Building Postsecondary Options Aligned with Student Interests

College_groupWe often hear how college is not necessarily aligned with the interests and passions of today’s students, with many degree programs developed decades—or even centuries—ago. But as the Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported, today’s community colleges are now looking to change that, as they look to develop programs specifically aligned to the goals of 21st century students.

Arielle Martinez reported that states like Kentucky are now using workforce data to construct the degree programs of today for the economy of tomorrow. As Martinez writes:

The Kentucky Community and Technical College system, of which Big Sandy is part, is using data gathered from online job listings to develop more programs geared toward getting students ready for the work force. The data are collected by the job-market-analytics company Burning Glass Technologies, which says it does a daily digital scan of some three million job openings on 40,000 job-listing websites to gauge the demand for specific skills and credentials.

For more than a decade, our nation has told its learners that a postsecondary degree was a requirement to successfully participate in the 21st century economy. To support this belief, the White House made a pledge in 2009 to return the United States to the top of the global list when it comes to the percentage of citizens with a college degree.

Actions taken by Kentucky and many other states demonstrate the importance of aligning the pursuit of postsecondary degrees with both economic realities and student interests. As more students see the relevance of the degree programs before them, and see how those degrees are necessary to obtaining the careers they dream of, more students will seek and obtain those needed postsecondary degrees.

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