Pathways to Success

Do All Roads Lead to College?

A high school education is no longer sufficient to obtaining a good paying job in the United States.  Good paying middle class jobs are disappearing quickly for those with only a high school diploma.  Does that mean that everyone should go to and earn a Bachelor’s degree?  The answer is complicated and not completely clear and depends on whom you talk to.

The Harvard School of Eduction published a report in 2012 titled the Pathways to Prosperity.  The report highlighted the struggle that young people in the United States were having in obtaining meaningful work in their chosen field or career.  The goal of going to college and receiving the cherished 4yr degree may be misplaced for some students and young people who have been led to believe that this s the only credible career path to achieve perceived success of financial wealth.

As I sit on a college university today during finals week attending my own professional conference, I am humbled by the number of students diligently studying, relaxing before the next test or looking relieved that it is all over for this semester.  I wonder how many of these same students will graduate within 6 years of starting and how many may drop out for financial or other reasons.  Currently, the completions rate for college students is at about 59%  What happens to the rest?

My guess is that many end up in low paying, service jobs unable to fulfill their chosen career.  Maybe there’s a better way.  Would the 41% that didn’t finish college have been better off with advice to follow a 2 yr. degree, apprenticeship, or technical education?  It seems that all jobs will require addition training beyond high school of some kind.  However, if the only pathway that some students perceive as viable is a 4yr degree, then many will view themselves as failures or worse.

It’s time that new pathways are developed, presented and encouraged by both the education community and the business community that will eventually benefit from such efforts.

What do you think?