I was asked recently asked by someone who is mentoring an at-risk youth, “Is college for everyone?”  She wondered about how valid it was for her to push the idea of college for someone who might not be able to handle the financial costs.

As we talked, it became clear that the mentor had real passion for seeing her student succeed. She held high expectations for the teenager’s success. She also wanted to be realistic.

My first response was that low-income people may have financial aid available to them so cost was not always the primary issue. But academic college? That may be another question, altogether.

The Huffington Post reported in a Dr. Bonnie Snyder article that with young graduates the real unemployment rate was about 17%. Another Huffington Post article by William McGuinness stated that “of 41.7 million working college graduates in 2010, about 48 percent of the class of 2010 work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree, and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need high school diplomas.”

But those statistics do not lead to an easy yes or no answer to the question, “Is college for everyone?”

College may indeed not be the best route for some AND…ending one’s education with only a high school diploma or its equivalent is also not the solution. Look at these numbers from www.parentfurther.com/parenting/money/jobs:

“A student who drops out of school at eighth grade will earn about $17,000 a year.

A student who drops out of high school between grades 9 and 12 will earn about $20,000 a year.

A student who graduates from high school but does not pursue post-secondary education will earn about $27,000 a year.

A two-year college degree will earn that individual about $35,000 a year, and getting a four-year college degree will result in about $43,000 a year.

If your child goes on to earn a master’s degree, he can expect to make an average of $52,000 a year.

A doctorate degree? $71,000. And a professional degree such as medical or law means about $82,000 a year.”

Whether you agree with the specific numbers or not, it is clear that the more education one receives, the better the earning potential.

Back to the original question: “Is college for everyone?” No. But post-secondary education is essential. Training as medical technicians in radiology, dental, etc., auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, or in manufacturing technology can be financially and personally rewarding.  There are lots of careers that require more training than simply a high school diploma but not a college degree.

Is college right for everyone? No. But  ongoing post-secondary education is a must!

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