Is dual enrollment “watered down”? Maybe…not.

It turns out that most of the time that students taking college classes in high school come in to regular college and fail, it’s because they were allowed to take classes they didn’t meet grade or score requirements for.  Letting a D student take classes that are supposed to be restricted to B students and up doesn’t answer the question of whether the class itself is “watered down” at all.  It merely shows that a lot of people are willing to commit fraud either for cash reasons (more enrollments and thus more funding) or ideological reasons, thinking they’re “reducing inequality” by ignoring the logical rules.

Additionally, dual enrollment has matured enough that it’s much more typical for states to just teach the exact same course on both high school and college campuses, or online.  The evidence is poor that dual enrollment courses are particularly watered down compared to any other college coursework.  The evidence is far stronger that dual enrollment is used fraudulently to push low-performing students into college coursework they can’t complete in order to boost statistics about different groups having college prep or early college exposure.

Nearly 1/3 of US high school students do dual enrollment.

The title says it all.  The most current estimates hover around 30% nationwide.  Dual enrollment refers to any instance of high school students taking coursework that is college-credit equivalent.  This is usually AP classes or arrangements with local colleges to offer college coursework to high school students (either at the local high schools or via online access or via special access to local colleges).

The average amount of credit completed varies by state from a semester to around a year of college.  This means, of course, that a substantial fraction of high schoolers are normalizing taking up to a year’s worth of college classes while being under age 18.  Kind of puts a lot of claims about what a college degree measures into different perspective.  In some parts of the country, most students are taking a year of college coursework in high school.

The steady rise in dual enrollment is related to my previous post about the increase in youthful PhDs.  There is a growing pool of students who are responding to credential pressure by simply starting much earlier in the process.  The interesting question is how far we are from the tipping point of something like  1/5 or even 1/3 of college students getting BAs before 20.  It’s hard to say.

By 2025 a majority of all doctorates are projected to go to people under 30.

This is part of a larger ongoing battle between the desire of some college educated types to extend education further and further into the 20s and 30s and the desire of different college educated people to speedrun the system in order to enter the workforce and start making enough to have a family relatively quickly.  It’s more of a culture clash than a clash of the sexes (though there are some sex-linked aspects).

But it’s also in a strange way a return to pre-1970s standards, where time to PhD completion was a few years rather than a decade.  That increase in time happened during the 90s and has been sliding downwards back towards those older historical norms of around half a decade, driven mostly by the increase in STEM PhDs, which were frequently majority under-30 even back during the 90s and early 2000s.

In any case we’ve gone from perhaps 1 in 200 PhDs being awarded  to someone under 25 to about 1 in 100 (source: NSF) in the course of the last decade (closer to 1 in 50 with STEM).  And the shift is away from PhDs being awarded in the middle 30s and also away from midcareer late 40s PhDs (dominated by education majors).  And yes, without education majors getting those midcareer PhDs we would very likely already be seeing a bigger percentage of PhDs awarded to the youth because STEM PhDs are getting younger more swiftly than the other PhD categories and are taking up a hefty share of the total.

And among under 25s being awarded a PhD, everyone is pretty much the same.  There’s no conventional race gap among the different large-enough for reporting racial groups getting PhDs under age 25.

Anyhow, the long and short is that PhDs are taking less and less time to get, it’s not clear if we’ll keep seeing increases in the overall number (there’s been a lot of flattening out) and there’s definitely another subculture forming of extremely young but highly credentialed types, similar to what we got during the 1990s and 1970s.  History sometimes skips like a scratched CD.

The low-investment/high-return myth of education

While it’s extremely easy to immediately trip over examples all over the right, there is not a shortage of this myth being propagated by people who have kids and also lefty tendencies.  It’s the myth that if you just live in an 80%+ white, already-high scoring suburb or exurb, then you don’t have to do anything and you will immediately be provided with a pleasant environment for your kids to attend school in from K-12. The high levels of volunteering and the extensive fundraising habits of such districts are airily dismissed as women being too control-freakish when they “really don’t need to bother, it’s not a ‘diverse’ district!”  I have heard this from both self-proclaimed liberals/progressives and righties alike.

But fundamentally, there is no plug and play school world anymore because there’s no culture of acceptable educational “losses”– that is, a belief that it’s ok for some people’s kids to not finish high school or college because they can earn money instead of a more uncertain payoff from additional education.

However, that’s not what people who are getting ready to have kids continue to hear.  They hear that this world totally exists given the double elements of 1970 level white numbers (because certain immigrant groups “don’t relax much and are really SO SERIOUS about academics, gotta let the kids play man”) and 2019 level extremely high test scores.  When they find that it’s not true and their kids are under a very high level of academic pressure and parents are under similar pressure as well to “contribute”, by then they’ve already had a kid or two or three or even four and they just settle in to having “school stuff” be a second job for one of the parents (usually mom).

 

From college to modular education.

The evidence is pretty clear that the college-for-all model has missed enough intelligent, capable people that we keep taking stabs at modular educational models, oriented around sitting for exams and completing x number to demonstrate competency.  This has the benefit of matching up more with actual white-collar, highly paid work these days, which is frequently project-bound but open-ended as to how you complete it and it also has the benefit of not costing average or below intelligence people buckets of money if they can’t hack it, which will be at least as frequent as it is now.  But there’d be tiers they could hack and still get decent pay.

It’s also an approach that works well with unionizing/guild-izing at even very high pay levels.

It wasn’t that bad a model for IT, although rampant fraud combined with unrestricted immigration broke it, but then rampant fraud combined with unrestricted immigration is a major part of why college is no longer much of a filter for what college-educated parents believe it to be a filter for.  That model is returning in IT with the bootcamp approach, where depending on the subfield, anywhere from 1/100 to 1/20 workers is coming out of 6-18 month bootcamp straight into employment full-time, usually at wages above 50k/yr.  And that is a large percentage given how little time the model itself has had to form up.  But companies are already arranging their hiring around pulling in some bootcamp people and having a special process for that.  In contrast it took decades to see the same for the “diversity and inclusion” industry, which is more reliant on racking up degrees for that pipeline.

We now live in a world where an 18 or 19yo can already have a bachelor’s degree if they are really set on doing so without having to leave home and sometimes without even spending money.

We have something like 75,000 18 and 19yos a year graduating with BAs, MAs or PhDs/JDs (mostly BAs).  We have 125k or so with AAs.

The AA by 19 pool is 60% male, the BA+ by 19 pool is probably (estimates are pretty spiky) 80% male.   The AA numbers are almost 10% of the total (~1.5-1.7million) for age 20-24 AAs and the BA+ numbers are around 2-3% of the total (around 3.4 million) for 20-24 BA+.  And even among 20-24yos, we are up to roughly a quarter million with an MA or higher.

Given how rapidly the early college thing is increasing, it may be that we start seeing 300, 400, 500k such people annually over the next decade. This would be in line with the trend that began, as far as NCES recording of it, in the early 1990s, when about 1 in 5 people over age 25 had  BAs or  higher (all races) and the younger set finishing college young was a few thousand which over 20 years increased by an order of magnitude.

College completion has flattened in recent years (what marginal increases are happening, interestingly, are putting male completion of BAs ahead of female completion in the latest data after years of the opposite) and at this point the mix of *how* it’s completed is changing, so we’re no longer getting more and more people across the line, but instead having more and more “weird” ways of finishing increase.

Catholic school enrollment today is about the same as 100 years ago.

That’s kind of funny given how many fewer people were in the United States back then.  What’s also kind of funny is that compared to a century ago, Catholic schools now need more than 2x the elementary teachers and more than 6x the secondary school teachers for very nearly the same number of children.  And this with roughly 20% fewer schools compared to 100 years ago.

From NCES tables on private school enrollment.

 

Paleo Poke

Poke is currently popular in urban areas these days.  No idea why.

Anyway since most of the household doesn’t do great with rice, I cobbled together a variation on the poke theme that doesn’t involve ordering it from a poke hut.

Take 1-2lbs (depending on your seasoning preference) of thawed ahi steaks and cube them.  Mix with 1 tsp salt (I used Himalayan pink because we get it in bulk for mysterious reasons), 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 cup sesame oil. Serve over any amount of steamed vegetables.

It’s not “real” poke, but it tastes close enough and it works when you don’t want to stand over a hot stove skillet cooking anything because you baked a mountain of cookies for three elementary classes.