Plenty to check out in the Times’ Education Life section today, picking up on a lot of themes discussed here.

Making College RelevantBy Kate Zernicke

THOMAS COLLEGE, a liberal arts school in Maine, advertises itself as Home of the Guaranteed Job! Students who can’t find work in their fields within six months of graduation can come back to take classes free, or have the college pay their student loans for a year. … Even before they arrive on campus, students — and their parents — are increasingly focused on what comes after college. What’s the return on investment, especially as the cost of that investment keeps rising? How will that major translate into a job?

Does Service Learning Really Help?By Stephanie Strom

A positive experience usually requires a considerable investment of time and planning on the part of academic institutions and faculty. Ideally, service learning enriches a particular course of study, and students have the opportunity to reflect in the classroom on their experiences. In reality, service learning often seems unconnected to any curriculum — painting park benches, for example. At its most basic, it can be hard to distinguish from plain vanilla community service.

You Can Go Back Again – By Rachel Aviv

Traditionally, career counselors have cut off graduates 6 or 12 months out. But with an influx of requests from alumni who are now or fear they soon will be unemployed, career services offices have become a hub for disenchanted graduates, some of whom have not been back to campus for years. In the last year, Boulder had so many visits from alumni that the career services office hired a new staff member to focus exclusively on their needs. In addition to administering personality tests, editing résumés, facilitating opportunities for networking and doing interview prep, the newly hired alumni counselor, Lea Alvarado, finds herself spending a good deal of time simply offering encouragement.

Ten Master’s of the New Universe – By Nancy Hass

And then came the quiet revolution. Spawned by a realization in university circles that master’s programs could be wildly profitable — especially within low-cost departments of continuing education — and a growing sense that in a shifting employment market the best jobs would require specialized training, such degrees have exploded. Nearly twice as many master’s degrees were awarded in 2008 than in 1980.

According to the Times, the winning degrees include cybersecurity, urban infrastructure, and engines.

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