As students move closer to high school graduation, many are questioning not only what path to take – college, job, military, but even within each of the options, there are so many choices. It can be overwhelming.
The New York Times ran an article recently about three high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, who were struggling with these options. In many ways, these students appeared to be a good small sample of cross-section of various student types.
One student in the Times‘ story was worried about taking on a large amount of debt and still not having a job upon college graduation. I suspect he’s not alone. Parents are worried about this, too. With the high visibility recently of so many stories on crippling student debt, this is an understandable concern.
Of course, in a perfect world, students would like to focus on a college education that is both affordable and prepares students for jobs that are plentiful in the market. The trouble is that it is difficult for the average 17- or 18-year-old be able to discern and compare all of this information on their own. It’s tough enough for adults!
There are 4000 colleges in the U.S. and many hundreds of degree programs. The job market is pivoting faster than ever before. We do not yet know what all of the many new employment areas of the future will be.
Despite the fact that the last census showed that average income still correlates strongly with level of education, we know that there are no guarantees. Higher education remains a frightening proposition for many, yet so many jobs require a college degree.
Many school counselors have so many students assigned to them that it is virtually impossible to spend much significant time with any of them.
How do we help high school students to navigate these continually changing future options? How can we build a process that is more predictable, affordable, stable and less frightening? That’s one of the main issues I’d like to address in the weeks ahead on this site. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of joint discovery!