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Everyone is College Material

Submitted by on April 16, 2008 – 10:57 amNo Comment

Dr.-Norman-Stephens-wide

One of the truly rewarding consequences of spending a career associated with community colleges is seeing what a difference these institutions make in the lives of people. Nowadays, most educators counsel high school students to continue their education after they receive their diplomas. We feel very strongly that everyone should go to “college” after high school. Perhaps this is an unrealistic expectation, but let me explain.

First, some disclaimers. What we mean by “college” is not necessarily the old image. Not everyone needs a baccalaureate degree. Furthermore, some may choose to delay going to college after high school for a variety of very legitimate reasons including military service, religious commitments, and family responsibilities, among others. If you choose to join the military, one of the benefits you will gain is the opportunity to continue your education, either while in the service or after separation. We urge you to take advantage of that privilege. If you have a strong faith and responsibility to your religious traditions, by all means follow that path–it is a learning experience that is beyond high school that will help you grow in your ability to deal with life’s pressures and challenges, but don’t forget to consider the long run and take care of the formal education you need to pursue your goals. If you have family responsibilities that make it difficult to continue your education, come talk to us. Many students balance college with family and job responsibilities quite successfully. We can advise you on how to manage this.

It is very difficult in this millennium to find a fulfilling career without education beyond high school, and succeeding in the world of work without a high school diploma is just about impossible, unless you are very smart, very lucky, or both. In Florida, the vast majority of today’s high school graduates go to college right out of high school–about two out of three. Many of the others come back to college after military service, after raising families, or to seek new and different career possibilities. In DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties, the percentage is lower than the state and national average, but it is still more than half.

You may not realize this, but 85 percent of all adults over the age of 25 have a high school diploma, the most ever in the history of the United States–and the percentage increases every year. You can verify this by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, where you should find a press release that reports this surprising statistic. A century ago, 85 percent of adults did not finish high school. Today, almost 30 percent of adults have at least a baccalaureate degree–also the most ever in history.

The old notion of a “college education” needs to be updated. Many people attend college to increase their knowledge and skills but without necessarily pursuing a degree. Many jobs require a post-secondary certificate or license but not necessarily a college degree. Many people who already have a college degree go back to “college” to prepare for new job requirements that may not have existed when they first took the job. Many excellent careers do not require bachelor’s degrees but do require various nationally accepted credentials. Some of these careers offer an earning potential that is greater than other careers where a baccalaureate degree is expected. In a nutshell, education should be a lifelong pursuit, because we live in a very dynamic world.

I’ve known many people who were told, or who believed, they were not “college material.” I’ve seen them succeed in college. Everyone is college material! If you don’t believe me, come visit us and find out what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it and if you get the kind of support you need to be successful.

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