Posted on 11/23/2015 at 07:51 AM by Liz Determan

Parents and students need to become more aware of the fact that a four-year degree does not guarantee success or even a job upon graduation from a college or university.  “Graduates with liberal arts degrees tend to do worse in the job market than many other graduates.  This is the case shortly after graduation – but the disparity can last a decade or more afterwards…simply put, it usually leads to below average wages,” says Mark S. Schneider, “Ask Me Anything” (http://www.air.org/event/ask-me-anything-mark-s-schneider-value-college-education , pg. 4)  The more clear our students are about what they are passionate about doing and what occupational opportunities align to their passions, the better choices they can make about which postsecondary institution, apprenticeship or certification they need to make that dream come true.

Another concern that seems to be growing among employers across our nation is that we have an ever-increasing number of college graduates who are significantly lacking in marketable skills.  So the concern that our high school graduates are college and career ready becomes somewhat of a mute point when our college graduates are struggling to be able to demonstrate proficiency in critical thinking, complex communication, problem-solving, innovative thinking (creativity), adaptability/flexibility, and initiative and collaboration. 

If we can get parents and students to do research on and develop career goals that are driven by the student’s passion and interests, there might be a significant savings at the postsecondary level of training because it would be more focused and intentional.   A great place to start is with the Occupational Outlook Handbook, found on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website:  www.bls.gov/ooh .  Just a quick glance and you can find projections for the 20 occupations with the highest numeric change in employment, fastest growing and highest paying – which are not all the same 20 occupations by the way.  This is really critical information for our students to have when considering their education and training options beyond high school.  A recognition, as well, that the PK-12 educational system must include student development of their “soft” skills that go beyond academic achievement to knowing how to live and work successfully in the world outside the school walls.  Please take advantage of these great, FREE resources to guide your students into career choices that make sense for them. 

          Five questions to have your students research are:

1.  Will I get in? (Selectivity)     

2.  Will I get out? (Graduation rate)     

3.  How long will it take? (Time to degree)

4.  How much will it cost? (Net price not sticker price)                              

5.  How much will I make?

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