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Saturday, July 27, 2013
Research shows plunge in those high-paying jobs
In a development that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, some law schools around the country are shrinking. A few are even laying off faculty. The cause, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, is fewer law school applications and declining overall enrollment.
To say that University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos saw this coming would be an understatement. He's been sounding the alarm for years about the financial risk of attending law school in a glutted legal market. He even wrote a book on the topic: "Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor's Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk" (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012).
Apparently such warnings are finally having an effect — although Campos would argue, as I learned when speaking to him recently, that many more prospective students still need to get the word.
Carroll: So what is the problem that prompted you to write the book?
Campos: Starting in 2010, I started to get indications that the employment numbers being published by law schools gave a very distorted picture of the actual situation for law graduates. This was a product of my own research into the published data but also a series of anecdotal experiences with graduates who couldn't get legal work, or at least decently paying legal work.
So that prompted a research project that resulted in my doing a lot a writing on the subject and also a blog for 19 months, Inside the Law School Scam. Eventually I decided to write an accessible, non-academic guide of the kind that would be useful to people considering law school.
Carroll: Many people seem to believe that going to law school is a ticket to a high-paying job. But you say the legal profession has been hit by the digital revolution just like other professions.
Campos: The perception that going to law school is a ticket to great wealth or at least very solidly upper middle-class status was always somewhat exaggerated, but over the past 15 years the disjunction between myth and reality has widened because the information technology revolution has hit the legal services market very hard. That has led to a sharp decline in the portion of GDP that goes to legal services, from about 2 percent 35 years ago to 1.37 percent in 2009 and probably more since then. That's a decline of a third, which is an enormous relative decline.
Carroll: I take it another motive for you was the number of law school graduates who don't end up practicing law at all.
Campos: Right. Or who only end up practicing law in a very tenuous or temporary fashion. We have some pretty good data on what happens to people, say, nine months after graduation. But our data are not as good for what happens to people five and 10 years later. What we do know is that there are about twice as many people of working age with law degrees as there are practicing attorneys. We also know that barely even half of all law graduates are getting real legal jobs within nine months after graduation.
So you have a sort of double whammy. Many graduates aren't getting into the profession at all, and a number of those who do survive for a few years then wash out because of a tremendous oversaturation in the market. Unless you are in certain elite sectors of the law, practicing law is a continual struggle as opposed to a stable and predictable career.
Carroll: And hanging over many graduates is a heavy debt load.
Campos: Everybody knows in a vague way that the price of higher education has been outstripping inflation for a long time, but when you focus on actual numbers it's utterly astounding. In inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars, Harvard Law School in the 1950s cost $5,000 per year in tuition. By 1970, it was about $12,500 a year. By 1980, it was $16,000. By 1990, it was $27,000. By 2000, it was $35,000, and [in 2012 it was] $53,000. And Harvard Law School is completely typical because law schools, especially elite law schools, all tend to charge the same tuition. So Harvard Law School costs 10 times more in real dollars than it did 50 years ago.
And the change at public universities is even more drastic. Basically, the cost of going to law school 30 years ago at a public school was the opportunity cost. You were taking yourself out of the workforce for three years. You could go to the University of Colorado Law School 30 years ago for $2,500 a year in current dollars — basically like a cable bill with a couple of premium channels today. And CU Law School is typical in that regard in that we have essentially privatized, and we cost now as much as Harvard did a dozen years ago, again adjusting for inflation.
Carroll: With the upshot being large debt?
Campos: Yes, although here the figures are misleading because when law schools report debt, they report the number of loans people have taken out during law school. But that's not the same thing as the actual debt, because interest accrues on those loans from the time they are taken out. So law school debt alone six months after graduation, when the grace period expires, for people graduating from private law schools is about $150,000 on average. That's just law school debt, not education debt in general.
There was a study recently that showed college graduates had an average college debt of $35,000. So it may be no exaggeration to say that somewhere close to half of all law school graduates are graduating with $200,000 or more of educational debt. And this debt has an average interest rate of 7.5 percent.
Now if these people were making $150,000 a year as junior associates at law firms, the debt would still be quite significant. But median salary of people who graduated from law schools last year was around $45,000. There is absolutely no way it makes sense economically to incur $150,000 in debt and end up with a $45,000-a-year job. That's what economists call negative net present value in terms of the value of the degree. That means the degree is not worthless, but worse than worthless.
Carroll: You say there are so few jobs for new graduates in local government as public defenders or prosecutors and at non-profits that prospective students need to look at how successful law schools are at placing graduates in law firms. And you say the surest path to long-term success are jobs with firms with 100 or more attorneys or federal clerkships. How many law schools place, say, half their graduates in those two categories?
Campos: Maybe a dozen out of about 200 ABA-accredited schools. Even placing a quarter of students in jobs like that includes maybe 20 to 25 schools. From there, you quickly drop to schools where 10 percent or fewer graduates are securing jobs with a reasonable prospect of getting sufficient return in the near future on the degree to justify the debt load. What we're seeing is massive market failure.
Let's remember that most lawyers do not make huge incomes. A relatively small number do. And there is another subset that makes large incomes, solidly into six figures. But especially now, most lawyers make incomes that do not in any way make it reasonable to incur the kind of debt.
Carroll: What about the argument that a law degree is valuable because it enhances your ability to do so many other things?
Campos: There is no real evidence for that at all. It's true that there are jobs other than being a lawyer for which a law degree can be beneficial, such as being a compliance officer with a corporation where your job is to check whether the corporation is breaking laws or not. But there aren't a lot of those jobs, and there is a much larger category of jobs ... for which a law degree is of no benefit or is even an active detriment.
Many employers do not want to hire someone who has a law degree because they don't want someone who a) they think is going to leave for one of these mythical high-paying jobs as soon as one becomes available, and b) may have something wrong with them because why are they trying to get a job as an X when they could be a lawyer, and c) may be more prone to sue them, and d) belongs to a professional group that most Americans don't necessarily have warm and fuzzy feelings about.
It is absolutely irresponsible for law school administrators to claim that a J.D. has positive value for purposes other than practicing law.
Carroll: What should students do in considering law school?
Campos: They should not consider even applying without getting the granular information they need to analyze what is happening to graduates. And that means getting the full and complete information these schools submit every year to the National Association of Law Placement and the ABA. Just say, "I want to see your long NALP form, because that will show me without any names what the outcomes are for your graduates and will include salary information." And if a school won't give it to you, then don't apply .
Then make a rational calculation of what the odds are that you will be able to do what you want to do if you go to this school. Don't go to law school unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to do. "Being a lawyer" is not a clear idea of what you want to do.
Carroll: What should law schools do to address these problems?
Campos: Law schools need to tremendously reduce their cost of operation and the number of people who are graduating from law school. We should be graduating about half as many people. Students should be paying at most half as much as they're paying now. To get there, there absolutely has to be reform at the level of federal educational loans. That's the original sin here. Anyone who is admitted to law school can borrow 100 percent of the total cost of attendance as calculated by the law school from the federal government, no questions asked. And that has had completely predictable effects in terms of the price structure of legal education.
E-mail Vincent Carroll at email@example.com.
High hopes, dismal outcomes
• Only about half of current law school graduates are acquiring jobs as lawyers, even if we define what counts as working as a lawyer in the most generous possible terms.
• The median salary for the national law school Class of 2011 nine months after graduation was around $45,000.
• Some law schools, including some very highly ranked institutions, are putting 20 percent or more of their graduates into short-term, low-paying, school-funded "jobs" to boost the schools' reported graduate employment rates.
• Despite such shenanigans, one in every seven law school graduates in 2011 was completely unemployed nine months after graduation.
• The average educational debt of new law school graduates is close to $150,000 and rising rapidly.
• If everyone who graduated from law school over the past 35 years were working as a lawyer today, there would be an estimated 1.5 million practicing attorneys in America. The actual number: 728,000.
• Columbia Law School estimates the cost of attending the 2012-13 academic year at $79,950 (tuition, fees and living expenses).
• Only 23 percent of Columbia grads finish law school with no school debt whatsoever.
Read more: Carroll: Many law school degrees "worse than worthless" - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/carroll/ci_23733599/carroll-many-law-school-degrees-worse-than-worthless#ixzz2aI7rUw00
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Thursday, July 11, 2013
Please feel free to share and adapt this activity!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman
CALLING AND CAREERS
An assignment for Introduction to Philosophical Ethics
with Professor Nathan Nobis
This assignment is intended to help you think about your “calling” and what careers would enable you to truly “come alive” in your work and so achieve the benefits, for you and others, of your work being you an expression of and engagement with your unique talents, skills, insights and gifts to the world.
Your responses to the prompts below should be thorough, thoughtful, well-written and typed.
1. Self exploration:
First, please take some time to carefully and thoroughly reflect on your interests, abilities and experiences and answer these questions, ideally with input from insightful and caring people who know you well (e.g., parents, longtime friends, close relatives, etc.):
· What do you love doing? What kind of activities do you really enjoy? When does “time fly” for you because you are so immersed in the task(s)?
· When are you at your best, when you are working on a project or a task? What kind of activities, projects or challenges give you the opportunity to shine, i.e., show your best?
· What are you especially good at? Where are your talents?
· What have other people observed and shared with you about your talents and passions?
2. Personality assessment:
Second, please take a Myers-Briggs personality assessment. This test attempts to evaluate someone’s personality style along these dimensions:
· Extraversion (E) - (I) Introversion
· Sensing (S) - (N) Intuition
· Thinking (T) - (F) Feeling
· Judging (J) - (P) Perception
You can find tests by Googling “Myers Briggs test” and related terms, as well as in the Do What You Are book below. If you’d like, you can take multiple tests, to see if they have differing results. Please read to understand the test and what varying results can mean.
Please write down your Myers-Briggs personality “type” or types, as well as any observations and questions you have about your type: e.g., “Yes, this is me, because…!” or “I seem to be in the middle of these two traits because…” Reflect on what the test says about you: do you agree? Disagree? How?
3. Careers for your type:
Next, take your personality type and check out this book on reserve in the library:
Do what you are : discover the perfect career for you through the secrets of personality type, Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron (New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2007); on Reserve for Philosophy 302, call number: BF698.9.O3 T54 2007.
The book’s and author’s webpage (with Myers-Briggs tests) is here: http://www.personalitytype.com/
For each personality type, this book lists many careers that are likely to “fit” that personality type and it explains why these careers might be especially good for people of that type. Carefully read these pages and photocopy or photograph them, so you keep them.
Please write down these careers. Please answer these questions:
· Which look especially interesting to you and seem appropriate for your personality type?
· Are any of these careers ones you have never thought of? Are any surprising? How so?
· Which, if any, “fit” with the observations you made of yourself in the “Self exploration” area above?
· Are any of these careers ones that you think you would “come alive” working in? Which? Why?
· Which of these careers will you learn more about? What will you do to learn more them?
4. Ethics / Philosophical Aspects of Potential Careers
Since this is an ethics (or philosophy) course, we must have some ethics and philosophy-related questions for you to discuss:
· What are some of the ethical (or philosophical) issues relevant to some (at least 3) of the careers you are potentially interested in?
· Are there important ethical challenges to any of these careers, e.g., arguments that people in them sometimes, or maybe even often, act wrongly in their jobs?
· Could working in these careers make you a better person and the world a better place? How so? Why?
5. Please make an appointment to share and discuss your findings with your professor!
Please make sure you answer all the questions asked here and, of course, feel free to share more self-observations, reflections, knowledge gained, advice and anything else you think is important to your finding careers that fit your falling!
Friday, July 5, 2013
This originally appeared on LinkedIn. You can follow Vivek Wadhwa here
When students asked me what subjects they should major in to become a tech entrepreneur, I would say engineering, mathematics, and science. I used to believe that education in these fields was a prerequisite for innovation, and that engineers made the best entrepreneurs.
That was several years ago.
I realized how much my views have changed when the The New York Times asked me to write a piece for its “Room for Debate” forum two years ago. Since then, I have learned even more about the importance of design and the role of the humanities in fostering creativity. I now believe that the innovation economy needs musicians, artists, and psychologists, as much as biomedical engineers, computer programmers, and scientists.
I advise students to study subjects in which they have the most passion. They must have the discipline to complete their bachelors degree from any good school—not overpriced elite institutions that will burden them with debt and limit their life options. With a bachelors degree, they gain valuable social skills, learn how to interact and work with others, how to compromise, and how to deal with rejection and failure. Most importantly, they learn what it is that they don’t know and where to find this knowledge when they need it.
The NY Times had asked me to comment on the divergence of opinion between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In a speech before the National Governors Association, Gates had argued that we need to spend our limited education budget on disciplines that produce the most jobs. He implied that we should reduce our investment in the liberal arts because liberal-arts degrees don’t correlate well with job creation. Three days later, at the unveiling of the iPad 2, Steve Jobs had said: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing, and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”
Here is what I wrote for The Times:
It’s commonly believed that engineers dominate Silicon Valley and that there is a correlation between the capacity for innovation and an education in mathematics and the sciences. Both assumptions are false.My research team at Duke and Harvard surveyed 652 U.S.-born chief executive officers and heads of product engineering at 502 technology companies. We found that they tended to be highly educated: 92 percent held bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent held higher degrees. But only 37 percent held degrees in engineering or computer technology, and just two percent held them in mathematics. The rest have degrees in fields as diverse as business, accounting, finance, health care, and arts and the humanities.Gaining a degree made a big difference in the sales and employment of the company that a founder started. But the field that the degree was in and the school that it was obtained from were not a significant factor.Over the past year, I have interviewed the founders of more than 200 Silicon Valley start-ups. The most common traits I have observed are a passion to change the world and the confidence to defy the odds and succeed.It is the same in business. In the two companies I founded, I was involved in hiring more than 1000 workers over the years. I never observed a correlation between the school of graduation or field of study, on one hand, and success in the workplace, on the other. What make people successful are their motivation, drive, and ability to learn from mistakes, and how hard they work.And then there is the matter of design. Steve Jobs taught the world that good engineering is important but that what matters the most is good design. You can teach artists how to use software and graphics tools, but it’s much harder to turn engineers into artists.Our society needs liberal-arts majors as much as it does engineers and scientists.
But here is a harsh reality: that employment prospects are dim for liberal-arts majors. Graduates from top engineering schools are always in high demand, but PhDs in English from even the most prestigious universities often can’t get jobs. The data I presented above were on the background of tech-company founders—those who made the transition into entrepreneurship. Most don’t. And, as you can note from Bill Gates’ speech, there is a bias against liberal arts and humanities.
So students of the humanities need to be prepared for a difficult slog. They will need to work harder than engineers do to find their way into the realm of entrepreneurship. And they will have to use their advantage of creativity to force their way into key roles. Then they can do that magic that Steve Jobs did with his elegant inventions.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Parents don't read to their children as much, K-12 humanities teachers are not as well-trained as STEM ones, federal funding for international education is down 41% over four years, and many college students graduate without being able to write clearly.
Although humanities degrees are not in total freefall, the bigger problem centers on the decline in pre-college humanities education and in the liberal arts curriculum in college.
Humanities get a tiny fraction of the federal funding that STEM programs do. Many schools, public ones in particular, are already under huge financial pressure, so they're going to focus more of their energies on the things that they can get others to pay for:
That means fewer offerings, less faculty, and a decline in the sort of introductory and mandatory classes that used to be standard in college.
The result is not only relatively fewer humanities majors but also a generation of students who get out of school and don't know how to write well or express themselves clearly.
The New York Times' Verlyn Klinkenborg, who has spent time teaching writing to both undergrads and graduate students at places like Harvard, Yale, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence, and Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, reports that kids are shockingly ill-prepared:
Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t.
They can assemble strings of jargon and generate clots of ventriloquistic syntax. They can meta-metastasize any thematic or ideological notion they happen upon. And they get good grades for doing just that. But as for writing clearly, simply, with attention and openness to their own thoughts and emotions and the world around them — no.
Those are undergraduate and even graduate students at some of the top colleges and universities in the country who have chosen to focus on writing to a certain extent. Things are presumably even worse elsewhere.
A 2010 study from Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa found that students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study."
De-emphasizing, de-funding, and demonizing the humanities means that students don't get trained well in the things that are the hardest to teach once at a job: thinking and writing clearly.
CEOs, including Jeff Bezos, Logitech's Bracken Darrell, Aetna's Mark Bertolini, and legendary Intel co-founder Andy Grove emphasize how essential clear writing and the liberal arts are. STEM alone isn't enough. Even Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke recently gave English majors a shout-out.
The point is that good writing isn't just a "utilitarian skill" as Klinkenborg puts it but something that takes a great deal of practice, thought, and engagement with history and what other people have written.
Let's hope that argument keeps the field alive.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-war-against-humanities-2013-6#ixzz2Xz86YaF2