GRCA Commerce Quarterly Summer 2019 - 16

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Is college the answer for all?
By Stacy Dunleavy, Career Ready Berks administrator, Berks County Intermediate Unit

A

lthough college has prepared me for
the workforce and prompted my many
successes within it, I tasked myself with
answering the question, "Is a traditional four-year
college program the only path a young person can
take to create a successful life?" The experience I
have working in education and career readiness
over the past few years led me to the answer I and
many students have been looking for: No!

The focus of educators and parents for the
past few generations has been to prepare and
direct students into higher education. For some
students, there is dedication in high school for top
GPAs, SAT scores and high-profile applications
to make it into top tier schools. What students
and educators are forgetting is the current $1.5
trillion debt that Americans currently have, which
is increasing daily. There are also around 3,000
people who must default on their student loan
debt every day due to lack of finances. The Strada
Education Network reported that 34% of current
college students believe they will graduate college
with the skills and knowledge to be successful in
the workplace. With statistics that low, the goal
of college needs to be adjusted to allow students
to attend to graduate, get a job and further their
passions, not follow the "college for all" formula.
If society continues to adhere to the current status
quo, the future of our children is not as bright.
The path to success begins with a plan. When
working with young children, the structure needs
to be on goal setting and creating pathways
towards those goals rather than idealizing college.
Career exploration will manifest within the goal setting stage where
some students may realize that attending a four-year institution is
required while others are just beginning to explore and embrace
the ideals of the workforce. While career exploration is not about
limiting a student's choice on their future, it is about displaying and
expanding the vast amount of opportunities that are available to
them in a post-graduation society. The goal as educators is to create
and implement effective ways to allow our students to explore all
the opportunities available to them.
Learning through experience is a valuable tool for students
of this generation. When discussing future possibilities, provide
children with the opportunities to experience the career options
available to them. As parents and children interact with members
of their community, discussing the various employees and their
16 COMMERCE QUARTERLY SUMMER 2019

responsibilities with the child so that as they age,
they will begin to associate their interests with
potential career pathways. Regardless of their
skills, make these associations and challenge
the students to find a potential career that will
connect them with their passions.
As students transition through their middle
and high school years, experimenting with
various possible career pathways through job
shadowing and internships is a crucial time
frame. Parents can work with the child's school
to set up these experiences though Career Ready
Berks, https://careerreadyberks.org, an online
business engagement platform designed to bring
school and businesses together to provide career
experiences for students. Through this platform,
the students have the opportunity to explore in
a hands-on manner which careers are the best fit
for them in the future.
During this time frame, it is also crucial for
students to begin discussing the various paths
of their future and the steps they will need to
take to reach the goals they have for themselves.
Currently, there are many high-priority careers
available within Berks County that do not
require a four-year degree, and this opportunity
will continue into the future. As students
approach this age, it is important for them to
investigate all options to ensure they are making
informed decisions about which pathway they
want to take. To make an educated decision,
students need to know where to get the proper
training needed to reach their goal, to consider
apprenticeships, certification programs and on the job training as it
relates to their chosen profession. Looking into programs as offered
at the Career and Technical Centers is essential as they provide
hands-on experience in the field in addition to earning valuable
credentials. Reading Area Community College, for example, offers
many certification programs in high priority occupations within
the county and it maintains a wealth of information for families on
the various career paths that they offer.
As educators, parents, and administrators it is our role to assist
and guide these students to making appropriate life decisions,
which best fit their lives and the needs of Berks County. I believe
Career Ready Berks and the school districts in Berks County can
make this a reality.


https://www.careerreadyberks.org

GRCA Commerce Quarterly Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRCA Commerce Quarterly Summer 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GRCA_CommerceQuarterly_Winter2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Summer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly/GreaterReadingChamber_CommerceQuarterly_Spring2017
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