Dean’s Desk: What’s Next for Today’s High School Graduates?
High schools around Georgia are in the midst of graduation season. In fact, many Cobb County high schools hold their graduation ceremonies right here at Kennesaw State. We are willing hosts, with the hopes that many of these rising collegiate students will stay close to home for college. My son, a senior at Lassiter High School, is one of them.
There are approximately 140,000 high school seniors in Georgia, In 2018, the statewide high school graduation rate was 81.6% (up from a troubling 69.7% in 2012), meaning there will be about 110,000 mailboxes with balloons tied to them over the next week or two.
According to the most recent US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2017 there were almost 7 million people aged 25 and older. Of these people, 30% have earned a bachelor’s or higher degree. Another 50% or so graduated from high school, took some college classes, or earned an associate’s degree. Nearly 15% of our population did not complete high school.
As an academic, my sincere hope is that every one of those high school graduates becomes a college graduate. A bachelor’s degree is a tremendous asset, and a key ingredient in a healthy, prosperous life. The collegiate experience provides a safe space where young people can grow as individuals even while they match their passions to their educations.
This is true even if a young person does not have a clear, certain career aspiration. In my mind, what a person studies is less important than that they go through the process. Ask most people who graduated at least 10 years ago what they learned in any particular class, and they almost certainly won’t remember. Earning a bachelor’s degree, most importantly, demonstrates that you can persist through a rigorous program of study with the discipline required to get it done. College graduates have proved they have the grit to see things through. By the way, there is still time to apply to Kennesaw State!
As a realist, the census numbers tell me that most of the class of 2019 will not complete college. That does not mean anything except they are choosing a different path. Google a list of successful people who don’t have a college degree, or simply read The Millionaire Next Door, for proof.
For this year’s high school graduates who are looking for something other than a bachelor’s program, we’d love to have you in a career-enabling certificate program at KSU’s College of Professional Education. You can still be an Owl!