Manufacturing boom: Trade school enrollment soars
Many U.S. trade schools, such as the Lanier Technical College outside Atlanta, are seeing a jump in enrollment in manufacturing-related programs as need for skilled factory workers explodes.
August 1st, 2012
06:43 AM ET

Manufacturing boom: Trade school enrollment soars

By Parija Kavilanz, CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Trade schools nationwide are bursting at the seams as demand for skilled factory workers pushes enrollment to record highs.

American manufacturers in certain sectors are enjoying a rebirth fueled by the return of overseas production back to the United States. As factories crank up, they have an urgent need for high-skilled workers such as machinists and tool-and-die makers knowledgeable in computers.

Trade school officials say manufacturing programs are experiencing an influx of students - young people starting out, mid-career workers who are retraining after a layoff, and incumbent factory workers.

Workers are drawn not only by the opportunity but also the pay: Starting salaries of $50,000 to $60,000 are not out of range for high-skilled talent.

But the surge in enrollment is posing unique challenges for schools, many of which are running at or beyond full capacity for the first time in decades.

School administrators are clamoring to hire more instructors and secure funding to buy additional equipment and add classes.

These infrastructure limitations, and the fact that it can take a year or more to train high-skilled factory workers, mean that the current labor shortage could persist for several years.

Unlike 20 years ago, manufacturing today requires workers who are computer literate and skilled in computer-aided design and engineering, said Sandra Krebsbach, executive director of the American Technical Education Association.

Read the full story from CNNMoney
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Where's the cash for college?
July 18th, 2012
06:40 AM ET

Where's the cash for college?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) – The U.S. economy is tightening its grip on Americans’ options when it comes to paying for college.

And while parents proportionally contribute the most money toward an undergraduate’s degree, the amount they’re contributing has dropped dramatically in recent years.

The information was revealed in Sallie Mae’s National Study of College Students and Parents, which was conducted by Ipsos and found that Americans are relying on a variety of sources for college funding.

For the 2011 – 2012 academic year, the study found that parent and student income and savings combined to make up 40 percent of the total cost of college.

Borrowing by students and parents made up 27 percent. Contributions from relatives and friends added up to 4 percent.

But grants and scholarships made up the single biggest piece of the pie at 29 percent. And what may raise some concern among the nation’s college hopeful is a recent drop in the proportion of families that got scholarship money.

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3 tuition bills, only $35,000 saved - how can this family pay for college?
Robert and Stefanie Fucci, 56 and 46, are planning to pay for their three daughters' college educations.
July 11th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

3 tuition bills, only $35,000 saved - how can this family pay for college?

By Donna Rosato, @Money

(MONEY Magazine) - Raising three daughters born within a five-year span, the Fuccis knew they'd face steep tuition bills one day. But saving was tough.

The family lives in high-cost Westchester County, where their property taxes have tripled over the past decade.

For many years Stefanie worked part-time as a personal trainer. Now Kimberlee, 17, plans to go to James Madison University in Virginia this fall, where costs top $30,000 a year; high school sophomore Celine, 16, has pinned her hopes on going out of state too.

The Fuccis have already co-signed $14,000 worth of private loans to pay for 21-year-old Brittany to attend New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (she also has $14,000 in federal Stafford loans). Still, they are determined to let their kids go to their dream schools.

"Out of state goes against our plans, but it's the right fit for Kimberlee," says Stefanie.

How can this family afford to pay for college?

Read the full story from

Is Sebastian Thrun's Udacity the future of higher education?
Udacity was the brainchild of Sebastian Thrun.
July 5th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

Is Sebastian Thrun's Udacity the future of higher education?

By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) - Educators and policymakers have long dreamed of providing universal, low cost, first-class higher education. Their wish may come true soon thanks to an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.

The mecca of the technology universe is in the process of revolutionizing higher education in a way that educators, colleges and universities cannot, or will not.

One of the men responsible for what may be an Athens-like renaissance is Sebastian Thrun, Google's vice president and pioneer in artificial intelligence and robotics. Known in science circles for his engineering feats - like Stanley, the self-driving car - Thrun is using his technological prowess to make quality higher education available to the world. I recently interviewed him on my radio show, "Morning In America."

Last year, while teaching a graduate level artificial intelligence class at Stanford University, Thrun lamented that his course could only reach 200 students in the suburbs of Palo Alto. So, he decided to offer his own free online class, with the same homework, quizzes and tests that he gives to Stanford students.

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How graduating on time pays off
June 28th, 2012
06:12 AM ET

How graduating on time pays off

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN)  If you’re planning on getting a four-year degree at college, a newly released study suggests you shouldn’t take five or six years to get it.

An additional year or two could cost you in more ways than the extra tuition.

The University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that people who earned bachelor’s degrees within four years saw, on average, higher wages than those who earned similar degrees within six years.

The difference between the wages of four-year and six-year graduates:  about $6,000.

But it still pays to get an undergraduate degree, even if it takes six years to do it.  Those who earned a bachelor’s within six years made about $6,000 more than students who attended college but didn't earn a degree at all.

The study considered several reasons for the differences in salaries, including the head start that four-year graduates had in the workforce.  The authors also noted that some employers may see a difference in aptitude between those who graduate on time and those who don’t.

According to U.S. News and World Report, most American college students – around 60 percent – don’t graduate on time.  And an extra year of tuition alone sets them back more than $8,000 at the average public university, while private school (take a deep breath) costs an average of $42,000 per year.

While it's true that many Americans place a priority on getting a college degree, millions of future workers may not need it.  A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimates that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College • Graduation
June 7th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

From scrubbing floors to Ivy League: Homeless student to go to dream college

by Vivian Kuo, CNN

Lawndale, North Carolina (CNN) - It's before sunrise, and the janitor at Burns High School has already been down the length of a hallway, cleaning and sweeping classrooms before the day begins.

This particular janitor is painstakingly methodical, even as she administers a mental quiz on an upcoming test. Her name is Dawn Loggins, a straight-A senior at the very school she cleans.

On this day, she maneuvers a long-handled push broom between rows of desks. She stops to pick up a hardened, chewed piece of gum. "This annoys me, because there's a trash can right here," she says.

The worst, she says, is snuff cans in urinals. "It's just rude and pointless."

With her long, straight dark blonde hair and black-rimmed glasses, Dawn looks a bit like Avril Lavigne. But her life is a far cry from that of a privileged pop star.

She was homeless at the start of the school year, abandoned by her drug-abusing parents. The teachers and others in town pitched in - donating clothes and providing medical and dental care. She got the janitorial job through a school workforce assistance program.

She's grateful for the work. But it's where she's going next, beyond the walls of Burns, that excites her most. She applied to four state colleges and one dream university. She'll graduate soon before heading off, leaving her dust pan behind.

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June 5th, 2012
01:02 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Bennington Banner: Vermont drops waiver request for No Child
Vermont's Board of Education voted unanimously to stop pursuing a waiver from No Child Left Behind provisions. The U.S. Department of Education said that Vermont's proposed accountability system lacked detail and wouldn't ensure student success, while Vermont says it was trying to create a system that relied less on standardized testing and negative consequences against educators and schools.

Miami Herald: Students at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus received funds to help undocumented high school students go to college.
Students from a Miami college won $5,000 to start a social media and community project that will outline higher education options for immigrant students, including undocumented ones.

StLToday: Imagine schools mark graduations, closings
In what could be the largest charter school shutdown in the country, Missouri's Board of Education voted to close Imagine's six St. Louis schools. Many of the roughly 3,800 students, who finished the school year last week, don't know what school they will attend come August. Public colleges in Ohio asked to go totally smoke-frees
A member of the Ohio Board of Regents says that he will introduce a measure asking the state's public colleges to ban smoking tobacco on their campuses. State law already prohibits smoking in public buildings.  Currently students can smoke on college greens and other outdoor locations.

Sun Sentinel: Mandated Holocaust education depends on donors to survive
Florida was the first state to mandate Holocaust education in its public schools. A film crew documented the 1994 law's inception and current implementation and found that state budget cuts are forcing some districts to look to outside sources of funding to train teachers on the curriculum.

June 4th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

A dress made from homework

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) Combining her efforts from the school year with some serious, sartorial creativity, Kara Koskowich wove together a garment that truly made the grade.

The 17-year-old Canadian student graduated in a dress made from her homework.

There was literally no chance of her running into anybody else with the exact same dress.  Most graduates never want to look at homework again; Koskowich found a way to look good in it.

She cut, sewed, glued, and eventually tailored a graduation gown out of the assignments that helped her graduate.  It took about 75 pieces of paper.  She said the math work she did made for the best look.

And though she started the project in March, she cut it pretty close to deadline, finishing the dress the night before she graduated.  “I did most of it the last week because I’m that kind of person.  I procrastinate,” Koskowich said.

She wasn’t the only student to skip store-bought couture.  Her friend Dorothy Graham substituted plastic shopping bags for silk and fashioned her own dress.  According to Graham, “It was actually funny because everyone was wearing these elegant dresses, and we’re in dresses that cost nothing, and we were the most popular people there.”

It shows you don’t need a designer label (or any label at all, really) to win acclaim while accepting a diploma.  And if Koskowich never wears the dress again?  Well, it was only homework, after all.

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June 4th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

21-year-old graduates medical school

At age 2, he could read.

At 9, he enrolled at Loyola University Chicago.

This year, at 21, Sho Yano becomes the youngest student in University of Chicago’s history to graduate with the medical degree, CNN affiliate WLS reported.

"If the pressure had come from anyone else, like my parents, I wouldn't have been able to keep going," said Sho Yano, who will soon start a pediatric neurology residency. "You have to be driven by something you want to do."

Opinion: Why the Chinese are flocking to U.S. colleges
William Bennett says many Chinese want their children to attend U.S. universities, like Princeton.
June 1st, 2012
06:28 PM ET

Opinion: Why the Chinese are flocking to U.S. colleges

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - American higher education is in the cross hairs of a heated national debate over the value and cost of a college degree. Yet in China, our fiercest global economic competitor, the popularity of American colleges and universities might be at an all-time high.

I just returned from a trip to Beijing, where I spoke with Chinese parents about the value of American education, where we excel and where we fall short. Not surprising was the extent to which the Chinese value education, especially primary and secondary education, and yearn for their children to attend American universities, and if possible, stay in America.

When I engaged Chinese parents about their children, they would often say, "My son (or daughter) is going to Princeton (or fill in the elite American university)." I would respond, "Great! What year is your son or daughter right now?" And they would say, "Three years old."

This passion for education starting at such an early age is powerful. After meeting with Chinese teachers, parents and children, three differences were immediately clear.

First, their children are better educated than American children in the STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math. High standards and high expectations are the norm in China, not the exception, as is often the case in the United States.

Read William J. Bennett's full column

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