So many times, we seek to explain to teenagers and young adults today, why they should pursue a bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, the explanations fall on deaf ears. Therefore, the question I pose is, “why not pursue a bachelor’s degree?”
During the era of our parents and grandparents, high school graduates easily secured positions at the local steel mill, factory, or coalmine and made a good living. However, today, graduating from high school does not make you distinguishable. Yippee, you have a high school degree just like the millions of other young adults graduating from high school this year. Therefore, if you apply for a job at any company other than the local fast food restaurant or retail establishment, who will notice you?
High School is a place of preparation. Schools are required to provide opportunities equally to each student to further their educational development. While there, you may have been the president of the debate team or a member of student council, showing that you had potential amidst your peers. However, when entering the workforce after high school, you are not on equal footing. Your only peers are other high school graduates without a degree. Millions of graduates before you have higher levels of education, more work related experience and life experience, which again sets them apart.
An employer is under no obligation to provide you with an equal opportunity to secure a position, unless you have the same level of education and work experience as all other applicants. In other words, the concept of affirmative action. Employers are also not obligated to give you equal pay. On average, according to the US Census Bureau, high school graduates make $26,416 per year while their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees make an average of $42,695 per year. What skills do you have to offer a prospective employer? What business acumen do you possess? What benefits can you provide a growing business? How can you compete with other applicants?
While in high school, the typical student has a very structured life. Most students have two maybe three responsibilities. Go to school, complete homework and study, and possibly participate in an extracurricular activity. However, even that is structured. As a new adult, you have no established career pattern or history of exemplary performance that proves to an employer that you are going to be a stellar employee. A gold medal won at the high school track and field event has no merit.
A bachelor’s degree sets you apart from other applicants in today’s workforce. It earns you the right to compete for better jobs and provides you with a diverse set of skills for a lifetime. In the words of an old clich, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”