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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Students go farther when they have a plan

Connor Opdahl began planning his future in eighth grade, writes David Tobenkin on The 74. Wisconsin requires students to develop an "academic career plan" in middle and high school.

Connor Opdahl in the welding/manufacturing shop at his Wisconsin high school. Photo: Amy Kenyon/Milton High School

While he graduated with a 4.12 GPA, he balks at the cost of a four-year college he views as unnecessary to his career objectives and a likely source of massive debt. He’s also a highly athletic, outdoors kind of guy who does not fancy being chained to a desk.
So this month he starts a nine month technical training program at Blackhawk Technical College to become a utility power lineworker.
The cost: a mere $7,000.
But more importantly, he’ll join a stable profession that pays more than $50,000 per year for new entrants and $78,000 for seasoned professionals with five-years experience.

In high school, Opdahl "participated in job fairs and field trips to learn about trades and completed a youth apprenticeship at a golf course," writes Tobenkin. He evaluated possible careers, toured Blackhawk and took dual-credit courses in senior year to get college requirements out of the way.

He's also started a plumbing apprenticeship in case his lineworker plan doesn't work. Plumbing, he told the reporter, "is another high-income, rock steady career choice."

Twenty-one states now require students to develop an academic career plan, according to reports Advance CTE.

“Implementation of [academic career plans] in Denver Public Schools has led to increased attendance, GPAs, test scores, and graduation rates, and decreases in dropout and behavior challenges,” said Samantha Haviland, the district’s executive director of career development and student supports.

Some districts train students in "time management, personal finance, and professional demeanor," reports Tobenkin. "Students in fifth through 12th grades at Lone Star (Colorado) have been required to participate in 'Adulting 101' — designed to emphasize practical skills from filling out tax forms to fixing a car."

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댓글 4개

2022년 9월 01일

I don't disagree with the headline, but I don't see anything like evidence for it in the article.


2022년 8월 31일

This is the kind of thing that Mike Rowe has been preaching for a long time, and I think it makes a ton of sense.


2022년 8월 31일

This sounds right. Most university degrees have little or no economic value - possible exceptions being STEM fields (to the extent that those departments haven't been corrupted) and of course the extremely valuable degree in any non-technical subject from an Ivy League school which reflects years spent hobnobbing with other children of the Aristocracy.

I stuck with college long enough to get a bachelor's degree, and to see that there was a huge disconnect between academia and real life (in at least one area, I noted that Computer Science decreed that things be done the hard way just because it was easier to analyze than the smart way). By my junior year, I already had a real job ready t…

2022년 8월 31일
답글 상대:

Re the value of STEM: The modern CS department is simply a trade school for big tech. It's not a degree to think about the field, its structure, the important problems in it, etc. They don't teach thinking, they don't teach problem solving in the larger sense. Is a a 30K-80K a year 4 year degree to become an apprentice for big tech a good investment? It isn't necessary. But for now it's still expected.

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