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Change the Life of One Person

April 19, 2010

Choiceortunity #51

Your Mission…Should you Choose to Accept it:

Change the life of ONE person

So I read.  I read a lot of stuff about education and the employment market and came across an article recently that both scared and excited me.  It excited me because the future is really bright for our Herzing graduates; the job market over the ten years and beyond is going to be booming (Amy does the employment dance).  But scary because there won’t be enough educated persons making up this future workforce to meet the demand.  The opportunities for GREAT employment will be there, but the qualified worker will not.  I don’t want to bore you but here are some stats and information from the article.

For years, the United States has led the world in the percentage of adults possessing a college degree. This leadership has propelled the national economy to unprecedented levels, harnessing knowledge to drive innovation and improve social mobility. But the nation’s competitive advantage is slipping away:

  • According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States now ranks tenth among industrialized nations in the percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with an Associate’s degree or higher, and stands as one of the only nations where older adults are more educated than younger adults.
  • OECD data also show that the United States ranks near the bottom of industrialized nations in the percentage of entering students that complete a degree program.
  • According to the U.S. Census, disparities in educational attainment persist across racial and ethnic groups, even as the nation’s population becomes more diverse. Today, 42 percent of whites ages 25-64 have an Associate’s degree or higher, compared with 26 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of Hispanics.

Looking ahead, the United States will have to ramp up just to keep up when it comes to degree production. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) estimates that the nation will produce approximately 48 million new undergraduate degrees between 2005 and 2025, assuming no significant change in degree completion patterns. According to this analysis, the United States needs to produce approximately 64 million additional degrees over this period to match leading nations in the percentage of adults with a college degree (estimated at 55 percent) and to meet domestic workforce needs – a gap of 16 million degrees. Because demographic trends point toward substantial growth in populations historically underserved in higher education – African Americans and Hispanics in particular – this looming degree gap cannot be filled without a strong commitment to erasing racial and ethnic disparities in educational attainment. NCHEMS estimates that increasing the percentage of adults with college degrees among African Americans and Hispanics to that of whites would produce more than half of the degrees needed to fill the projected gap.
Key indicators show that states must focus on sealing leaks in the educational pipeline to increase the share of the population that has a college degree:

  • In more than half the states (29), the four-year graduation rate for public high schools is below 75 percent.
  • In 10 states, fewer than half of the high school graduates enroll in postsecondary education within one year, which reduces the likelihood of enrollment, persistence, and completion.

You can see why this is scary.  There is so much opportunity in the future for those who start planning and working towards that end goal right now.  You, as a Herzing student, are already on the right track; you are enrolled into school and on a career track for a field that is in demand and growing.  I challenge you to ask yourself, who do you know that isn’t?  Each of us knows that really bright person that could do or be just about anything but they are held back because of their lack of education.  Each of us knows that middle school aged young adult that thinks school is for nerds and wants nothing to do with college.  Each of us knows that person who started school maybe once, twice or more and never completed because they didn’t have the support they needed, the timing was bad or (insert other excuse here).   Some of us have been that person (Amy raises hand).

Your Mission…Should you Choose to Accept it.

Adopt that person.  Mentor them.  Encourage them.

Be the example for them to follow.

I encourage each of you to seek out that one person and change their lives by being the driving force behind their decision to go to college.  Trust me when I say they will come back to you years from now and thank you.  They will appreciate the door you’ve opened and the opportunity to be on the positive side of an employment statistic.  It’s an easy conversation to get started.  Just say, “Hey, have you given any thought to college?” and then tell them a little about your experience thus far.  If they let you know what they are interested in, help explore their options but most of all give them good old fashion support.  Remember how scary starting school was?  Helping to eliminate fear is half the battle.

Human beings are pretty amazing creatures.   Once we find our willpower inside of us, the spark of passion, we can do most anything we set our minds to.  Each one of us is capable of great things and substantial contributions to the world we live in.  Sometimes it just takes one person believing in us to ignite that flame.  Who do you believe in?


PS. I believe in you!

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