So I am graduating high school, what now? Part 2

Factors for young people to consider when choosing a career: postsecondary education options and benefits.

This is the second in a series of articles to help youth answer the question “so I am graduating from high school, what now?” As indicated in part one of the series, 65 percent of all jobs will require education beyond high school by the year 2020. In addition, those with postsecondary education are more likely to be employed and will have a higher earning potential – have you considered postsecondary education as part of your post-graduation plans?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupations typically requiring postsecondary education for entry generally had higher median wages ($57,770) in 2012, compared to a median wage of $27,670 for occupations that required a high school diploma or less to enter. In addition, the BLS projects that between 2012 and 2022, occupations that require postsecondary education will grow faster (at a rate of 14 percent), than occupations that typically require a high school diploma or less (at a rate of 9.1 percent).

There are many postsecondary education options after high school where youth can earn various certificates and degrees. Knowing which postsecondary option is right for you depends on your career choice. The National 4-H curriculum Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers, written by Michigan State University Extension, has activities to help you explore the following postsecondary education options:

  • Apprenticeship: These programs typically combine on-the-job training with some study. They are often found in technical and trade occupations.
  • Certificate and diploma: These programs typically take a year or less to complete and generally require three to 12 classes. They are often awarded at technical or vocational schools after completing training for a specific career.
  • Associate degree: These programs typically take two years to complete and are generally at least 60 semester credits. This equates to about 20 college classes.
  • Bachelor’s degree: These programs typically take four years to complete and generally require 120 semester credits. This equates to approximately 40 college courses.
  • Master’s degree: These programs typically take one to two years to complete beyond the bachelor’s degree and generally require 32 to 54 semester credits. This equates to 12 to 18 college courses.
  • Doctorate degree: These programs typically take four years to complete post-bachelor's degree and generally require 90 to 120 semester credits. This equates to 30 to 40 college courses.

Historically, any training after high school was considered postsecondary. Now, thanks to the “dual enrollment acts,” students are encouraged and enabled to begin their postsecondary training while still in high school. Dual enrollment acts allow high school students to take up to ten courses at eligible postsecondary institutions within Michigan. Consider saving money and time, as well as kick starting your career training, by talking with your school about dual enrollment options.

For additional trainings, articles and resources to help youth prepare for their career, check out the MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development websites.

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