Late spring is graduation season across America, including high schools, colleges, vocational colleges, and military academies. As a direct result, a sudden rush of job seekers annually pours into the labor market. While competition every year is intense, 2019 is shaping up to be one the best years in history for graduating job applicants. There are, quite literally, more jobs available than applicants to fill them.
Many of today’s graduates are, like “Uncle Eddie” in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “holding out for a management position.” Graduates too often believe that everything they need to know is reflected in the diploma they received for completing the required curriculum. They are too often wrong.
Even the most diligent among the graduating masses may not be prepared for the “big jobs” they seek. College doesn’t prepare students for that job; it only prepares them to begin a career. Even the professions, including medicine and law, will not produce outstanding practitioners right out of college. Many, in fact, need several more years of study, only then to become someone’s understudy while their skills are honed.
Offering advice to recent graduates is likely an exercise in futility, as many have not yet learned how, when, and why to listen. Science has recently shown that the human brain is not fully developed until ages 26 to 28. Complex decision making is a skill developed over time and with experience.
How many times have we all mused, “If only I had known then what I know now?” Success in 21st Century America is dependent on what you actually know, how hard you work, and how artfully you utilize everything you learn. The college education dilemma will get more and more complicated. Rethinking post-high school education is a must for young people today. There are many ways to quality for success and a happy life.
These days we are having a great national debate, not just on younger voting, but on the value vs. cost of higher education. Educational debt now exceeds credit card debt, and consumes such a large portion of the income of recent graduates that lifestyle decisions are being postponed. This helps no one.
Not everything you need to know will be taught in school. Formal education is, in fact, a small, but important step in a successful life. Enjoy the ride, make some mistakes, but most of all find and seize an opportunity to begin your real education. Life.
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