Good morning, Parents.
There seems to be a very real public perception that high schools in general do too much promoting of students going to college. I heard a commentator on a Sunday morning news program say, “High schools push for every student to go to college.” This perception may come from the fact that as educators we certainly all have strong beliefs about the value of education. And furthermore, I suppose that our school goals around college and career readiness, and even to some degree ACT scores, may also support that perception in some ways. However, the purpose of my message this morning is to convince you that it is simply not true that we think all students should go to college. Instead, we want exactly what you want as parents, for each student to pursue a career that really connects with their interests, skills and abilities, and we want them to be fully prepared to pursue and succeed in the careers of their choice.
I also heard on a Sunday morning show that there are 5.8 million jobs open and available in our country right now, and 70% of those jobs do not require a college education. What’s more, many of those 70% of non-college jobs are good paying jobs. Because of the YA and Co-op programs, we have had opportunities to meet with many Sheboygan County employers and tour their facilities. They desperately want the next generation of workers to see the types of jobs that are available and the modern day work environments, because they are concerned that students have no idea how good the job opportunities are right here in Sheboygan County. I will admit that initially I was surprised by the quality of the jobs and work environments, they are much higher quality than I had assumed before seeing them first hand. LTC’s training facilities are the same way, state of the art, high tech, and very professional. And beyond just the work environment and quality of the job, it is clear that career opportunities for skilled workers and technically trained positions are also very positive in terms of the salary and lifestyle. The earning gap between college graduates and skilled/trained technical positions is definitely closing.
I want to point out that our college and career readiness goals, and our desire to produce uncommon ACT scores as a result, is not solely focused on those going to college. Let me illustrate this by sharing Lakeshore Technical College’s ACT requirements for entering most programs. Students scoring 15, 16 and 17 on the ACT can very likely get into most technical training programs. However, in their academic areas of weakness–usually math–they will have to take remedial coursework. This means they will have to take non-credit earning remedial courses or supplementary courses that do not fulfill program requirements because they are not fully prepared. Students scoring 18 on the ACT in math, reading and writing do not need to take any non-credit classes, and can move directly into taking courses that meet the program requirements. Students scoring at least 18 on the ACT are fully ready for technical training, they will not have to waste time and money on non-credit classes. Statistics also show they are far more likely to complete the programs.
My dad used to say that it is really important to find a career that you enjoy because it is too hard to get up each morning if you don’t like your work. I think that is what we all want for our children, for them to find a career that they enjoy, can be successful in, and that will support them well. There is a very wide range of career options available to our students, and many of those good options do not require a college education, but they do require career readiness skills in math, reading and writing.
I would encourage all parents to have ongoing discussions with your children about their career choices and readiness for those opportunities. It is one of the bigger decisions in life, so it would seem wise to research possibilities and requirements, shadow people in that career, and learn as much as possible to make the best decision possible. My experience would suggest that will only be done in as complete a manner as necessary if parents play a big role in asking questions and guiding their children.
Have a great week,