Degrees of Discomfort
The day the mortarboard caps were sent flying through the air, every graduating senior thought the worst of it was over.They had survived the grueling four-year long battle to maintain excellence, rising through the ranks, from scraggy, scrawny Lieutenants to rugged, robust Generals.Despite their major victory, they had yet to win the war.In our world, the first foot out of high school is a step into college.Graduates are fed lies that college is the only guarantee to happiness.
High schools should not require graduates to immediately pursue a college education because not all successful careers require a degree. Students will have the opportunity to succeed even without spending four years obtaining a costly degree.A common misconception in the United States is that without a degree, students have no chance of earning enough money to make a living.Today, 28 percent of workers without a bachelor’s degree or higher earn more than the average worker with a degree (Rubiner).No degree?No problem!As many as 360 different occupations without the college prerequisite offer better-than-average pay, including numerous employments in “high-demand jobs such as truck drivers, repair and maintenance workers, carpenters, and executive secretaries/administrative assistants,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Hudson).Additionally, there are more new jobs that will not require a degree than will require one.
Over 69% of job openings projected in 2016 will require no college education (Hudson).The majority of these new jobs are “in the fast-growing health and IT sectors, such as radiologic technician, dental hygienist, licensed practical nurse, and computer support specialist” (Hudson). Twice as many new jobs will not require a degree as will require one, yet our society still views college as the end all, be all.Finally, numerous high achieving people do not have a degree.Governor Scott Walker, one of many GOP governors who were in the race for presidency but withdrew before the primaries, never attended a university, yet there was little doubt that he should have been in the candidate pool.
President Harry Truman is another notable figure who never stepped foot in a university. After leaving high school, “he worked briefly as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, then as a clerk in two Kansas City banks” (Truman: HST Biography).In 1906 he began to help his father run the family farm, and worked as a farmer for over ten years (Truman: HST Biography).Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, perfectly explains what citizens care about in a prospective president: “What matters isn’t whether they finished college thirty or forty years ago, but how they’ve been performing in recent years, what kinds of advisers they are associating with, and what that implies for their potential success as president” (Petrilli). Diplomas will rot away, while skillsets and experience will forever set one apart in society.
Our world has taken a turn for the worse.It is unfortunate to recognize, but many graduating seniors feel that traditional college is their only option to have a successful career; however, there are numerous ways to learn the skills necessary for a job and stand out to the job interviewer.One such way is through apprenticeships.Apprenticeships provide the opportunity for prospective employees to be trained in a specialized sector, even receiving a small salary as they learn.In 2007, new apprentices and apprenticeships (paid) comprised 4% of new jobs (Hudson).Although apprenticeships make up only a small percentage of paying jobs, they provide the knowledge necessary to succeed in the workforce without breaking the bank.
Another way is through occupational courses in high school.Such courses can educate students in occupational fields such as business support, agriculture, or health science courses.Students see the value in these courses: “92% of public high school students take at least one occupational course” (Hudson).Showing an interest in a specific field in high school, and having courses under their belt in said field, will set students apart to their prospective employers.Finally, students could enroll in a vocational, or trade, school.
Here, students can enjoy “relatively short, career-focused programs that quickly prepare graduates for the workforce” (“What Are Vocational Schools?”).This is a great option for students looking for hands-on careers, such as welding, cosmetology, carpentry, and hotel and restaurant management (“What Are Vocational Schools?”).If one pursues a vocational education, they will spend less time in school.The average vocational school enables one to graduate 2-3 years earlier than if one attended a traditional university ( “Trade School vs Traditional College.”).Additionally, a vocational education is less expensive than pursuing a four-year degree: “Your total savings could amount to almost 60%-70% of what you’d spend at university” (“Trade School vs Traditional College.
“).As a society, the narrow-minded view when it comes to post high school education is inhibiting the success and happiness of young adults.Students must realize that college is not the only way to achieve greatness. Instead of encouraging students to all drive down the same road to education, graduates should keep a lifelong interest in any route to learning.In the American mindset, college leads to great careers and lots of money and healthy families and happy households and long lives.According to Petrilli, “Many American leaders are obsessed with college as the path to economic opportunity” (Petrilli).They so easily forget their colleagues who are doing fantastic work without a degree.High schools should not expect graduates to immediately pursue a college education because success does not require a degree, and a degree does not guarantee success.