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Getting ready for college early, part one

The U.S. Department of Education says that a two- or four-year college degree is becoming more and more important for unlocking the doors to economic and educational opportunity in America today. Getting a college education requires a lot of time, effort, and careful planning by parents and students, but will it really provide knowledge and skills students will use for the rest of their lives? Read what the Department of Education has to say, and then post your thoughts on the schooling board!

The Benefits
By going to college, students may:

  • Get (and keep) a better job. Because the world is changing rapidly, and many jobs rely on new technology, more and more jobs require education beyond high school. With a two- or four-year college education, your child will have more jobs from which to choose.
  • Earn more money. On average a person who goes to college earns more than a person who does not. Someone with a two-year associate degree earns more than a high school graduate. In 1995, a man with a college degree earned almost 89 percent more than a man with only a high school diploma, and a woman with a college degree earned almost 73 percent more than a woman with only a high school diploma.
  • Get a good start on life. A college education helps your child acquire a wide range of knowledge in many subjects, as well as advanced knowledge in the specific subjects they are most interested in. College also trains students to express thoughts clearly in speech and in writing, to make informed decisions, and to use technology--useful skills on and off the job.
  • Students who are not interested in going to a four-year college or university or a bachelor's degree can benefit from the skills and knowledge that two years of college provide to compete in today's job market. These students may want to pursue a technical program in a community, junior, or technical college, which provides the skills and experience employers look for. Many high schools and some local employers offer career-focused programs called "Tech-prep," "2+2," "school-to-work,"or "school-to-career," which are linked to community and technical colleges. These programs coordinate high school course work with course work at local colleges, and in some cases give students the chance to learn in a real work setting. This way, the high school material better prepares students for college-level work, and also starts the student on a clear path toward a college degree.
  • Students interested in technical programs will probably want to take some occupational or technical courses in high school, but they also need to take the "core" courses in English, math, science, history, and geography.


What kinds of jobs can you get with a college education?
One of the major benefits of acquiring a college education is having more jobs to choose from. Parents and students should talk about what kind of work interests the student, and find out more about the kind of education that specific jobs require. For instance, some jobs require graduate degrees beyond the traditional four-year degree, such as a medical degree or a law degree. As students mature and learn about different opportunities, they may change their mind several times about the type of job they want to have. Changing your mind is nothing to worry about -- but not planning ahead is.

For more information on the educational requirements of specific jobs, contact a guidance counselor or check the Occupational Outlook Handbook in your library.

Examples of Jobs Requiring College Preparation
Two-Year College (Associate Degree)

  • Computer Technician
  • Surveyor
  • Registered Nurse
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Medical Laboratory
  • Commercial Artist
  • Hotel/Restaurant Manage
  • Engineering Technician
  • Automotive Mechanic
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Plant Operator
  • Heating, Air-Conditioning,
  • Social Worker
  • Refrigeration Technician

Four-Year College (Bachelor's Degree)

  • Teacher
  • Accountant
  • FBI Agent
  • Engineer
  • Journalist
  • Insurance Agent
  • Pharmacist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Dietitian
  • Writer
  • Investment Banker
  • Graphic Designer
  • Zoologist
  • Public Relations

More Than Four Years (Various Graduate Degrees)

  • Lawyer
  • Doctor
  • Architect
  • Scientist
  • University Professor
  • Economist
  • Psychologist
  • Priest or Rabbi
  • Dentist
  • Veterinarian
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Geologist
  • Specialist
  • Management Consultant
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