Is college for me?

How much do college grads make compared to those with just a high school education? How many college grads are unemployed compared to others?

As our kids grow up, they’ll inevitably face the question, “Is college for me?” As a caring adult, we can give them good information to help them make an informed decision… and the answer to these question might be eye-opening for them.

Today I was writing our next Youth Culture Window article (to be posted in a couple weekends) about our kids being financially prepared to move out on their own, aptly titled, “Less Likely To Leave the Nest: Why your 20-something might opt to live in your basement.” As I was pouring through all the research about how expensive education has become, and how much our kids are racking up in school loans, I became distracted by a little rabbit trail contrasting the incomes of someone with a bachelors degree to that of someone with only a high school diploma. That disparity has grown immense in the last decade!

Pew Research embarked on a study a few years back which not only compares today’s young people to past generations, it also revealed the increasing gap between young adults with and without a college degree. Here’s a peek at their findings:

Similarly, in 2015 the Bureau of Labor Statistics posted their findings, disclosing a huge gap between incomes when you compare current educational attainment. For example, a person with a bachelors degree makes an average of $1,980 more per month than the someone with just a high school diploma. They also provided a helpful chart, including how higher degrees decrease the chance of unemployment:

Use reports like these to engage your kids in discussion about their future. Not every kid is college bound, but I know as I look back at my own parenting, I wish I would have had more discussions like this, and less lectures.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Is college for me?

  1. Phil says:

    A MAJOR missing piece to post-high school planning is skilled laborers. Our culture has over emphasized college and, in some ways, treat skilled laborers as less educated or important.

    Career development, trade schools, and apprenticeships are essential for electricians, carpenters, mechanics, etc.

    A friend of mine in the Dallas area who works in economic development shared this with me about the shortage of skilled laborers. This should be in the discussion as well when we discuss “training/preparing” for your future.