Descriptive Essay on Graduating High School

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Albert Einstein once said, “What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.” These days, a popular idea appears to be that four-year colleges and universities are the only option for high school graduates to find a meaningful career. Some school counselors, teachers, and other educators pressure their students to attend four-year colleges or universities. They seem to be remiss in acknowledging a crucial concept: attending four-year colleges may not be for everyone. Some students have special limitations or no intrinsic interest in post-secondary academics at the college level. Despite society’s favoritism towards young people attending four-year colleges, such individuals should consider that there may be alternatives more suitable to them than attending such colleges directly after high school.

One option for students who would still like to work toward a college degree but have situations impeding them is junior college. Unfortunately, four-year colleges have exorbitantly high tuition, and that is a problem that many young people face. According to the College Board in 2019, the average cost of in-state tuition and room and board for a year at a public four-year college in the United States is $21,950 (“Average Published Charges”). Because tuition expenses are rising faster than the average family income, students who attend these schools must take out student loans at an increasing rate to cover the costs (Owen and Sawhill 322). In contrast, the average cost of tuition and room and board for a junior college is $12,720 (“Average Published Charges”). Junior colleges may not be as prestigious in name, but that should not deter prospective college students from considering these schools as a viable strategy to save themselves money. In the long run, attending junior colleges is much more cost-effective than going to universities directly after high school. Although the cost of schooling is a large obstacle to consider, there are other factors that act as barriers to students attending four-year colleges.

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Another roadblock some high school graduates stumble upon is that their academic history may not be acceptable to four-year colleges. Nevertheless, community colleges generally accept everyone who applies regardless of grade point average or courses completed in high school. As Liz Addison states in her essay “Two Years Are Better Than Four,” community college “unconditionally allows its students to begin” (366). What Addison is saying is that two-year colleges are the perfect starting point for individuals to explore new educational opportunities that they may not have considered before. These schools also offer safe environments for individuals to learn and improve as scholars. In addition, these schools provide programs uniquely catered to the success of students with disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, Riverside City College (RCC) has an organization on campus called “Transitioning Minds” dedicated to assisting formerly incarcerated individuals and other individuals negatively affected by the prison system in gaining meaningful skills, support, and education regardless of educational history (“Transitioning Minds”). RCC also offers “Extended Opportunity Programs and Services” (EOPS) to provide students who have disadvantaged educational or income backgrounds with the resources necessary for their educational success (“EOPS”). The most important part of community colleges is their unique potential to prepare students of all backgrounds for transfer to universities and impart them with skills essential for their success in higher education.

There are some people who graduate high school but do not feel ardent about continuing their education at the college level; one possibility for such individuals is apprenticeship. After high school, society seems to present young people with only two options: attending college or working in a “dead-end” or labor job. Although the public appears to not often advertise them as a choice, apprenticeship programs have the potential to advance members of society with hands-on training. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Alabama believes that the government should be doing more to encourage apprenticeships for not only blue-collar jobs but also other fields such as technology (qtd. in Hackman). In Germany, such a system exists, and Mayor Woodfin is correct in saying that the United States should examine and contemplate a standardized apprenticeship system more seriously. In fact, in Germany, only about two-thirds of people attend college. The remaining third of individuals elect to receive valuable skill sets related to their chosen field of apprenticeship. In the United States, seventy percent of high school graduates enroll in college, but only a scanty thirty-seven percent graduate after eight years (Hackman). Consequently, this is one alternative that would aid non-college graduates in increasing their earnings, so we must regard it thoughtfully.

Besides apprenticeship, vocational school is a feasible program to teach individuals specific trade skills. While there is an abundance of financial aid for traditional college students, our government and society seem to forget students enrolled in trade schools and vocational programs. College students can typically expect to have some type of financial assistance from the government and other programs. College students generally have the ability to take advantage of federal financial aid, tax breaks, useful programs through their schools, and many other programs; the value of all these various forms of assistance is about 150 billion dollars annually (Cass). Meanwhile, technical and vocational programs lack crucial funding to accommodate the recruits participating in them. In contrast with college financial aid, all aggregate monetary assistance offered to individuals in vocational school is only a paltry one billion dollars annually (Cass). This is an egregious inequity and disservice to not only trade school newcomers, but also American society, and we ought to rectify it. Vocational programs are essential and attainable for improving the career prospects of non-college graduates, so the government and high schools should legitimize their merit as substitutes.

There are some people who would even take the idea of supporting apprenticeships and vocational programs even further. In the article “College Isn’t for Everyone” by Oren Cass, he outlines that society seems to believe that “everyone can be a college graduate” but rightly acknowledges that this is not the case. In another article, “Should Everyone Go to College?” by Stephanie Owen and Isabel Sawhill, even though they generally see college as a positive choice, they realize that it would be misguided to invariably prod all high school students into attending college (329). Furthermore, Cass proposes that there is more that the government and high schools can do to better accommodate students who would not be college-bound. For the same amount of money per student that we currently spend in taxes each year, our high schools could instead offer two years of traditional high school, a third-year split between a vocational program and subsidized internship, two more years split between subsidized employment and employer-sponsored training, and a savings account with $25,000 (Cass). This approach is novel and ingenious, and it would certainly better prepare high school students for the workforce in vocational fields without consuming their time on needless college planning. Indeed, our society would be irresponsible if it did not consider ideas like Cass’s to adapt schooling to incorporate more workforce training.

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Descriptive Essay on Graduating High School. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
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