Editor’s Note: College not for you? Try a trade
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is concerned with the number of students who start college, but then drop out. Earlier this week, Duncan said the country needs to focus on improving graduation rates. And there is room for improvement: about half of students who begin college don’t graduate. Michigan’s graduation rate of 55 percent is in line with the national average.
While it’s true an increasing number of jobs require some form of higher education, that doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree. Plenty of good-paying jobs require a two-year degree or some other form of certification and training. Making young people believe their only option is attending a traditional university will keep the dropout rate high and saddle these students with debt without the benefits of a degree.
The reality is that not every student is cut out for college. And many jobs in the skilled trades go unfilled because businesses can’t find workers with the expertise. In Michigan, 93,000 jobs remain open — many of which are in the trades. To address this shortage, Michigan has formed the Talent Investment Agency, to encourage middle and high school students to consider some of these careers.
This is a better approach than trying to force all students into the same mold.