college not for everyone

College is Great–But Not for Everyone

Dear Mr. Dad: While I appreciate your recent column about the benefits of education, I encourage you to add the option for a career technical education (CTE) degree and/or certificate to possible educational endeavors. Not all students are destined for a four-year degree. Without the burden of substantial debt., large numbers of students can have a full or part-time college experience while preparing for a living-wage and above job. Community College graduates frequently earn substantially more than students with a BA while performing important and critical work. Also, employees with a Community College CTE degree can position themselves for a supervisory or management position.

A: Excellent suggestion. There’s no question that a traditional college education isn’t for everyone. And there’s also no question that two-year community colleges and vocational-technical training programs offer some great alternatives. However, my main point in the article was to give the father information that he could use to encourage his son to finish high school. While I acknowledge that traditional schooling environments aren’t for every child, it’s important to understand that without a diploma or at least a GED or other high school equivalency certificate, their options are severely limited—as are their chances of having a successful career and a long, healthy life. Earning one of those documents is a lot easier to do at 17 or 18 than at 30 or 40.

To start with, as several other readers pointed out, many union apprenticeships—which are often a path to well-paying jobs—are open only to those with a diploma or equivalency. The same goes for joining the military or enrolling in many community colleges and vocational-technical programs, in particular those in fields such as mechanics (repairing everything from cars and air conditioning units to jet engines) and medical fields, where knowledge of technology is essential). One reader, a restaurant owner, said a high school diploma is important even in food service. When she has a choice between a candidate who has a diploma and one who doesn’t, the one with the paper will almost always get the job.

Again, it all comes down to this: Finishing high school is the smart play. While a diploma or equivalency isn’t a guarantee of success, not having one is almost associated with low earnings and poor health outcomes. And one of the major benefits of having a diploma or equivalency is that it allows teens and young adults the option to go do college, should they choose to do so (which I highly encourage).

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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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