It’s officially “back to school” time. The rush is on – new school supplies, dorm needs, uniforms and fashionable fall clothing. Is this what the start of a new school year has been reduced to? Education is so much more!
Education is a key factor in the attainment of economic stability and self-sufficiency. Educational failure has long been linked to higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration. In general, jobs that require high levels of education and skill pay higher wages than jobs that require few skills and little education. Adults who obtain colleges degrees, earn significantly more than those with only a high school diploma. According to some estimates:
If you’re like me, you encounter children in various public places that very loudly express their restlessness, boredom, hunger, or anger. My running joke is that I’m going to offer a presentation on how to properly pack a diaper bag before you take your child to the doctor’s office, church, mall, auto repair shop and generally out in public. Then it all hilariously came back to me – I DID do a presentation on how to pack a diaper bag over 15 years ago!
I posted a status on my social media accounts a few days ago that read, “A degree can’t produce passion, compassion, and integrity.” I received quite a few “Likes”, retweets, and interesting comments. The responses I received made me really think about what that statement means to me and led me to write this blog post.
Let me begin by saying that I am one hundred percent pro education. Education encourages research and critical thinking and opens doors of opportunity. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work to support my theories. At the end of 2011 I came to the firm conclusion that The Teen Toolbox work will focus on improving the quality of life for youth involved in the foster care and child welfare system. Actually, foster care is not really a new path or target population for me. In fact, participation in a holiday drive for a residential facility for teen mothers in foster care during my senior year in high school is what helped solidify my career choice. The other option on the table was education. Yep, I was considering becoming a teacher. (Didn’t I tell you that I am pro education?) My passion for helping others, compassionate personality, and personal integrity led me to pursue higher education and more specifically the field of social work.
Deciding whether or not to attend college after high school and what institution to attend is one of the most important decisions young adults make. Every fall students from high school to college have the opportunity to attend college and career fairs in their local area. Local school systems organize them. College preparatory agencies organize them. Youth development agencies organize them. Congressional leaders organize them. But are they worth the time and preparation? Of course they are. And for more reasons than any of you might think.
I recommend students begin attending college and career fairs as early as 9th grade. I even recommend students who don’t think they want to go to college attend at least one college fair. I recommend students attend so that they not only become familiar with various academic institutions and potential professions but also so that they are knowledgeable about how to represent themselves when they become high school seniors.
Experience is a great teacher. On the job training is a bonus and not a rule in many places of employment and that is the main reason that I highly recommend that all high school and college students complete an internship. Many students who are seeking employment aren’t hired because they lack experience. They are unable to gain experience because no one will hire them. An internship has many short and long-term benefits. I have listed some of them below.
Intern – any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession