4 Things High School Students Should Know Before Graduation

As the stakes rise regarding the necessity of a high school diploma for lifelong success, so do the standards to earn one. High school graduates today must know more than the generations that came before them, both in academic and real-world applications. All of the lesson planning from Kindergarten forward funnels student information into the end goal of high school and college graduation.

While rigorous academics can certainly prepare students for college, which is just one facet of what I believe they should know. There is no way to totally prepare a young adult for the realities of the college experience and what it will mean for his or her long-term success, but there are some things that high school educators should emphasize, including:

The cost of a college education. We are so quick to push our students towards a college education that we often forget the practicalities. While in most cases a college degree will pay off in the end, it is expensive upfront and can have an impact on the early years of adulthood. It is flawed thinking to assume that young people with very limited experience with their personal finances will truly be able to comprehend the cost and sacrifice of a college education. Any efforts to better inform students about the responsibility and reality of a college education should not be undertaken as a discouragement but rather as a way to inform them of what those things will mean in real-life settings. Things like estimated college loan repayments, and for how long, should be discussed and put in terms of how many hours of work that money will end up equaling.

The importance of a college degree. While it does come at a cost, a college degree is well worth it over the course of a lifetime. People with bachelor degrees earn nearly $1 million more over their lifetimes than their peers who receive high school diplomas. People with master’s degrees earn closer to $1.3 million more. So even the most expensive colleges, if paid out of pocket and through loans, still do not tally up to the lifetime earnings potential of a college graduate versus a high school one. A college degree holds more than financial value though. There is the issue of job stability and security too. By 2018, over 60 percent of jobs will require a college degree and that number is sure to rise. This next generation of K-12 students simply cannot afford to bypass college learning and this should be emphasized to high school students whenever higher education is discussed.

The outlook in the industry of interest. From a young age, children are asked the inevitable “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question. With stars in their eyes, they talk about the jobs that seem the most glamorous – firefighters, movie stars, doctors and maybe even teachers. While all of these are noble career choices, high school students should have a firm grasp on the field they want to pursue in terms of job opportunities and earning potential. Again, this is not to discourage students from following what they believe to be their calling – but it is a way to guide them into their field of interest with eyes wide open.

Alternatives to college. What if a student cannot afford to go to college; what do they do then? We have to explain to students that sometimes life throws you lemons, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up and settle for less. We have to teach them that here are other ways to get the education they want without shelling out huge amounts of cash or placing themselves in debt.

Short diploma courses, like the diploma of community services from BCA National are geared towards offering practical learning, without the huge price tag. The best thing about short courses, particularly online ones, are that they are affordable and offer tremendous flexibility as well as a real diploma that people can use in their job applications. Students may want to consider obtaining this type of practical training if they need to gain skills that will be useful in various types of positions.

What else should high school students know after high school?

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