The Trend for More and More Education
Education has gone a long way toward being a more intensive and more time-consuming part of a young person’s life. Today’s job market is unrelenting in its requirements. The highly competitive nature of the current workforce means that anyone who does not have ideal credentials could be left behind. While there is no shame in working a lower wage job, the difference in income between a well-educated person and an under-educated person can be a bigger issue than any other element of financial planning.
This was not always the case. Historically, young people did not necessarily need very much schooling. When the public school systems were designed to train people for the workforce at a young age, a person could be competently trained for more menial tasks by eighth grade. Entrance exams restricted high school entrance to about 5% of the U.S. population in 1910, so the remaining 95% did not have high school educations. Before World War II, schooling was short and concentrated because it was all about preparing children for the adult world as quickly as humanly possible. Even many professional positions such as law and medicine in the early 20th century were composed of course work that could be completed in a couple of years, and in some cases the preparation for such studies was only the basic skills of literacy and the ability to reckon numbers. Only the most privileged or gifted children had access to a higher level of education.
Changes between then and now have been extreme. As time has gone on, the level of practical training received in school at most levels has reduced considerably. Simply put, every year of education has become more of a preparation for the next, and high school has become the bare minimum to do almost anything in the workforce. By around the 1980s, the high school diploma was a crucial component of being able to do just about anything in the employment world; no high school diploma made finding employment very difficult.
Since that time the competition for jobs has increased. While there was a time when hardly anyone had gone to college, today the numbers of both college attendees and college graduates have grown tremendously. While having a degree is by no means a guarantee of employment or success, for a time a bachelor’s degree was a substantial leg up in the workforce. However, nowadays even that is beginning to be eclipsed by more advanced levels of training. The master’s degree, doctorate, and even some advanced certifications are becoming very useful additions to the successful young person’s resume. In time, they may become just shy of mandatory to be taken seriously in the professional world.
There are similar trends in trade school education. Employers now select employees who have earned special technical training after high school. Years ago, the same jobs would have been filled by high school graduates who had taken shop class. Clearly, there is a trend toward higher education in most fields. Expect to have to finance education beyond high school for any career path. Parents and career changers should be aware that employer expectations for education are always changing and typically have become tougher to meet.
With more education comes higher costs, and increasingly students are seeing the burdens of their education well into their working years. This is why beginning to save for your child’s education begins with saving for college and continues with saving for an advanced degree. While your child may not use these additional savings, having them available opens up more options that can lead to a more fulfilling and higher paying career.
Beyond High School
Educational requirements have steadily risen over roughly the past century. As the demands of the professional world have grown, the old-fashioned need for only the most basic type of education has been replaced by the need for increasingly lengthy amounts of schooling. While there was a time when an eighth grade education or less could get you a large number of types of jobs, those days are long in the past. Nowadays, getting most kinds of jobs with less than a high school diploma is all but impossible, and more jobs than ever require either a professional certification of some sort of a college degree.
The overwhelming likelihood is that your child is going to need some sort of higher education. Since most people have to take on some kind of profession, your child is probably going to need to get an education beyond high school if he or she is going to succeed later in life. The level of success that is associated with a high school or college bachelor’s degree has decreased over the years because there has been a steady increase in the number of people who have attended and are attending college. To get an edge in the job market, many students are enrolling in more education programs or are enrolling in more specialized educational programs. This is a trend that is driving growing demand for higher education.
The trend toward more higher education has caused colleges and trade schools to become very popular. Like anything that is popular, they have become very expensive. The costs of college continue to rise at a level that dwarfs the inflation rate for almost everything else, and they are likely to increase further based on growing demand. Because of this increase in costs, the average person has to work increasingly harder to pay for higher education without resorting to a crushing burden of debt.
Other than building up your retirement savings, saving for your child’s higher education costs is one of the most important financial commitments you can make. This extends from the first time you set up an account for your child through when you decide how to allocate the funds and begin automatically putting away something every so often until your child gets accepted to a good school and finally has a constructive use for the money you’ve saved. Every step of the way your financial decisions will be important for both financial reasons and as an example to your child.