In the U.S., more than 4 out of 10 undergraduate college students are above the age of 25. When people talk about these adult students, you usually hear words like “job skills” and “quickest path to a degree.”
But for more than four decades, a special program in Washington state has sought to offer much more than that.
It’s called the Tacoma Program. Back in 1972, Maxine Mimms, a professor at The Evergreen State College, created a new kind of college at her kitchen table, designed to serve students who are starting over in life, and to give them access to deep, transformational learning.
Earning a bachelor’s degree used to be seen as the best way to guarantee getting a good job, but many students are now turning to certificates as an accessible, more-affordable route to professional opportunities.
Certificates are diplomas geared toward particular occupations. It takes less time to earn one than it does traditional post-secondary degrees — many certificates take several months to earn, compared to two years for an associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, obtaining a certificate can help people increase their earnings later in life. Its report, “Certificates in Oregon: A Model for Workers to Jump-Start or Reboot Careers,” analyzes the effects of an academic certificate on the lives of their recipients in Oregon. The report found that the benefits of a certificate vary for workers depending on career, age and gender, but completing a college certificate typically boosts workers’ overall earnings by almost $5,000, or 19 percent, compared to their previous wages.
Is a teacher with a master’s degree a better educator than one without?
The teachers’ contract dispute in the Saucon Valley School District is echoing a national dialogue about whether teachers should be paid more for earning master’s degrees.
After nearly two years of talks — and 18 months after the last contract expired — the district and teachers’ union still have no deal. The teachers have twice rejected a neutral fact-finder’s recommendations that the school boardaccepted.
The district believes graduate study is valuable but questions whether the current approach challenges teachers enough or enhances student learning.
“We’re asking the taxpayers to pick up the bill through tuition reimbursement,” said Ed Inghrim, chairman of the board’s negotiation committee. “It is costing us a lot of money. We’re looking at a way to have more value in the classroom.”