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News Story
Updated: 05/21/2014 08:00:03AM

Commence with higher education

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As every high school graduate hears repeatedly, “commencement” isn’t the end of something, but the beginning.

Blah, blah? Blah, blah, blah?

It certainly doesn’t seem like a beginning while you’re walking across the stage to pick up your high school diploma. When your parents, sisters and brothers start hooting from the audience — please hold your applause to the end! — and when you fling your mortarboard/Frisbee at your friends a few rows away.

We know “graduation” is the end of something important: That’s why your grandmother gives you a card with a check. But as every graduate learned in English class, commence does indeed mean “to begin.”

So, all blah-blahs aside, let us reiterate the trite and true: This is. The beginning.

The fact is, high school is basic training.

The first lap of a mile race.

The sketch on the canvas of your life.

A single or double. You’ve reached base; now round the bases.

Enough with the English minor metaphors? Then do the math.

We hear an awful lot these days about “income disparity.” That’s the gap between the people who have more money and better jobs and the people who have less money and lousier jobs. In recent decades, the gap has been growing wider. And wider.

One major contributing factor? Higher education.

One recent study from a think tank called the Pew Research Center collected data on the Millennial Generation (people aged 25 to 32) that indicated just how important it was for high school graduates to commence on a path to college or technical school, to pursue a degree beyond high school.

“On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment — from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time — young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education,” the report said.

Every measure.

The study found:

• Millennials working full time in 2012 earned roughly $17,500 per year more than their peers with a high school education only. Repeat: $17,500 a year.

• The median income of Millennials working full-time was $45,500 for college grads and only $28,000 for those with only high school degrees.

• Some 86 percent of Millennials with a bachelor’s degree or better viewed their job as a “career.” Fifty-seven percent of high school-only grads saw their work as “just a job to get by.”

• Fifty-three percent of college grads were “very satisfied” with their current jobs, compared to 37 percent.

To sum it up, more education generally leads to more opportunities, better jobs, higher incomes and more satisfaction. And the difference only increases as you proceed further along the career path.

So congratulations to everyone who has earned a high school degree this year.

Now, commence.

Go to college. Go to technical school. Take college classes part-time. Find a way. Stick with it. Get a secondary degree. It counts for a lot. Give yourself a better opportunity to be on the right side of the incomedisparity gap.


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