Tag Archives: graduates

Yellen to college grads: Best job market in nearly a decade

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that college graduates are entering the strongest job market the country has seen in nearly a decade, and their degree is more important than ever.

Yellen said that with changes in the job market such as technology and globalization, succeeding in the job market is increasingly tied to higher education.

“Those with a college degree are more likely to find a job, keep a job, have higher job satisfaction and earn a higher salary,” Yellen said in remarks at commencement ceremonies at the University of Baltimore.

She said that annual earnings for college graduates last year were on average 70 percent higher than those with only a high school diploma. Back in 1980 that difference was only 20 percent, she said.

Yellen said the increasing demand for people with college and graduate degrees reflected the need for higher technological skills and the impact of globalization, which allows goods and services to be produced anywhere. She said those trends were likely to continue.

“Success will continue to be tied to education, in part because a good education enhances one’s ability to adapt to a changing economy,” she said.

In her remarks, Yellen did not make any comments about Fed interest-rate policies. The Fed last week boosted its benchmark rate by a quarter-point. It was the first increase in a year. In making the announcement, the Fed projected that it would move rates up another three times in 2017.

Yellen said that in addition to the improvement in the unemployment rate, which in November fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent, there have been recent signs that wage growth is picking up.

But Yellen noted that challenges remain.

“The economy is growing more slowly than in past recoveries and productivity growth, which is a major influence on wages, has been disappointing,” she told the graduates.

Stand out grads: Getting noticed at the ceremony

It’s hard to stand out at graduation when dozens, hundreds or even thousands of your classmates are dressed in identical caps and gowns.

But some students individualize their appearance by decorating their mortarboards. Designs range from a simple lettered message like “Thanks, Mom and Dad!” to an elaborate craft project with images, glitter or 3-D constructions. Other students decorate caps with school logos, or fraternity or sorority letters.

At the University of Texas at Dallas last year, Laurel Mohrman had a simple message on her cap: “DEBT FREE.”

A 2014 Lehigh University grad, Lisa Glover, attached a miniature 3-D dinosaur to her cap; Glover launched a business called KitRex after graduating, selling kits to make paper dinosaurs.

Nicole Malli, a senior at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, wants to make sure her cap photographs well when she graduates May 17 because she’s a commencement speaker. She’s been looking on Pinterest for inspiration, and will probably use a pearl design because pearls are the official gemstone of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.

Ali Boden, who is getting her degree in sustainability and business from Arizona State in Tempe, will be taking a trip to Europe after graduation and hopes it’s the first of many trips to see the world. She plans to decorate her cap with a map of the world and a phrase “along the lines of `The world awaits,'” she said. She’s been going to Michael’s, the craft supply store, to figure out the best materials for lettering.

ASU even has a contest to recognize the best-decorated mortarboards.

Ruth Lauture is graduating from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, with a degree in marketing, “so my cap is going to say, `I mean business.’ Something simple, but really meaningful.” The word “mean” will be in pink, partly to help her mom pick her out from the crowd.

Marc Goldberg’s mom had such a hard time finding him at his commencement from Indiana University in 1997 that it inspired him to create a business called TasselToppers.com. Goldberg has now shipped several hundred thousand customized mortarboard designs, which let buyers choose background colors and add images and text. There’s artwork on the TasselToppers website, or you can upload your own. Universities have licensed their logos to the company, and some colleges are encouraging high school seniors to put their future alma maters’ names on caps at 12th grade graduation ceremonies.

TasselToppers’ finished designs cost $15 and are printed on durable plastic the size of the mortarboard, with reusable adhesives. That way, rented caps can be returned undamaged, and commencement policies that don’t permit mortarboard decorations can be temporarily accommodated.

Goldberg says he’s been amazed at “the creative stuff that people come up with,” including touching messages “in loving memory of a mom or dad who could not be there. It’s a concept that they’re looking down on them at graduation and the cap is looking back up.”

Also noteworthy, Goldberg says, are designs ordered by older students who may have taken years to finish their degrees (“49 years old, finally done”); single moms declaring, “I did it for my kids”; and designs honoring students who are the first in their family to graduate. He also partnered with Autism Speaks to include the organization’s puzzle-piece logo on his website so that students with issues related to autism can add that symbol to their caps as they celebrate their achievements.

“Everyone has a story,” Goldberg says.

Lav Grads celebrate fifth ceremony

The UW-Milwaukee LGBT Resource Center celebrated its fifth annual Lavender Graduation ceremony — “Lav Grad ’14” — on May 14.

Graduating students can self-identify as a Lav Grad, or can be nominated by a member of the UWM community.

 “The ceremony means something different to every student who identifies as a Lav Grad, but they all wear their rainbow tassel with a shared sense of LGBT+ UWM pride!” said Jen Murray, director of UWM’s LGBT Resource Center. 

A highlight of this year’s ceremony was the recognition of Joseph R. Pabst, whose donations made the university’s first Lavender Graduation possible in May 2010.

“Joe Pabst’s support of this annual ceremony has meant giving voice and recognition to students who may, at times, have felt they were invisible or who may not have enjoyed a broad web of support during their academic careers,” said UWM Dean of Students Timothy Gordon. 

Survey finds most liberal, most conservative alumni

The U.S. Air Force Academy and Reed College in Oregon, when it comes to the social and political views their alumni, are on the extreme, opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Based on a survey in “The Alumni Factor,” a new book that ranks colleges based on the success of graduates in their careers and lives, Reed’s alumni are the most liberal college grads in the United States and the Air Force Academy’s graduates are the most conservative.

Rounding out the top 10 liberal colleges and universities, based on data from their alumni, are Oberlin, Macalester, Grinnell, Bard, Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan and Smith.

In addition to the Air Force Academy, the schools with the most conservative alumni are Brigham Young, Auburn, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, Texas A & M, University of Mississippi, Georgia Institute of Technology, Baylor and the University of Alabama.

The political leanings of the schools’ alumni were based on an assessment of responses to 20 hot-button questions, including gay marriage, racial profiling, abortion rights and government-funded health care.

Monica McGurk, executive editor of “The Alumni Factor,” said more than 42,000 alumni in the survey were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with each statement regarding the controversial social issues.

The questions were asked in both affirmative and negative ways to control for bias, she said.

Each college’s alumni responses were then plotted relative to one another on a “very liberal” to “very conservative” spectrum.