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Major interest in Majors, Graduation rates by state

by Tod Massa 8. May 2015 20:42

Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce has released its new report on college majors and wages. It is more detailed, but picks up from where The College Payoff left off in 2011. 

The Economic Value of College Majors uses Census Data to analyze wages for 137 college majors to detail the most popular college majors, the majors that are most likely to lead to an advanced degree, and the economic benefit of earning an advanced degree by undergraduate major.

The importance of a major is powerful. So much that Bachelor’s degree holders in some majors can earn more than those with a graduate degree. We found that the highest-paid majors were among the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and the lowest earning majors were with early childhood education and human services and community organization. The full report includes a more detailed analysis of the popularity of majors and educational and labor market outcomes by major.

The authors don't allow the ease of overlooking individual differences to happen. They rightfully, and clearly, acknowledge, that "your major is not your destiny" in that graduates in what are typically lower-paying majosr can earn more than graduates in the higher-paying majors. The data are solid and the research is sound. It is available at the state level, so it is well worth your review. The report is also consistent with SCHEV's data and reporting.

Last week I attended a meeting about a second round of the WICHE-led project that built a data exchange between Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii. Since representatives of some of our neighboring states were there, it got me to wondering about the graduation rates of students from other states that come to Virginia. We had already published these rates generally for out-of-state students. What about students from Maryland, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia? Not only did I think the answers would be interesting, they would also demonstrate the value of states working together to answer such questions for the common good.


Retention and Completion Rates
Retained (i.e. enrolled at original institution or transferred-out) and Completed Anywhere

Year

Cohort

# Cohort

Retained into Second Year

Completed Within 4yrs

Completed Within 5yrs

Completed Within 6yrs

2007-08

FTIC, In-State, Recent High School Graduate, Full-Time at Entry

22,208

93.1%

49.9%

71.4%

77.4%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from Maryland, Recent HS Graduates

1,283

85.7%

49.6%

68.4%

71.9%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from District of Columbia, Recent HS Graduates

128

84.4%

25.8%

52.3%

54.7%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from North Carolina, Recent HS Graduates

316

79.7%

45.9%

66.1%

69.0%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from New Jersey, Recent HS Graduates

840

89.9%

56.7%

74.9%

78.0%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from New York, Recent HS Graduates

613

81.9%

52.2%

64.6%

65.7%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, from Pennsylvania, Recent HS Graduates

821

86.4%

55.7%

73.1%

75.5%

2007-08

FTIC, Full-Time at Entry, Out-of-State (Excluding DC, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA), Recent HS Graduates

2,496

85.6%

55.1%

69.6%

72.6%

 

My colleague from Maryland made the point that this rate of 72% for six years was better than their in-state rate and thus supported the argument that their best students left Maryland for college. I politely agreed and made no comment that the difference might be explained by institutional quality. In any event, I think that states making the effort to share data even at this level has real value. Certainly, Virginia is a part of the SREB Data Exchange and has been for years, but the exchange does not delve into questions about how students from one state perform in another. Some of this can be done and observed through data from the National Student Clearinghouse, but the state data systems are richer and capable of much greater differentiation.

These subcohorts are now available in a number of our reports under the Retention and Graduation Rates tile.

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