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Jami Lund Commentary: Advice for high school students near graduation

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Jami Lund

As an education fan, I often have the opportunity to advise young people on educational options. As an educator, I have taken these opportunities seriously and pondered the questions.

I know enough about formal education, so I wouldn’t recommend college as a magic lamp to fulfill my wishes. it’s not. Often, those who spend a lot of time, work, and money on non-university types of self-improvement are just as wealthy.

If a college degree receives the usual 4.3-year loss of income and $ 152,000, the person will buy a home and learn the skills and trade to earn a living, while earning a modest income for one season. You can live. Similarly, a similar investment in time and resources could launch a company that can also offer autonomy and a return on profits.

Do college graduates usually earn $ 22,000 more than high school graduates? yes. Do college graduates often work for companies that are mentally stimulating, healthy, and likely to be indoors? yes.

However, it is also true that more than half of college graduates have an average of $ 28,400 in debt, have lost four to five years of training their minds in unused ways, and have jobs that do not require a degree. This result is more likely for those who have not made a thoughtful decision about how meaningful it is.

One of the secrets of the higher education industry is that not all degrees are created equally. One in five people with a degree in “Arts and Letters” or the social sciences work in the commercial, hospitality, or service industries five years after graduation. These are statistics for those who have graduated. One in three people who drop out has worse results.

Graduates with a degree aimed at health-related or specific pursuits are much more likely to work in their field of study. Unfortunately, more than half of college graduates choose arts, letters, or social sciences as their research course.

Young people considering such an expensive degree should do what they do when choosing shoes — try it first. Pretend that you already have the degree you want and use it to find a job. How many jobs do you have? where are they? What do you pay for? What are the other requirements associated with that degree?

The real question for young people thinking about their future path is, “What do you think you bring value to the world?” What can you be willing to do with what others care about? In a free market economy, this is the safest way to a productive livelihood.

I ask young people to think about which of the four broad categories of value matches their abilities and interests: words, numbers, art or skills? As a young person, certain professions can be unclear, but an honest assessment of general direction is important for life planning.

In most cases, post-high school training or education is required for livelihood. High school seeks to raise graduates to the lowest general expectations. However, to get the most out of the school, students need to take their own educational reins and deliberately start learning by the 10th grade.

For example, about half of high school graduates enrolled in community colleges will have to reacquire high school content while paying tuition. If a young person knows that his or her career includes a college, taking the appropriate courses and pre-university tests can help smooth that career. Similarly, anyone who knows that physical skills are central to their livelihood should take advantage of all available high school fitness and health opportunities. Not because someone needs it, but because it’s part of your life plan.

The most important element of life preparation is to do it intentionally. It is dangerous and potentially soul-breaking to accidentally trip over your future. Choice, planning and execution are the essence of maturity and have nothing to do with age.


Jami Lund lives in the Big Hannaford Valley, where he keeps bees, speaks on the radio, and generally works to move the world from what it should be to what it should be. Contact him at