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Old habits die hard, I guess, if the placement statistic offered in an 11/14/2014 story in The Brownsville Herald is any indication. This is the first mention I’ve seen of that much misunderstood placement rate in quite a while, this time uttered by TSTC Harlingen’s interim president, one Stella Garcia, to wit:

“We want to make sure we continue on the path of success we’re on right now,” TSTC Interim President Stella Garcia said. “We have a 95 percent job placement rate and students come to TSTC because they know they’ll get a job after graduation. We want to continue to move forward the next 50 years and get as close to 100 percent as possible and continue with that legacy of success.”

Prospective students reading that 95% may have thought, and quite naturally so, that Ms. Garcia meant that 95% of grads or completers got jobs in their TSTC field of study. Nope. That 95% includes jobs in the field, out of the field, full-time, part-time, people who go into the military, and even people who transfer to another college. Read “Technical College Placement Rates Gradually Going Away in Media? to get a more detailed explanation, complete with documentation, of how those placement rates are figured. Oh, and “placement” sounds like such an active endeavor by an institution, doesn’t it? Sadly enough, all grads and completers have to do is show up in a database to count, whether a college had anything to do with helping them find jobs or “placing” them or not.

The good news is that officials are really starting to slow down on bandying about that misleading placement rate. They used to shout it out every chance they got like carnival barkers trying to hustle people into their tents. Now that I’m hearing less and less barking about those rates these days, I would expect fewer and fewer students to enroll with inflated expectations. In terms of the public good, that’s a very good thing.

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