Tuesday, August 04, 2009

College Grad Can't Find Job, Wants $$$ Back

She went to college to boost her chances of finding a great job once she got out of school, but now that that hasn't happened, Trina Thompson wants her money back. Thompson, a graduate of Monroe College, is suing her school for the $70,000 she spent on tuition because she hasn't found solid employment since receiving her bachelor's degree in April, according to a published report.

The business-oriented school in the Bronx didn't do enough to help her find a job, Thompson alleges, so she wants a refund. The college says it does plenty for grads.

The 27-year-old information-technology student accuses the school's Office of Career Advancement for not living up to its end of the deal and offering her the leads and employment advice it promised, according to The New York Post. "They have not tried hard enough to help me," the beleaguered Bronx resident wrote in her lawsuit, filed July 24 in Bronx Supreme Court.

Thompson's mother is proud of her daughter for completing her college education, but acknowledges Trina is upset that all her high hopes haven't panned out. The mother and daughter live together, but Trina's mother, Carol, is a substitute teacher and the only one of the two who makes any money. They're barely scraping enough together to get by, reports the Post. On top of her unemployment woes, Trina now faces mounting debt from student loans.

"This is not the way we want to live our life," her mom told the paper. "This is not what we planned." Monroe defends its career-advice programs and is adamant that its staff assists young professionals in their careers. "The lawsuit is completely without merit," school spokesman Gary Axelbank told the Post. "The college prides itself on the excellent career-development support that we provide to each of our students, and this case does not deserve further consideration."

On the school's Web site, the career program boasts that it provides free services for graduates at any point in their lives.


An interesting reader comment suggests that the young lady may have been misled about the suitability of her education for the work available:

She probably has never made an Ethernet cable, been inside a noisy server room, built her own computer, and would tremble in ignorance if she had to go on-site and figure out an issue at a co-location facility. I get these people all the time submitting their resumes to me thinking that they're automatically qualified for a 90K per year job to start because of an IT degree. Sorry, I'll take a kid who figured out much of this stuff on his own and who has the nicks and cuts along with boxes full of parts and wires from hands-on work over today's average grads who can recite from memory the OSI model but have no idea what it means.

British universities accused of dumbing down after number of first class degrees doubles in a decade

Universities have been accused of falling standards after it emerged that the number of first-class degrees has almost doubled in a decade. A scathing report by MPs claimed university vice-chancellors are guilty of 'defensive complacency' over fears of grade inflation. It also voiced frustration that different institutions appear to use wildly varying standards to grade students. This suggests that top grades from some newer universities are not the same as those gained from top colleges, such as Oxford or Cambridge.

The powerful all-party Commons' select committee on innovation, universities, science and skills provides a damning indictment on standards in higher education. MPs have accused universities of not doing enough to safeguard degree quality, with vice chancellors guilty of 'defensive complacency' over the subject. Vice chancellors are already under fire after seeing their average pay rise by nine per cent to £193,970, which is virtually Gordon Brown's salary.

Meanwhile, figures in the report show that the proportion of graduates awarded a first has risen from 7.7 per cent in 1996/7 to 13.3 per cent in 2007/8. The proportion of upper second class degrees has also risen from 44.5 per cent in 1996/7 to 48.1 per cent in 2007/8.

MPs concluded that 'different standards may be being applied' at different universities. Committee chairman Phil Willis claimed that 'inconsistency in standards is rife and there is a reluctance to address this issue'. His committee 'found no appetite' in universities 'to explore key issues such as the reasons for proportional increases in first and upper second class honours degrees in the past 15 years'.

MPs said: 'It is unacceptable to the committee that vice chancellors could not give a straightforward answer to the simple question of whether first class honours degrees achieved at different universities indicate the same or different intellectual standards.' For example, there was no clear answer to MPs' attempts to discover whether an upper second history degree from Oxford University and former polytechnic Oxford Brookes University were equivalent.

The report argued that the current system for ensuring quality is 'out of date' and needs to be replaced. It described as 'absurd and disreputable' the claim that the growing demand for courses, including from overseas students, is proof that university standards are being maintained.

The report also attacks the elite Russell Group of universities which had claimed there was no evidence of 'degree inflation' and pointed to a strong correlation between entry qualifications and degree results.

MPs said: 'In our view, it is not a sufficient defence of the comparability of standards to show that they match the improvement in A-level grades. 'On this logic, if A-level grades have inflated unjustifiably (and there are many who think they have) then so must higher education degree classes.'

Gillian Evans, a lecturer in medieval theology at Oxford University and an expert in university regulation, yesterday attributed the rise in first class degrees to competition for league table positions. She said: 'I am quite sure the reason proportions have gone up is exactly the same as the reasons A-levels have gone up: it's straightforward grade inflation, chasing a place in league tables.'

And Liberal Democrat universities spokesman Stephen Williams added: 'Universities often raise the issue of grade inflation in GCSEs and A-levels so they should not be afraid of examining degree classification to ensure that standards are high.'

But Wendy Piatt, of the Russell Group of leading universities, insisted that 'universities are not schools'. She said: 'An essential feature of a university is its academic freedom and autonomy with the responsibility to award degrees and standards.'

Lord Mandelson, Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, said: 'I don't recognise the committee's description of our higher education sector, which is in fact world class and second only to the USA as a top destination for overseas students.'

More than half of university students will be forced to rely on help from their parents when the new term begins, research suggests. In total, parents are contributing 61 per cent of their child's weekly term time income (around £69), up from 58 per cent (£64) last year, the sixth annual Student Living Index found. Almost four in ten students will be juggling their studies with part-time work in order to make ends meet.

Critics have previously claimed that universities are under pressure to award more first class degrees due to the growing number of overseas students who pay higher fees. UK students are also demanding a return for their money after the introduction of top-up fees.


Australia: Running writing consigned to blackboard of history

This is one innovation I agree with. Printing is more legible. Just to be awkward, I think I will start using cursive again, however. It would be a pity if it were lost. I might even see if I can find my old fountain pen

Running writing is being progressively phased out at Perth primary schools. The death knell has tolled for running writing, with a Perth Hills primary school making printing its hand writing of choice. Chidlow Primary School principal Darrell Kent told Radio 6PR's Harvey Deegan that printing was already the default option for most children when they took notes. "We're teaching a form of printing rather than necessarily cursive hand writing," Mr Kent said. "When adults sit down and write or fill in forms it's always in printing rather than cursive hand writing."

A report penned by Chidlow Primary School reasoned that the "vast majority" of WA students from Year 6 to Year 12 print when presenting their work, taking notes and focusing on writing neatness. The report said that running writing, otherwise known as Victorian Modern Cursive, was used by most students only at school. Printing also matched the format of computer keyboards, the report noted. "The focus is on the educational side of the kids," Mr Kent said. "This is a way that encourages people in spelling and other things as well."

Department of Education spokesman Andrew Thompson said his agency no longer required running writing to be taught in West Australian schools. Mr Thompson said Chidlow Primary's decision to make printing the handwriting of choice was made in consultation with parents and teachers.


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