Apr 6 2013

Fast food American economy: Professor states that low pay jobs part of future. College degree required for McDonald’s job.

It was interesting to hear a Columbia Professor mention that fast food jobs should not be considered as the bottom of the rung of jobs.  These lower paid service sector jobs are actually part of the norm and will be growing.  As the US economy begins to get more and more bifurcated we can expect to see some major extremes.  Recently fast food workers went on strike yet the media seemed not to pay any attention to this.  Of course we are seeing some major strains in the economy.  Is this simply part of our new economy?  Before, being part of the working class was almost seen as an easy road to achieve for most Americans.  Now, even the college educated have a tough time going after the American Dream.  What the Professor mentioned was extremely harsh but it is simply part of the new economy where many workers have very little protection.

This is why it should be no shock that a McDonald’s in Massachusetts posted a job opening where a college degree was required:

“(Huff Po) Hopefully “Do you want fries with that?” is a phrase they teach in college classrooms.

A McDonald’s in Winchendon, Mass., is apparently requiring potential cashiers to have a bachelor’s degree, according to a recent job posting. The ad, posted on jobdiagnosis.com, also says that applicants should be “friendly” and able to “smile while serving lots of guests daily.”

The job opening is with an “independent franchise,” but it also appears on the McDonald’s corporate site, albeit with no note of the bachelor’s degree requirement. McDonald’s corporate headquarters didn’t immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment.”

Don’t you just love this current recovery?  Well at least the food is affordable and healthcare bill is very high but that is a problem for tomorrow.

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Feb 27 2013

Law school applications collapse: Applications to law schools heading to a 30-year low.

Law school applications are falling to 30-year lows.  The concern of course comes from a weak employment market but also the crushing amount of debt required to complete a law degree.  Many prospective students evaluate their decisions based on this and plan accordingly.  Also with information being readily available, students can also compare notes very quickly and adjust their future educational goals.  Back in 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools while this year it is down to 54,000.  This is a dramatic trend change but also reflects something that is rarely talked about.  Many parts of higher education have entered into bubble territory.  That is, prices simply do not justify the actual program.  Where do things go from here?  Can law school applications continue to fall?

Number of law school applicants heads to 30-year low

The number of prospective students applying to law school has fallen dramatically:

Source:  New York Times

The chart above shows an unmistakable trend.  Of course all of this comes in the face of extremely expensive degrees.  Many students are finding that they are landing jobs that don’t even require a law degree:

“(NY Times) In recent years there has also been publicity about the debt load and declining job prospects for law graduates, especially of schools that do not generally provide employees to elite firms in major cities. Last spring, the American Bar Association released a study showing that within nine months of graduation in 2011, only 55 percent of those who finished law school found full-time jobs that required passage of the bar exam.

“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”

This is only the tip of the iceberg here.  Many other high cost programs will see similar changes as the country edges to an economy where the majority of jobs are low wage and a handful of high paying positions.  This was the case in law in previous decades as well but the amount of debt taken on to finance these ventures was never so dramatic.
The fact that law applications are so low should tell you something.  Prospective law students are smart and they are starting to figure it out.

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Feb 18 2013

How To Reduce Student Debt

For a lot of young people the burden of student debt is quite simply overwhelming, and many youngsters, who are just starting their working life, wonder if they will ever be able to pay off the seemingly huge debt they have amassed. Fortunately, the position is not normally quite as bad as it seems at first, and there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce student debt.

Loan Forgiveness

Although many students will move straight from college into employment, others will not yet have found employment, or may not even have finally decided what they wish to do. Finding yourself out of college and with time on your hands, might just provide the perfect opportunity to try something new, and reduce your student debt at the same time.

If you perform volunteer work, for organizations such as AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps or Volunteers in Service to America, the federal government will forgive part of your student loan. This can also happen if you perform military service in the Army National Guard, become a full-time teacher in certain schools, or practice medicine in certain communities. These are just some of the many ways in which you can help in your own personal development by serving others, and lower your student debt while you are doing so.

Loan Consolidation

You will rarely finish your education with just a single student loan, and will often have several loans from both government and private sources. Each of these loans will have interest applied to the principle and will come with its own repayment schedule, so that you making multiple payments each month, often for loans at differing rates of interest.

Consolidating your government loans and private loans into a single loan for each type of lender will make life much easier, but it might also reduce your overall level of debt. Student loan consolidation needs to be undertaken carefully, and is something for which you should seek professional advice. However, combining loans will frequently result in lower interest payments, and thus in lower overall debt.

Pay Off Your Most Expensive Loans First

In some cases it may not be possible, or simply not financial advantageous, to consolidate your student loans and, in these circumstances, it may be possible to reduce your total debt over time by paying down your most expensive loans first.

As a rule, private loans attract the highest rates of interest and often allow little or no flexibility in terms of repayment. Federal loans, however, often attract lower rates of interest and give you choices in terms of how, and when, they are repaid. If your combination of loans allows you to do so, consider slowing down the repayment of government loans at first, so that you can channel as much money as you can afford into clearing your more expensive private loans as quickly as possible. This will have the effect of reducing the total amount paid in interest over the life of your student loans.

Pay Down The Principle

If you are in a position to do so you should always consider paying off the principle on your loan, either on a regular basis or as lump sum payments when available.

Although you will have agreed a repayment schedule for your loans, you may find yourself in a position to make higher monthly payments than are required, and this gives you an opportunity to not only clear your loans more quickly, but also to save on interest charges at the same time. Be careful though, as any additional monies paid, over and above that required, will normally be set against the interest due on the loan, and not the underlying principle. To correct this you will need to write to your lender and make it clear that the additional monies you are paying is to be used to reduce the principle of the loan.

If you are lucky enough to come into a lump sum while you are paying off your student loans then, before you rush out and buy yourself something nice, but expensive, consider using that money to reduce the principle on your debt. Remember that paying $5000 today will reduce your overall repayment by considerably more than $5000, when you take into account the interest payments that you will no longer have to make.

Make A Plan

The secret to reducing your overall level of student debt lies in examining all of the different avenues open to you, and then sitting down and writing out a plan to clear your debt in the most cost effective manner. This plan, though vitally important, should not be set in concrete, because conditions will change over time. So, at least once a year, and preferably every six months, pull out your plan and revise it where necessary. In almost every case where this is done you will find that you can save yourself some money. In many cases, that does not just mean a few dollars, but many hundreds of dollars.

Guest Post:  Author bio

Julia Evans is a freelance writer covering the education sector, amongst others. She provides informative articles on all aspects of student help, tips, techniques and everything else that helps students to get the grade that they deserve. She is currently working as a freelance writer for Oxbridge writers who are a specialist Oxbridge writing service.

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