There are many paths to a successful career, and a happy life, in addition to a four year degree. We need to remove the stigma associated with these options, and focus on career readiness as much as college readiness. As a member of the generation carrying a massive amount of student loan debt, and carrying a fair share of that myself, I do not want to see another generation saddled with financial obligations placed on them when it’s not necessary. Financial obligations that will follow them well beyond walking across the stage.

FCPS can do a better job promoting all available options for post-high school paths that run parallel to the typical four year institutions. In many instances, professional certifications and professional trades offer significantly better career prospects and salaries than jobs requiring a four year degree. Students should know these options, and in school counselors should help navigate them. The focus needs to be on how to best position a student to be successful in their career, not on boosting college admission ratings. Job placement needs to be the metric that is tracked.