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College Isn’t Just Getting More Expensive, it’s Getting Really Expensive.

This post serves as an update to these two previous  posts on the higher education bubble, and the increasing cost of education.    Here’s a chart I found a few mornings ago that you should analyze closely if you’re  following these topics.

Specifically, take a look at the red line on this recently released graph from DoubleLine Funds:

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index)


Everyone seems to dwell on the cost of oil, what about the rising cost of college?  Why isn’t this a bigger issue?  Education costs are outpacing the inflation of the cost of a new car by over a multiple of 10!

This trend simply isn’t sustainable and it’s a clear indication that the value of a college degree is going to “crash” at some point in the future.

The 10 Hottest College Majors in China

China’s long-trending enrollment boom has been lowering the value of a college degree and making the work market there more competitive.  This is why their selection in college majors is now more aligned toward finding gainful employment.

My friends at onlinecollege.net asked me to share this article on the topic with you:

In China, a college education is a really big deal. Recent years have seen a major enrollment boom, with university student populations swelling by as much as 30%. But at the same time, there are high levels of unemployment among recent graduates in many industries. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third of China’s 5.6 million 2008 graduates were unemployed during their first year after school. The culprit? Oversaturated college majors. Many students in China flock to the same ultra-competitive fields of study, hoping to find a lucrative job, but instead find a very difficult employment market. In others, however, there’s still plenty of room for growth, allowing for lots of new graduates to find great jobs. Read on as we explore 10 of the hottest areas of study for Chinese students, and discuss which ones are winners for great job opportunities in the country.


The 10 Hottest College Majors in China

1. Information technology

China has become a powerhouse of IT, even surpassing the U.S. with research and development personnel. In fact, just in 2009, China graduated half a million students with IT and other related degrees. In that same year, Chinese researchers also surpassed the U.S. with more published papers in IT. IT is a big deal in China, so it’s not hard to understand why so many students flock to the major. Of course, this does mean that there’s a lot of competition for IT jobs in the country. Still, there is no shortage of positions for well-qualified IT grads in China, and although some shy away from this densely populated study, many others still consider to be a valuable career.

2. Electrical engineering:

China has been long recognized as the world’s superpower in electronics manufacturing, creating half of the world’s TVs and mobile phones, and most of the world’s personal computers and monitors. Overall, 33% of China’s graduates are engineers of some sort, many of them in the field of electrical engineering. With an ever-growing electricity sector and continually booming electrical manufacturing industry, this major is a really hot ticket for students in China. There’s still plenty of room for growth as well, as relative to population size, the number of research and development personnel in engineering is still low compared to major developed nations like the U.S. and Japan.

3. English:

Many students in China major in languages, particularly in English. For many students, it’s a smart move, allowing them to participate in global business with America and other English-speaking countries. But similar to English majors in the U.S., job prospects are limited for students with English degrees. Still, for some students, studying English in China is just a stepping-stone to higher education in the United States. In recent years, the number of Chinese undergrads in the U.S. has tripled to make them the largest group of foreign students in U.S. colleges. In fact, many American colleges push to recruit in China, pulling students out of fierce competition in Chinese universities, while bolstering the university’s international appeal.

4. Law:

Many Chinese students aspire to be lawyers, envisioning a lucrative legal career in their futures. This is an incredibly popular major, but it can be difficult to actually develop a career in this field. Some of the top universities in China have more than 6,000 law students each. But getting through overcrowded law schools isn’t the biggest challenge. Many Chinese students find that bar exams are extremely difficult; in fact, there are very low passing rates each year. And among those who do pass the test, there is intense competition, as the graduates of this very popular major go on to compete for the best attorney jobs.

5. Mechanical engineering:

Like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering is another hot education and employment field in China. Unlike many of the other popular college majors in China, mechanical engineering has some of the best job opportunities in the country. Geological engineers enjoy a 100% employment rate, while marine engineering and petroleum engineering follow closely at 98.6% and 97.2%, respectively. Even oil and gas storage and transportation enjoys a very high rate of employment at 95.7%, so it’s not hard to understand why students in China flock to mechanical engineering and related majors.

6. Architecture:

Architecture is a big deal in China, and it’s one of the most popular areas of study for Chinese students. In fact, China is a hub of architectural education, attracting even many international students in search of a great architecture degree. China is an exciting architectural place, so it’s obvious why so many students choose to study this subject. And China’s explosive growth ensures that architecture students have plenty of opportunities for employment. In fact, China is so rich with architecture work that architects and designers from the U.S., Europe, and South America are flocking to the country for opportunities. This does make the field all the more competitive, but well-qualified graduates of Chinese architecture programs will be poised to compete with the best of them.

7. Accounting and finance:

In addition to architecture, China is a major financial hub, making accounting and finance a popular major. Accounting in particular is a very popular major, but the field is famous for fierce competition and low employment, combining excessive accounting professionals with difficult CPA exams. However, financial engineers fare much better, with one of the most employable majors in China, enjoying an employment rate of 98.6%. With a degree in financial engineering, students are able to take on major financial challenges, including international careers in finance that benefit from analytical finance skills.

8. Journalism:

Journalism is an area of study that attracts lots of students, but unfortunately, that means it’s not really a great choice for Chinese students. So many students graduate with journalism degrees that the market is absolutely flooded. At the same time, the Chinese media industry is downsizing. It’s even hard for many Chinese journalism majors to find an internship.

9. Medicine:

Historically, medicine has been a dependable and lucrative source of employment worldwide, so many Chinese families encourage their children to pursue jobs in the field, especially as doctors. For students of medical imaging, this is a smart move, with an employment rate of 96.3%. But for physicians, the market is so flooded with candidates that it can be difficult, if not impossible, for them to find jobs. Thanks to an overly large supply of medical graduates, there are not enough hospital openings to go around, and the unemployment rate for clinical medicine physicians is 23.1%.

10. Business management:

Plenty of students in China major in business management, making it one of the most popular fields of study in the country. But at the same time, there’s not a lot of demand for business graduates. Chinese firms, and especially manufacturers, tend to be “top-light,” meaning they have lots of workers, but not lots of managers. Typically, Chinese companies have very little need to do their own marketing and product development, as so much of China’s business is export contracts in which they produce pre-specified products. This makes it difficult for Chinese business management majors to find a job in a competitive market.

Reasons to Move Back Home After College

My friends at “College@Home” asked that I share an info-graphic highlighting some interesting trends in the higher education system. I think this speaks for itself:


SkillShare.com | A Vision to Change the Face of Education


Over a month ago, I wrote a post titled ” Working Smart | 6 Places For Students  to Learn Better ” and at the top of my list of these up-and-coming education innovators was SkillShare.com.  Now they’re in the news again for offering new and innovative ‘Hybrid Classes’. Before we get into what Hybrid Classes are, here’s some background on SkillShare.com:

Basically, SkillShare’s platform is designed so people are able to learn anything, anywhere.   Whatever you want to learn, you should one day be able to find a class on at SkillShare.com. SkillShare.com is lead by their fearless leader, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, serving as CEO & Co-Founder.  Previously, Michael led the product team at Hot Potato, which was acquired by Facebook.  He is also a Venture Advisor for Collaborative Fund, 2012 TED Fellow, and listed as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 by Fast Company.

In a recent Forbes article about this New York based startup, SkillShare formally annonced their ‘Hybrid’ learning classes:

“‘Hybrid’ courses – month-long programs where students learn by collaborating on a guided project rather than by absorbing material from a lecturer.”  …

15 new lessons were published that qualify for the ‘Hybrid’ learning program.

How SkillShare’s Hybrid Classes Work: 

  1. Real-world projects. Students learn through a hands-on project by doing, making and collaborating.
  2. Less lecturing. Teacher acts as a facilitator by designing a project, curating resources, and providing feedback to students.
  3. Online Discussions. Students can ask questions, share links, and get feedback from other students around the world.
  4. In-Person Workshops. To foster a collaborative learning experience, students will meet in-person to collaborate and work on projects together in their cities.

With SkillShare’s student base currently exceeding that of the California College System, it’s clear that their popularity will continue to grow.  The face of education is changing and SkillShare.com is one of the catalysts, but they’re not the only player in the game.  It will be exciting to see who becomes the dominate player in the self-education/self-college arena.




Where Does Your Child Learn About Money?

Some parents, usually wealthy parents, send their kids to money camp.  That’s right, money camp.

What 8th grader doesn’t like money? … And camping is ultra-marvelous.  What could be better than sending your kids to a money camp?

Money camps are one of the things that wealthy people do differently.  I’m all for it, and why not?   Ask yourself, “When do I want junior to start really learning about cash, when he’s 40, or when he’s 4?”

Now is a good time to start the conversation of money with your children if you haven’t already.  The earlier anyone starts learning a subject, the better they’re likely to be at it.  One of the most neglected subjects of importance in our public education system is finance.  It’s almost by design that schools don’t share the important financial concepts young adults will need to get ahead of the pack.

Money camps fill the void.  One of the most popular money camps out there is the “Camp Millionaire“, hosted by Creative Wealth Int’l.  Their financial wisdom program offers financial literacy curriculum and events for both kids and teens.  Creative Wealth believes that they must bring money and kids together while they are young so they can have enough time and practice to develop a healthy relationship to it and wise financial skills with it.

Lessons include, “Money Games”, classes, and lifestyle learning programs that feature principles like…

1) Financial Freedom is your choice

2) Financial Freedom is your responsibility

3) You are the CEO of your own life

4) Financial Freedom comes from investing in assets that creative passive income

These are fantastic lessons for anyone, and the value is evident.  Similar camps are springing up locally or regionally as parents become aware of the financial education deficit.  The Money Academy, for example, offers 7 camp locations near Austin, TX.  They have a similar format to the others and serve grades 2- 8.  These camps aren’t all hocus-pocus, they feature expert advisory members, money management fundamentals, and solid business lessons.

These camps help provide money lessons that the k-12 system is currently missing.  With a growing number of them developing, prices on this extra education should become more competitive and the services should become more valuable.

Money camps are great, but they’re only one tool available to parents who want to teach their kids about money.  You don’t have to spring the $1,000+ price tag of these camps to teach your kids about money. Loring Ward Financial, a San Jose, Calif-based RIA, recently published “The Parent’s Guide to Kids & Money” (visit for a free pdf/ebook)  Read this, or one of the many other books on the topic.  The more you teach yourself, the better prepared you are to help your children learn.

Share your own money experiences with your kids.  Have them help with the household bill paying, shopping, saving, or even figuring out the tip the next time you eat out.  It’s less about how your child learns about money, and more about when.





Will Your College Go Broke Before You Graduate?

You’re graduating high school this year, next comes the predictable rite of passage of frantically sending out college applications. You’re just hoping to get accepted into your favorite school. You’re focused because you know that a college degree will lead to a good job.
With your mental focus set on enrolling in school, it’s rare that you’d even consider an institution’s financial viability.

Colleges are one of the cornerstones of our economy and we’ve always held them in our minds to be noble, reliable, and stable places of business. Do the words “to big to fail” come to mind?
After all, with the skyrocketing cost of tuition, our nation’s universities should be a pillar of financial strength, shouldn’t they?
Sorry, this might not be the case. A recent report, released by Bain & Company, analyzed 1,692 colleges and universities unveiled some alarming data.
The Bain & Company report found that almost 30% of higher education establishments are simply spending more than they can afford. That means that almost one third of universities are losing money at a break-neck pace. Another 28% of colleges are in the red zone and at risk of also becoming unsustainable. If you’d like to check to see if an institution you’re considering or already attending is on this list, Bain & Company put together a handy tool you can use at: http://www.thesustainableuniversity.com/ (The chart will let you search by specific universities, or by “school type”).

The translation: Institutions have more liabilities, higher debt service and increasing expenses without the revenue or the cash reserves to back them up.

I reviewed the projected tuition levels based on historical trends and the increase of student debt load. The numbers are clearly on course with past economic bubbles. Similar to the housing bubble of the mid-2000’s this education bubble is fueled by two things:
1. The perceived value of obtaining a college degree is on an upward trajectory. Perhaps you’ve heard that college graduates earn a higher lifetime income. I equate this to “home prices always go up” in housing bubble parlance.
2. Financing a college degree has been easy and inexpensive for decades, allowing the bubble to fill at for many years. I relate the growth in student lending to easy money for home finance: ARM’s, liar loans, no-doc loans, and NINJA (no income, no job, no assets) mortgages.

Sound familiar? Remember when companies like Countrywide, Washington Mutual, and many other banks were lending money hand over fist to homebuyers and home prices shot up artificially high? What happened next? The bubble burst and the 2008 financial crisis began.

With the Bain report showing nearly two thirds of colleges in financial trouble, it is possible that the tuition bubble could pop as well. Imagine how many children could attend college if it wasn’t for grants, student aid, and student loans? Imagine if you had to pay cash for tuition. I am willing to bet that enrollment would be whole lot less than the number of students enrolled in the 2013 school year. A recent article in “The Guardian” shows how schools in England (England has also seen similar increases in tuition and fees that we have here in the US) are already showing a decreased number of applicants. The parallel between England’s poor economy and their education trends can be easily seen.
College tuition is seems to keep rising and for decades we’ve kept these schools floating on a pile of newly borrowed money year after year. The majority of American families are experiencing decreasing or stagnant incomes, reduced home equity, smaller savings accounts, and an increasing anxiety about job security. With the financial pressure of our current recession, it’s difficult for this author to see how we as a nation will be able to afford ever-higher tuition, especially if student loans and other forms of financial aid are reduced in the future.

New Book Helps College Students Avoid Majoring in Debt


Short post, it’s about the book Anthony Meister and I just published.  “Here’s the Book” on Amazon.  I’m working hard to promote this, as a result,  it will be available as a FREE Kindle download on Aug 26, 2012 on Amazon.

Here’s a copy of the official press release:

Black River Falls, WI– (WiredPRNews.com) Open Mind Enterprises is celebrating the recent release of “The College Unicorn: Exposing The Myth of College and Career Planning,” a book that guides parents of pre-college teens to better returns on their education investment. It’s a timely companion for navigating through today’s college and career planning challenges. To further promote the book, the authors are giving away free Kindle downloads of The College Unicorn on Aug 26, 2012 via Amazon.com

The book debunks the myth of a degree automatically equaling career success and gives readers a proven path to landing in the top 10% of post college earners. With the economy on the rocks and jobs scarcer than ever, one U.S author and education activist is determined to help the nation get better returns on their education investment.

“In an economic climate where seniors are getting their social security benefits garnished for student loans and overall student debt is over a trillion dollars, we felt compelled to provide a potential solution”, explains author William Roberts. Continuing, “Career planning now takes time, focus and requires a huge amount of information on current trends. If people are not aware of the importance of this planning, they’ll never succeed.”

Since its release, the book has garnered rave reviews. “It’s a quick read, packed full of useful advice for anyone considering going to college. The “Optimal Career” system is what makes it a must read for any parent (or grandparent) with a pre-college teen,” says Kevin Miles, who reviewed the book on Amazon.com.
As a digital accompaniment to the book, Roberts has also developed an intuitive online ‘Lifestyle Calculator’. The tool allows students to see if their planned career course will match up with their personal needs, by determining how much money they’ll need to support their lifestyle.

The College Unicorn: Exposing The Myth of College and Career Planning, published by Open Mind Enterprises, LLC., is available now from Amazon.com.
For more information, please visit the Author’s official website. His progress can also be followed on Twitter.

About the Authors:


William Roberts is a writer, career expert, and education activist. He regularly publishes articles on personal branding, marketing, sales, college, and career advice. William also manages Open Mind Enterprises LLC, an online marketing and publishing company as well as his own web hosting company, NoCoastHost.com

Anthony Meister is an engineer and was a regional manager at both small and Fortune 500 companies. In his off time he enjoys white-water kayaking, mountain biking, and trail running. Anthony holds a BS degree in civil engineering from Northern Arizona University.


13 Ways to Stay Jobless

I’m sure you’ve already heard a few of these advice bullets at some point in your career, but missing even one could keep you from being hired.

If you’re  in “I need a job” land, here are 13 common mistakes to avoid making:
1. Have a Bad Resume – Not that simply sending a good resume will get you a job, but a bad resume will put the odds in favor of your competition.  If your resume is not standing out, it’s not standing out.  If you’re sending out a poorly written resume, you’re wasting your time.

2. Have a Bad Cover Letter – A good cover letter is a bit underrated.  Many people go generic, basic, and safe.  A good cover letter is addressed personally, not generically.  The cover letter should talk about the value you present to that unique employer.  It should have the most interesting piece mentioned first and be sure that it and references your attached resume.

3. Don’t Know What You Want to Do – If you don’t know what you want to do, you’re more likely to do nothing.  If you don’t know what you want to do, then you can’t confidently communicate to employers that you want to work for them.  As soon as you know what you want to do, you have something to say.  Knowing what you can or want to do, is a better strategy to promote yourself as a valuable member of the team.

4. Ask About Vacation/Benefits Before Meeting in Person – Don’t pick apart the position before you’d been made an offer.  Assuming anything upfront can appear as entitlement.  This is a personality trait that most hiring managers find unattractive.   If you practice classy negotiation skills, lock down the job first, then the extras.

5. Be Negative – If you’re jobless, being negative about your position will only help keep you there.  Start being positive now, make it a choice every morning.  Make it a point to only communicate with prospective employers with a positive tone, it’s difficult to do, but it will make you appear more desirable.  Positive people have more physical energy and can even think better.  Force yourself to smile during phone interviews,  really mean it,  it cans still change the tone of your voice.

6. Play the Blame Game – If you want to be interpreted as a responsible person, you must take responsibly.  When talking with your future boss, or anyone for that matter, don’t blame  your failures on others.   The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear about is how dumb your last employer was for firing you.  If it’s to be said, let them say it.  Any blame, or negative talk will work against your from a hiring manager’s emotional perspective.

7. Say the word: “Honestly,” During an Interview –  Don’t tell the employer you’re being honest about anything, it makes you look false.  It’s an undesirable phrase, and it should be avoided at all costs.  If you represent yourself professionally, and keep your lie cues to a minimum,  it will be assumed that you’re honest.

8. Be Predicable – When interviewing numbers of people, it’s amazing how many people will respond to the same questions with the exact same answers.  Interviews start to tire you out with pure boredom.  Sometimes, just being different and refreshing will increase your changes of being hired.  Before you’re hired, you’ll need to be considered.  Before your considered, you’ll need to be remembered.  The more common you present yourself, the easier it will be to forget you.  Don’t be predicable, be remarkable.

9. Give Stiff or Limp Fish Hand Shakes – The handshake plays.  It’s not a power-play, it’s not a chance to induct them hypnotically, it’s a social gesture.  Make sure you’re ready to shake hands, and you’re not too tight or weak with your grip.  Smile, eye contact, and think something positive to put emphasis on this physical communication.  I personally like to think the words, “Done Deal”.

10. Know Nothing About the Job or Company You’re Applying For – Blindly sending out your resume (if it’s well written) can sometimes land you an interview.  It’s your responsibility to research the company you’ll have an interview with as much as possible, otherwise you’re wasting your time.  If you don’t know, it will show, you’ll be asking a bunch of questions that will make you look like an idiot to a prospective employer.  Not only will they not hire you, but they’ll be likely to hold contempt for your poor manners.

11. Don’t Attend Job Fairs – Job fairs are a place where companies who are hiring will be looking for prospective candidates.  If you want to meet people, of “network”, it’s in your best interest to addend these events.  Even if you don’t want to work for a particular company, meeting people who work in the hiring field can benefit you down the road.  Treat attending a job fair like an interview.

 12. Dress Like a Slob - First impressions are made within only a few seconds.  Even the most non-judgmental of people will make a determination about you based on how you look.  If you don’t think that appearances matter, then you probably don’t understand how your subconsciousness mind works either.  Over 70% of our communication with other people is non-verbal.  Look in the mirror before you leave, what is your presence saying?

 13. Don’t Follow Up- When you meet people at the job fair, out in public, or during an interview you need to follow up.  Face it, you’re easily forgotten, just another face applying for “the job”.  Reduce the odds that you will be neglected and looked over by being present.  Every time someone recognizes your name, it’s more likely they’ll recommend it.   Keep a record of everyone you talk to, and schedule follow up calls for down the road for the best contacts.  If you’re really savvy, use a free CRM tool like zoho.com, and then collect as many business cards as you can.  Leveraging the power of a CRM, you can continue to follow up with your contacts and not have to remember everything.