(Ellie Haga is FLOC’s Executive Assistant and Development Associate.)
In President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address he said, “Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree”
He goes on to say “the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American.”
With the growing importance of innovation and launching the U.S. back into the top spot of research, science, and technology, it becomes more critical for future generations to see education as of the utmost importance. DC Public Schools had a graduation rate of 75 percent in the 2009 school year, but at FLOC, in the past four years, 100 percent of our high school seniors have graduated and gone on to pursue a post-secondary degree.
We are in an era where at least some college education is required for almost every job and necessary for increased earnings and stability in the workforce. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” reveals that adults with a high school degree can expect on average to earn $1.2 million over their working life, while those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million, and a master’s degree $2.5 million.
In today’s unstable economy, those who possess a college degree are also less likely to be unemployed. The U.S. Department of Labor recently released their December 2010 unemployment numbers. Those who have less than a high school diploma are three times more likely to be unemployed than those with a bachelors or higher degree (15.3 percent to 4.8 percent).
I think it’s safe to say that a post-secondary degree (whether traditional or vocational) is necessary in today’s workforce. At FLOC, many of our students will be the first in their families to attend college, so it’s even more important to instill a college-going mindset. Our staff is helping to do this every day, and because of this, I’m confident that FLOC students will be leaders of the next generation and will have more opportunities available to them because they chose to pursue a post-secondary degree.