Depending on whom you ask, high school students no longer need to go to college to have a successful career and make a good salary – instead, some say learning a trade is more profitable. In fact, in his State of the Union address that he made earlier this year, Donald Trump touted the appeal of vocational schools and prompted Congress to invest in workforce development and job training.
“Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential,” said Trump.
But exactly which citizens stand to benefit from trade school rather than college?
It’s no secret that students who graduate from college make more money over their lifetime – about 60 percent more – than students who do not earn a degree. And college graduates are more likely to find a job with a higher starting salary than their non-degreed counterparts.
Besides the financial gains, there are some intangible benefits to attending college as well.
Students who attend college get a level of exposure to people, places and ideas they may not otherwise experience. Schools of higher learning bring together people from various backgrounds with vastly different upbringings and points of view. And for students who choose to study away from home, the exposure to new worlds is compounded.
As any college graduate can attest to, navigating the many twists and turns of the application process, enrollment, class selection, room and board, social duties, financial obligations, and studying helps develop young adults in a way that living at home with mom and dad do not.
Just several weeks ago, Lamar High School student Michael Brown made national headlines when he was accepted to 20 colleges, including four Ivy League schools. While this level of achievement may seem like an anomaly, educators say getting an early start toward preparing for college can boost any student’s chances of acceptance.
“Families that start planning for college as early as middle school can put themselves in a much more powerful position in terms of having options,” said Deidra Lawson, Head of Schools for the new charter school, Yellowstone College Prep. “To help your child have the best advantage, it’s great to start planning their academic future ahead of time. Getting them on the path toward college begins with a curriculum that promotes critical thinking and lays a foundation for the robust work students can expect in high school, and eventually in college.”
These days, merely attending and graduating from a university is not enough to guarantee a lucrative career. With the prevalence of jobs requiring proficiency in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, parents are encouraged to consider middle and high schools that focus on these areas of study.
“At Yellowstone College Prep, we expose students to concepts and experiences with the idea of helping them compete on a global scale,” said Lawson. “We’re raising leaders who we believe will be instrumental in solving some of society’s most prevalent problems, and our curriculum reflects that.”
While matriculation at a four-year institution of higher learning may not be for everyone, there are those who argue that not having a college degree puts Blacks in a worse position financially than Whites who opt out of advance schooling. The wage gap between Blacks and Whites is worse now than it was nearly 20 years ago – leaving a significant percentage of African Americans living at or below the poverty line.
According to research by the San Francisco Federal Reserve, for every dollar a White man earns, a Black man earns about 70 cents, and Black women earn only 82 cents for every dollar earned by a White woman.
It is important for families to consider the best options for their children. For more information about Yellowstone College Prep as an option, please visit yellowstoneschools.org.