College may not be for every student

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Moving Forward/Keith Davis, superintendent BCPS

By Keith Davis

 College For Everyone?  The Answer is No.

Bullitt County Public Schools is completely committed to preparing every student to be able to reach their highest potential in life. 

Our most fervent wish is that every single student that starts kindergarten graduates from 12th grade fully prepared to enter and succeed at a four year university.  

I certainly hope that this is the wish of every parent and community member in Bullitt County.  Please notice that I said that every student should be prepared. 

That does not mean that every student should or will want to go to a four year university. 

Many - in fact, most - people will not decide that this is the best, most fulfilling path for them.  However, if every student is prepared, then no doors are closed. 

A young graduate can then choose to frame houses because it makes him happy to work outdoors and because he is good at it, rather than because he can’t get into college. 

Another student may want to cut hair, drive a truck or a train, or sell shoes or cars; the country will not run without people doing these jobs and countless others.  Together, we all make the community and any honest job done well deserves equal respect.  

Going to a private or exclusive university can be very expensive.  

There is story after story about the amount of debt some college graduates accumulate and then cannot find a job that pays enough to repay the debt.  It seems obvious to me that some of these people may be smart enough to get into a university, but aren’t smart enough to make good economic choices. 

If one borrows money to go to an expensive school to major in something that does not pay well, it seems a recipe for financial disaster.  However, we have excellent educational choices available for those who want a college degree at a reasonable cost. 

Our community colleges and state universities are not cheap, but they are an excellent, excellent investment. 

In my opinion, students shouldn’t be terribly afraid of a little student loan debt any more than they should be afraid of a home mortgage. 

Studies show that for most people, an investment in one’s education pays a greater dividend than anything else in long-term earnings and career satisfaction.

If the university or 4-year college is not the option of choice, there are a multitude of technical schools and community college programs where people can earn certificates and associates degrees that can prepare them for a job that will put them solidly in the middle class in terms of wages earned. 

Further, when one earns such a certificate and starts working, they often find their passion and wish to extend their education and grow in their careers.  This is a viable and honorable option.  

There are also excellent opportunities available through our armed forces, especially those who score well on the ASVAB test. 

The skills training and discipline provided by the military have changed the lives of millions of Americans, all while earning the volunteer service member deserved respect for serving our country.

You may be thinking:  This is strange; the school superintendent is encouraging kids not to go to college. 

That is NOT what I am trying to communicate.  We need more people in Bullitt County with bachelor’s degrees or higher - a lot more - in order to be competitive with other counties and states in attracting high wage jobs. 

What I am saying is that this is a free country, and if - after they carefully weigh the costs and benefits - any of my sons decide he wants to be an engineer, or a soldier, or a musician, or a welder, then as long as he can get a job that means he is not dependent on me for his food and shelter and will allow him to contribute to his community, then great.   

The one thing that would not be great is to stop learning once he gets his high school diploma.  That is no more economically acceptable today than dropping out after 6th grade was 30 years ago. 

Whatever path a young adult high school graduate chooses to take, we will only have done our job as a school system, as parents, and as a community if that path includes a viable plan for continued education and learning.

Keeping open as many doors as possible is the key to making reasonable choices. 

Please encourage your kids and your neighbors’ kids to work hard, make good decisions, and keep their future options wide open. 

Getting our children ready for college or a career is what we are all working toward in Bullitt County Schools. 

We can use all the help we can get to make that happen.