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The Educated Mail Carrier

News flash:  Some people think not everyone should go to college.  Those people include economics and education professors – folks who have their Ph.D.’s, one would assume.  So they should know.

And they have evidence.  The Department of Education (where there’s more fun now) says that only about half of students who enrolled as freshmen in 2006 will graduate within six years.  Only about 20% of students who were in the bottom quarter of their high school classes will eventually get a degree.

So the proposed plan is to steer these kids during their high school years towards short-term vocational training and internships.  Richard K. Vetter, an economist at Ohio University, points to the fact that 15% of mail carriers have bachelor’s degrees.  What a waste!

Unless, of course, you consider the benefits of an education to be a quality of life issue.

I’m all in favor of vocational training.  Kids should have lots of options.  The thing is, vocational training and academic training are not mutually exclusive.  Even Ph.D.’s should be able to change the oil in their car or wire a ceiling fan. 

Letter_Carriers_Dress_for_Succe_1168  What I’m not in favor of is steering kids towards certain careers based on their high school experiences.  It’s all about timing.  For many students, especially boys, 18 is just too young to determine the rest of their lives.

I like the idea of taking both academic and vocation training in high school.  Some kids may decide they want to do masonry or computer graphics right after graduation; others may choose to enroll at a local community college to give themselves more options.  Still others may choose a 4-year school and then decide it’s not for them. The point is, they get to choose.  And we learn something from failure too.

So give me the educated mail carrier.  It’s clean work, well-paid, and comes with benefits.  And while she’s delivering my mail, my carrier can think about a better delivery system, the Bronte sisters, or her grocery list.  Her choice.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.