November — December 2022 Commentary

Educational results from colleges and universities are now front and center as companies strive to fill vacant positions during a global labor shortage.
Illustration by James Yang
Illustration by James Yang

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
— Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Co.

Education – Private Gains

Educational results from colleges and universities are now front and center as companies strive to fill vacant positions during a global labor shortage. In some cases, businesses are identifying prospective recruits as they enter college and providing them with different jobs during summer breaks, so they can experience multiple operations before beginning a full-time career.

As hiring professionals sift through resumes to fill key positions, it’s becoming more evident that students who attend private schools are often better prepared for their future careers and command higher salaries than their public school counterparts. Consider that graduates with a bachelor’s degree from a private institution have an average starting salary of $59,464, as compared to $55,182 for a graduate of a public college or university — a difference of $4,282.

The gap is even wider for students who earn a master’s degree — average starting salaries are $76,784 for graduates of private schools and $67,896 for those who attended public institutions — or a difference of $8,888, according to Zippia Research. At the same time, tuition at private colleges generally costs more than public institutions, which rely, in part, on taxpayer funds to operate.

The average tuition and fees at a private college are $38,070 per year, compared to $10,740 (in-state) and $27,560 (out-of-state) costs at a public institution, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid, 2021. The wide gap is an eye-opener, at first, but Tarek M. Sobh, president of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, maintains private schools often provide students with more scholarships and other financial assistance than public colleges.

“It’s a myth that private schools are more expensive. While our average yearly tuition is $35,000, we also provide (students with) scholarships of between $5,000 to $20,000 per year, and most are around $10,000,” Sobh says. “So that brings our annual average tuition down to $25,000. At the same time, our students can work part time while they’re in school, which equates to $10,000 a year, and that brings the tuition down to $15,000. If a student works part time during the school year and full time over the summer, their tuition is under $10,000.”

While public college students also can work while going to school to offset their tuition costs and avoid large loans, Sobh says private institutions provide a better value when starting salaries are considered for graduates, along with graduation rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 68 percent of first-time, full-time students earned bachelor’s degrees at private, nonprofit institutions. At public schools, the graduation rate was 62 percent for the same graduates.

Taking it a step further, a report released in September by Forbes magazine named Lawrence Technological University one of “America’s Top Colleges,” and the institution was ranked the top university in the three-county area of metro Detroit for highest alumni salaries, at a median of $119,900 10 years after graduation.

“When you look at tax dollars going to public schools, and you look at graduation rates and starting salaries, private schools, in my opinion and based on data, provide a better long-term value,” Sobh says. Private schools also are ahead on another front — the average annual grant aid for students at private schools is $23,080, while it’s  $8,100 at public institutions, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid, 2021.   

Energy – Carbon Future

As politicians and environmental groups work together to boost the supply of energy produced from “green” sources such as wind turbines and solar panels, the rest of the world isn’t following suit. In fact, more energy will be needed from multiple sources to meet future global demand for energy.

According to a new report from the Manhattan Institute, humans generate 84 percent of all energy from hydrocarbons, which is 2 percent lower than 20 decades ago. At the same time, the rest of the world is still catching up to America, where there are nearly as many vehicles as people; fewer than 1 in 20 people have a car in other places.

Another sign of future energy demand comes from the airline industry, where 80 percent of the global population has yet to board a plane. While wind and solar energy often appear to be less expensive than hydrocarbons, consider the added costs of installing expensive electric wires and related equipment to transfer green energy to the grid.

The Manhattan Institute also reports the cumulative subsidies around the globe in recent years for wind, solar, and biofuels has cost some $5 trillion, although these sources only produce 5 percent of global energy. In turn, over the past 20 years, the cost of electricity has risen as utilities are forced by government decrees to build more expensive green energy power sources.

Transportation – Electric Value

While electric vehicles produce far less CO2 than those powered by internal combustion engines, at least when tailpipe emissions are considered, the overall climate effect of adding more battery-powered cars around the world isn’t so one-sided. For starters, producing batteries for EVs is expensive, as manufacturers scour the earth to find, mine, and transport rare elements like lithium and cobalt.

What’s more, EVs generate greater wear on tires and brakes — battery packs are heavy — leading to more particulate pollution than gasoline-powered vehicles. The American Economic Association found that electric vehicles, when all pollution is considered, cause more air emissions than cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines, to the tune of $1,100 over the lifetime of an EV.

For all the investment in EVs over the last decade or so, the future is murky. If every country met its electric vehicle production goals by 2030, around 231 million tons of CO2 would be spared from the atmosphere. But according to The Wall Street Journal, if those savings are entered into the standard United Nations Climate Panel model, the world would achieve a reduction of 0.0002 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.