Superintendent’s Report: Post-secondary decisions

An emphasis of the vision for Kansas’ schools and USD No. 113 schools will continue to be Individual Plans of Study (IPS) for the next school year. Students begin building these plans in middle school as they learn about their own interests and strengths.  Work on the IPS also involves exploration of careers and post-secondary education requirements. USD 113’s teachers will continue to work with students to learn about careers and develop an action plan to accomplish individual career goals.   

When considering potential careers, it is important for students to explore the employability and educational demand of future jobs. Education cost, earnings potential and geographical employment opportunities are all important considerations.

Having a plan for how students will finance their post-secondary education goals is also important. Many students borrow to pay for schooling. Experian.com reports that the average student loan debt in Kansas increased 6.2 percent, from $29,409 to $31,239 in the past year.

US News and World Report noted that in 2017, 2/3 of college students graduated with debt. For these students, the average debt is $29,938.

Earnings potential for various levels of education must be considered when evaluating the feasibility of incurring debt:

Information from the National Center for Educational Statistics (for 25 – 34 year olds in 2017):

• Average earning for an individual with a Bachelor’s Degree: $50,000

• Average earning for an individual with an Associate’s Degree: $38,900

• Average earning for an individual with a High School Diploma: $31,800

• Average earning for an individual without a High School Diploma: $25,400

The gap between earnings of those with a high school diploma and post-secondary education is expected to grow.

A highly regarded Georgetown University study asserts that the education demand for jobs in Kansas in 2020 will require the following education:

• 11 percent, Master’s Degree

• 25 percent, Bachelor’s Degree

• 35 percent, Associate’s Degree

• 29 percent, High School Diploma or less

The data is conclusive that post-secondary education is very important for most students to earn a middle-class wage. Within the options available an Associate’s Degree is very appealing. Low student debt, high earnings potential and employment opportunities in Northeast Kansas are all desirable. It is important for our parents, teachers and community members to provide support to students seeking an Associate’s Degree or trade certificate, as much as we do those pursuing a traditional Bachelor’s Degree.

Another opportunity that should be supported is for students to enlist in the military. Not only do students have an opportunity for service to the United States, they learn important career skills. There is also financial assistance with furthering an education through the GI Bill. This increases the appeal of the military as a vocation or as an important career step.

Student debt is a reality for our young people as they begin their careers. Hopefully, through Individual Plans of Study, we can help students research and plan for the financial demands of post-secondary education. We also can help students explore technical careers or the military as options that can provide for low student debt, high earnings potential and careers within our own communities.

Todd Evans27 Posts

Todd Evans currently serves as Superintendent of Prairie Hills USD No. 113 in Kansas. USD No. 113 operates Pre-K through 12 schools in the communities of Sabetha, Wetmore and Axtell.

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