By JEFF JOBE
It is the time of year where our local high schools are bursting with pride as thousands of students are graduating. They have devoted 12 years and done all that is expected of them to earn their high school diplomas.
As the proud father of two high school graduates I am very familiar with the process. Some kids probably don’t put a lot of thought into the next step of their life while others have spent the better part of the last 9 months dreaming about what they might do next.
The dream usually centers around what must be done in order to provide for themselves, a family, or accomplish what my grandmother used to say was needed “to get ahead in life.”
Getting ahead takes on many forms but it seems the assumption is to automatically go to college. Why is it we adopt the belief that a college degree is the only way to get ahead? How much longer will we overlook the qualities of students and see them as individuals.
Of course, some kids love college and they excel in the environment. But why must it be a bad thing that some kids just may not fit the “four-year” mold? And is it not wrong to delay the desire and passion for the young person who is all about being a “hands-on learner”? Some people are just down right geniuses who can make things go!
Being a publisher whose name has appeared on a ballot with an R beside it automatically puts me on the side of the enemy in a large section of the educational world.
It seems if you don’t agree with them 100% then you are a really bad fella. But I will openly and honestly tell you the absolute only thing my college education did for me was help pad my resume.
I believe we must have more opportunities to combine education with training for jobs. Because unlike when I was leaving college the degree alone isn’t enough. Too many times we see college graduates finishing their education, taking a job for $25,000 and soon find out they may owe as much as $80,000 in student loans.
I believe Confucius said, “if you love your work you will never work a day in your life.” Can we not incorporate this into education?
It is a very sticky subject in Kentucky because the status quo educational system has their hands in the pockets of our legislative process. I have not a single issue with higher education except that it is beginning to seem like a very bad investment if something doesn’t change.
This is exactly what our Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton tried to convey to a student newspaper and the Courier Journal all but roasted her for it. All she was trying to do was push kids who wanted jobs to where the jobs are at this time. No disrespect to anyone but I agree with her and will go so far as to say if Kentucky had no college graduates with History degrees for the next couple years we would still have thousands of them in assembly lines years later.
An option seldom discussed is career and technical training and when it is discussed it is usually reserved for the student who asks about college that may not have a strong academic record and the counselor wants to let them down easily by saying, “you would be a good candidate for trade school.”
This is not at all the case anymore because more and more educational opportunities are rooted in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and they are getting results.
It is simple because these schools are beginning to pay attention and are asking employers what they need instead of churning out more and more graduates with degrees in which there is no demand.
For the student choosing to study in a career and technical school, I’m predicting owing pennies on the dollar in student loans while earning an above-average salary when they enter the workforce compared to the college graduate who will likely owe tens of thousands in student loans and may spend years finding a job.
Which do you feel is the best investment?
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com