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Plenary Session: Do Students Invest Wisely in College?

This plenary session summarized the labor market returns to college. Panelists presented evidence on returns to bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as returns to the many sub-baccalaureate awards offered by colleges. Key differences in returns—for example, across awards, subjects, institutions, and student attributes—were highlighted. This evidence was examined in light of recent and expected changes in the structure of the labor market.

Participants

Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York, and CAPSEE

Anthony Carnevale, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post

James Jacobs, Macomb Community College

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Breakout 1A: Returns to Community College: More of the Big Picture

There are many ways in which labor market returns to college can vary. Using large-scale statewide administrative datasets and national surveys, this session reported on how returns vary across programs, enrollment patterns, and states.

Participants

Scott Carlson, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Jeffrey Fletcher, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Jessica Scheld, Lynchburg College

Mark Wiederspan, Arizona State University

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Breakout 1B: Returns to Short-Term Stays in College

The labor market returns to short-term stays in college—either to get a certificate or other sub-degree award, or simply to get credits—are typically weaker than the returns to degrees. This session looked at how robust the labor market returns are across the range of short-term stays in community colleges.

Participants

Allen Ruby, Institute of Education Sciences

Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York, and CAPSEE

Madeline Joy Trimble, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Peter Riley Bahr, University of Michigan and CAPSEE

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Breakout 1C: Returns to Technical and Vocational Programs

Labor market returns to vocational courses are typically higher than those for academic courses. This session looked at patterns in returns across different technical and occupational programs.

Participants

James Benson, Institute of Education Sciences

Michal Kurlaender, University of California, Davis, and CAPSEE

Michel Grosz, University of California, Davis

Adela Soliz, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University

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Keynote

Participant

Thomas Bailey, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

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Plenary Session: Does Society Invest Wisely in College?

This plenary session examined the labor market consequences of public funding for colleges. The panelists described the effects of financial aid systems on college completion and students’ subsequent earnings; they also considered how financial aid and state subsidies could be reformed to improve labor market outcomes for students.

Participants

Judith Scott-Clayton, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania

Sandy Baum, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute

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Breakout 2A: Financial Aid: More of the Big Picture

Financial aid is a multifaceted policy for improving educational and economic outcomes. This session provided an overview of key trends in financial aid policy.

Participants

Liz Willen, The Hechinger Report

Kevin Dougherty, Community College Research Center

Eric Bettinger, Stanford University and CAPSEE

Qiao Wen, Community College Research Center

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Breakout 2B: Pell Grants and College Outcomes

Pell grants are critical to helping many students complete their college education. This session considered how effective and efficient the Pell grant system is at maximizing educational and economic outcomes.

Participants

Kevin Carey, New America Foundation

Lesley Turner, University of Maryland

Rina Seung Eun Park, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Lauren Schudde, The University of Texas at Austin and CAPSEE

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Breakout 2C: Working While Enrolled in College

Many students combine work—often full-time work—with their college studies. This session examined what the optimal conditions are for combining employment and college enrollment.

Participants

Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

Judith Scott-Clayton, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Adela Soliz, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University

Veronica Minaya, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

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Plenary Session: Are Colleges Structured to Optimize Investments?

This plenary session examined whether colleges are organized so students can gain high returns to college. Panelists examined which college characteristics or practices are most strongly associated with labor market success, with a focus on the labor market returns to for-profit colleges. Panelists also considered what organizational changes might be made to colleges to enhance the economic value of attending college.

Participants

John Friedman, Brown University

David Deming, Harvard Graduate School of Education and CAPSEE

Harry Holzer, Georgetown University

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Breakout 3A: Helping Community College Students Invest in a Bachelor’s Degree

A high proportion of students lack the information or guidance to progress successfully through college. This session described how these obstacles impede college completion, leading students to underinvest in college-level skills.

Participants

Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Di Xu, University of California, Irvine, and CAPSEE

Davis Jenkins, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Shanna Smith Jaggars, The Ohio State University and CAPSEE

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Breakout 3B: Which College to Attend

Students can choose from a vast array of colleges and universities. This session reported on which institutional features are associated with superior economic outcomes.

Participants

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post

Stephanie Riegg Cellini, George Washington University

Rajashri Chakrabarti, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Arne Kalleberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and CAPSEE

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Breakout 3C: Barriers to Investing

Even for students who are academically prepared, there are still many barriers to making the most of college. This session looked at some of these barriers and what approaches students can use to get over these barriers.

Participants

David Wessel, Brookings Institution

Bridget Long, Harvard Graduate School of Education and CAPSEE

Vivian Liu, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

Nikki Edgecombe, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE, and Jasmine Sanders, Community College Research Center

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Plenary Session: Are Colleges Guiding Students to Choose Valuable Programs and Pathways?

This plenary session considered whether the choices students make in college are likely to ensure their future labor market success. Panelists presented evidence on whether students are choosing programs with strong earnings and employment outcomes and whether the particular college pathways they pursue—such as transferring to a four-year institution or combining work with study—are advantageous. Panelists also considered whether colleges are making the decisions that students must make about courses, programs, and pathways too complicated, and how these options might be simplified so that students can maximize their benefits from college.

Participants

William Law, St. Petersburg College

Tristan Denley, Tennessee Board of Regents

Michael Collins, Jobs for the Future

Davis Jenkins, Community College Research Center and CAPSEE

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Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, Teachers College, Columbia University

525 West 120th Street, Box 174, New York, NY 10027

TEL: 212.678.3091 | FAX: 212.678.3699

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment was established in the summer of 2011 through a grant (R305C110011) from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

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