Independence Day 2015, A Holiday for Flip Floppers

What was your first act of independence?

For most of us in America, it’s going to college. Whether you are a high school student moving away from home for the first time or you’re an adult degree seeker, going for your degree is a bold act of ambition. It’s a choice to be stronger and more successful as an individual.

A degree is a declaration of independence.

             Independence Day 2015, Is a Day For Flip Floppers

The American Founders, responsible for that Declaration of Independence we just celebrated, were blindfold haters. And now for a DegreeCast History Flashback!

We Americans love to talk about how brave the colonists were for standing up to the strongest government (with the biggest army) in the world. England was terrifyingly huge, much like Google or the Kardashian/Jenner family. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams knew that declaring independence from the British crown was a BFD. No one had ever done it before.

But what drove those early 4th of July partiers wasn’t the thrill of punching out the giant.  It also wasn’t the future promise of lawn chairs, barbecued meats, and Bruce Springsteen. The colonists were simply tired of stupid games.

The British had been forcing the Americans to play an international game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. “Close your eyes and just trust us,” the Brits might have said.  “We have your best interests in mind. We’ll give you options—just let us point you in the direction.”

Tired of the control from across the Atlantic, the revolutionaries wanted to make their own choices and choose their own destinies.

And 225+ years later, we still celebrate the time the revolutionaries flipped the tables and called BS on the British blindfolders.  Sure, Americans might sometimes put the tail on the donkey’s nose, but since 1776 we do it with our eyes wide open.  It’s our choice and our (jack)ass—and that’s the way we like it.

It’s Independence Day 2015, so our question here at DegreeCast: how do you pick a degree program? Do you know the many options you have or do you trust junk mail, dated booths at college fairs, and online banner ads?

It’s Independence Day any day you want. Declare yours with DegreeCast.

Where’s the Beef (Science)?

Best SF Burger 15 RomoloInternational Hamburger Day is May 28th. So what if we are 25 days early. @DegreeCast we just love burgers. So we’ve got you 1 right over here. She’s short & savory.

Where’s the Meat (Science)?

What do you get when you combine a tasty taco ingredient and a nerdy subject from high school? What do you call the formalized study of arguments, fights, and bad blood between people?

Beef Science” might sound like something you’d draw in the game “Cards Against Humanity,” but Beef—and the world it comes from—can actually be a launching point for your future.

You can study everything from food science to veterinary science.  Want to learn the ropes of running a restaurant?  How about learning the ropes of a ranch?  You could study how to raise, nurture, sell, cook, or preserve livestock.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?  There are degrees in the benefits of vegetarian nutrition. Or botany.

Ground Beef

Did you know that there are patents on cuts of meat? Food business can be pretty big business.  And did you know that animal husbandry isn’t only legal in all 50 states, it isn’t even considered weird?

Stick your fork into a search on DegreeCast.  Because even Beef can be an adventure.

Make Money on Tax Day

1040’s = EZ$$$

People complain every April about paying taxes. But what’s it like to make bank in the spring while everyone else sends money to Uncle Sam? Did you know that there are degree programs out there that can lead to opportunities that turn Tax Day into Pay Day?

Discover MoneyBall Degrees

Level One:  Bookkeeping helps Small Businesses across the US

When somebody makes it rain, somebody has to count the raindrops. Everybody needs to keep track of money, whether it’s in a shoebox full of receipts or a ledger.  Did you know that there are 1-2 year degree programs in keeping small business books?  Did you know that the average yearly salary for Bookkeepers in the US is $34,000, according to Indeed.com? You do now.

Level Two:  Public Accounting gets you into Big Business

Companies love a person who’s good with numbers. A degree in Accounting prepares you to get your business on. There’s a world to discover in programs around the country that teach you about how to be the numbers person for a company. Most programs are 2-4 years long and can be found in schools anywhere in the country.

Level Three:  Go Global with a Graduate Certificate in International Taxation

If you want to see yourself in pinstripes but you can’t make the Yankees, you might start by searching for Business programs that will take you the world over. Make your move to discover a career that might require both math and passport skills.

Level Four:  Tax Law

You want to go really hard with your MoneyBall game? Become a Master of Taxation Science. Discover programs that offer one of the coolest, nerdiest sounding degrees that anyone can earn in higher education.  Your search starts now.

And that’s DegreeCast this Tax Day.  Helping you discover a degree that could pay off in a job that makes tax season a time for profits for you.

Discover your degree. Discover your self.

Because a degree is an adventure.

College Rankings: The Other Inflation

How does your college choice rank?It’s the time of year when high school grads and their parents grab a copy of the latest college ranking publications from sources such as Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and US News and World Report in hopes of slimming down their prospective colleges lists. While higher-ranked schools come with heftier tuition costs, we must ask: is it worth it? Are the college ranks giving you an accurate picture of the education you will receive?

We’ve got news for you: the recent trend shows rankings have changed and they give no guarantee you’ll be getting the quality education the higher price tag appears to offer. It’s time to read these reports skeptically and start finding supplementary sources of information to make sure your educational goal is met.

In the current Education Week, writers and researchers Frederick “Rick” Hess and Taryn Hochleitner collected and compared published college rankings from the past twenty years, and discovered the rankings system over the past two decades has changed significantly and caused what Hess considers inflation. With Barron’s, for example, he shares this data:

The number of schools in the top category doubled between 1991 and 2011. In 1991, 44 schools ranked as “most competitive.” In 2011, 87 did. The growth is due to a slew of institutions migrating up to the top tier: 17 schools moved up between 1991 and 2001, and 28 more since 2001. The ranks of the “highly” and “very competitive” have also grown steadily since 1991.

Hess goes on to ask: “Do these findings reflect more schools being ranked? Nope. The total number of schools in the rankings has barely changed, meaning that the distribution of schools has shifted.” In another publication for the American Enterprise Institute,  he writes: “[T]he club is not nearly as exclusive as it used to be.”

Barron’s isn’t the only college rank publisher whose top-tier college list has different criteria (and therefore, different weight) than it used to, but Hess and Hochleitner use it to illustrate one very important point in today’s college selection process: It’s one thing to go to a prestigious school. It’s quite another thing to get a meaningful education. Hess warns that students and parents must supplement these published reports with other sources of information to get an accurate picture of just how important one particular school’s ranking is over another’s.

Hess summarizes:

Rankings and labels can help prospective students and their parents navigate the college-selection process. But these labels need to be viewed with more care and skepticism than they often are. Faux exclusivity might be good for a school’s endowment or parents’ bragging rights, but it too often encourages families to pay top-shelf prices for store-brand merchandise. So, students and parents, choose away—but let the buyer beware.

DegreeCast, which launches before the end of June, can help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. With data straight from the schools, you can discover tuition costs, book costs, and individual program information, as well as information on the school’s staffing and relationships with various corporations. We’re excited about DegreeCast’s launch, and we hope to help students of all types — new, returning, and adult non-traditional — get the data they need to meet their own educational goals.

Aside from school rankings, what other criteria do you use to find the college or program that’s right for you? Leave us a comment and tell us what you’re looking for.