A Case for Education Beyond High School

There is strong agreement across the spectrum of professions that some degree of post high school (secondary) education, no matter what form it takes – trade and vocational certificate programs or two to four year university/college – is not only beneficial but essential in earning a livable wage in the 21st century. Though we cannot predict the economic (let alone political and social) landscape in the next twenty to thirty years, I can say with confidence that each graduating high school student will need to THINK FOR A LIVING no matter what s/he wishes to do. As Thomas Friedman writes in Thank You For Being Late (2018), in the age of acceleration where technological and scientific trends are redefining our way of life and institutions every five to seven years, it is easy to feel behind and displaced in keeping pace and adapting to the new trends. What one needs to know and be able to do for their future becomes a moving target; the workplace is being “globalized, digitized, automated, and roboticized at a speed, scope, and scale that we have never seen before” (Freedman 254).

To this end, each high school graduate – no matter one’s vocational interests and ambitions – must be armed with essential skills and “habits of mind” to navigate the future. And though we know the challenge of affordability for any post secondary education is a very real concern and daunting hurdle (student debt is now at an all time high), this investment of money, time and willpower will literally pay for itself in earning power over the course of one’s working life. College graduates earn $48,500 annually while students with high school degrees earn $23,900 (NCES, 2015). (Note: Student loans should be kept in check when possible at a reasonable rate of no more than $20-30K after four years.) Given this data, I would argue that high school graduates CANNOT afford NOT to pursue some level of advanced training and studies today given the progression of technological advancements. There is a way and means to get there and to be successful as long as one has the mindset, gumption, and guidance. And support and guidance for everyone is part of High Desert College Collaboratives mission in this process. Whatever your personal circumstance, you do not need to feel alone in your aspirations and journey. Our collaborative can help you with the next steps.