Pruden offers an important option

Published 7:39 pm Saturday, April 24, 2010

College. It is among the dreams that most parents have for their children as those children are making their way through elementary and secondary education. And it’s no wonder, considering that study after study shows that, on average, a person’s earning power goes up with the educational level that person attains.

A 2007 study by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education, for instance, found that a college graduate would earn, on average, almost twice as much in a year as someone with only a high school diploma. High school graduates could expect an average salary of $26,894, according to the study, while those holding a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $46,805. For those who go on to earn a graduate or professional degree, the bump in annual salary is even more significant — all the way up to an average of $62,287.

Most parents want to see their children excel and live comfortable lives, and the statistics prove that getting a college education is a good way to help make that happen.

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But realistically speaking, college is not for everyone, and those who are not cut out for the academic rigors of advanced education need all the help they can get to ensure that they, also, can be productive citizens who earn enough money to support themselves and raise families. Furthermore, society needs engineers and doctors and even lawyers, but it also needs skilled construction workers and beauticians and auto mechanics.

That’s where the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology comes into the picture. High school students from all over Suffolk and Isle of Wight County can learn career skills there that will put them well ahead of their peers who plan to enter the workforce right out of high school. By learning a trade or a specialized skill set at the Pruden Center, students position themselves for higher salaries and more responsibility when they enter the workforce.

Whether they will be diagnosing the engine problems in today’s technologically advanced vehicles, designing graphics-rich web pages for the Internet or using heavy equipment to prepare construction sites for high-rise buildings, the students who enter programs at Pruden emerge from the school highly trained and ready for the unique challenges of today’s skilled blue-collar workforce, and their paychecks will reflect that advanced level of training.

College may still be the dream for many parents, but it should be comforting to know that for the 32 percent or so of students that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates will not attend a college or university, there are options that do not lead to minimum wage.