A college degree, while certainly very helpful in the working world, is not
an automatic ticket to success or a living wage career.A college degree
is only one element among many that contributes to career achievement. Many
motivated, bright people choose to travel a different path from their
college-bound peers for various reasons, and it is important they know that
lacking a college degree does not have to equate to low-paying, unsatisfying,
The key for both the college-bound and those who wish to buy-pass college and go directly into the workforce, is to understand that virtually all satisfying and good-paying jobs require some type of career specific education and/or training. If you choose not to receive that education and training on a college campus, your innate skills, ability to learn, self-study, passion and sheer determination, along with some job specific training, can enable you to do great things.
If you are a parent, counselor or a student, you should give serious thought to the following indicators when considering if an individual should go on to a 4 year university or college. If the individual is a high-achieving student who is interested in learning for learning's sake, intends to become a doctor, accountant, engineer, lawyer, scientist, schoolteacher or other type of professional, college is the right beginning for their career aspirations. If the individual is not prepared academically, financially or mentally for the rigors of college, and is simply interested in getting any degree, with some exceptions, it is most likely a waste of time, money and effort.
No longer is having a baccalaureate degree enough. Our community colleges are filled with individuals who have 4 year degrees, now earning credits in technical and vocational skills so they can secure a living-wage job. A 4 year college degree is not a be-all-and-end-all; it is simply a means to an end. The focus, at the high school level, needs to be turned towards careers. With a focus on careers, college then becomes an educated decision yielding a favorable return on the investment. A Very Important Point: When making a decision – college or technical training – high school students must be prepared for college or work, because they are quickly becoming one and the same.
There are several benefits of preparing students for either college or a vocation. First is the fact that options should be provided to satisfy those who truly are best suited for college while also preparing those students who would rather pursue a trade, technical job or some other interesting career. Also, there would be a significant reduction in the high school drop-out rate. Many young people who quit school do so because they do not see staying any longer will prepare them for a job, and they have no intention to go on to college.
Career preparation at the high school level should also help the “forgotten middle” (the 50% who will not go on and finish college and those who quit school) so they are better equipped for the workplace, rather than becoming a part of the majority of 18 to 28 year-olds who drift continually from job to job before settling into something more permanent. Because the present system does not adequately prepare those leaving school and entering the workforce, tens of millions of productive hours are lost; hours which would help employ and improve the lives of many good individuals.