC) work reasonably well for academic programs that focus on specific vocational career paths:  students who major in nursing typically end up working as registered nurses.
  • However, more general academic programs, such as Psychology or Liberal Arts, are treated as if graduates are nearly unemployable.
    • The third largest Bachelor’s program is Psychology – but the NCES crosswalk primarily shows jobs that require graduate training (Psychology, Counseling, and Postsecondary Teaching).
    • More than 40,000 students who annually earn Bachelor’s degrees in Liberal Arts, General Studies, or Humanities match only to “Postsecondary Teachers, All Other”.

Gray has corrected this problem so we could give our clients better advice on which programs to Stop, Start, Sustain, or Grow.  Our Program Evaluation System (PES) is a sophisticated database and tool for analyzing student demand, employer demand, and competition for academic programs.  We recently completed a substantial enhancement to PES to improve analysis of Bachelor’s-degree programs.

Gray used a database of over two million employed college graduates to determine what Bachelor’s degrees they receive, what occupations they actually enter, and how much money they actually make.  For Psychology graduates, as an example, the most common careers are in social work, elementary-school teaching, and psychology.  Employed recent graduates earn an average of $32,800 annually, while mid-career graduates earn a bit over $70,000.

With this enhancement, Gray can now help an institution more effectively evaluate the market for programs with diverse graduate career paths.  And with more than eight billion job-market calculations2 needed to implement this enhancement, this is not the kind of dataset you are likely to build yourself.

For more information on our higher education consulting capabilities or how Gray can help you plan and manage your program portfolio, please comment below or contact us.

1 The CIP 2010 to SOC 2010 Crosswalk developed by NCES – the National Center for Education Statistics.
2 72,000 census tracts x nearly 10,000 CIP-SOC matches x 12 SOC-level data elements matched to CIPs.

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Topics: Higher Education