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News Story
Updated: 05/29/2014 08:00:01AM

Commence with higher education

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As Lake Placid High School graduates are certain to hear Saturday, “commencement” isn’t the end of something, but the beginning.

It won’t seem that way when graduates walk across the stage at South Florida State College to pick up that coveted high school diploma. When parents, sisters and brothers start hooting from the audience — Please hold your applause to the end! — and when grads fling those mortarboards into the air.

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 means “to begin.” Commencement is the beginning of something ­— it is the beginning of the rest of adult life. It’s the start of a transition to adult responsibilities.

Let us reiterate the trite and the true: 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 to figure out how to score.

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

We’ve heard an awful lot lately about “income disparity” in this country. That’s the gap between the people who have more money and better jobs and the people who have less money and lousier jobs. Recent decades have seen the gap grow wider. And wider.

One recent study from a think tank called the Pew Research Center collected data on the Millennial Generation (your older brothers and sisters, aged 25 to 32) that showed how important it is for high school graduates to commence on a path to college or technical school.

“On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment — from personal earnings to job satisfaction — young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education,” the report said. The results of that study come as no surprise. Higher education brings higher rewards.

The study found:

• millennials with a college education and 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 the years of your life pass.

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. Give yourself a better opportunity to be on the right side of the income-disparity gap.

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