The College Path Is Not the Only One

By Trey Ferguson

Not everyone needs a college degree.

This is a tough pill for most of us to swallow, due to the educational path we have chosen, but the truth of the matter is our society needs a diverse group of individuals in every aspect to properly run.

During the election, Gov. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) was criticized for not putting enough emphasis on education -- his major issue was job creation, after all. His first signed piece of legislation aims to kill these two birds with one stone.

By placing more focus on career and technical education, North Carolina will be able to aid those with the means to go into higher education as well as those who choose a different path.

It's hard for many of us to imagine the idea of being pushed into the workforce directly after high school. However,this is a very real concern for many of our state's high school graduates.

These vocational programs give students who are unable to pursue a college education (or who choose not to) an opportunity to learn a skill, have a career, provide for their families, contribute to their community and become productive citizens. They provide students with skills, skills that our society needs to function.

For example, Allied Health programs train high school students to become CNAs by the time they graduate. With North Carolina's increasing retirement population, these jobs are needed to take care of our elderly.

North Carolina is currently in its sixth year with more than 80 percent of high school students graduating in four years. A contributing factor to this major accomplishment is the fact that these programs engage students in their academic coursework that would otherwise be apathetic toward their education.

These students leave high school with the hope of a career, a skill that they can fall back on. It is both naïve and unfair to think that the only path to success is the one many of us have taken. In some cases, these students will be making more than the average first-year college graduate.

Many critics argue Gov. McCrory's first piece of legislation takes away from society's value on higher education and places too much emphasis on trade jobs. I have news for them; our society could not function without these jobs.

A college degree is not required to be successful in life.

They must also look at the impact these classes have on college preparation. Students who hope to go to a four-year university go through these programs and discover what field they want to pursue in their higher education. I guarantee nearly every agricultural major here at N.C. State took an agricultural class in high school.

State funding that goes to universities only directly benefits those of us who attend a university. However, funding that goes to public schools will benefit all North Carolinians.

It's easy to shrug off these programs as devaluing education, but they're actually helping to fuel it.