The current crisis thus yields another cautionary tale about the perils of entering the workforce with nothing but a high school diploma. But does it also mean that everyone needs a four-year college degree? That those of us involved in K–12 education should tell all our young charges they would be wise to go “to and through” college? And that we should build our high schools around that singular mission?
The answer, of course, is no. In the real world, young people need not make a binary choice between four-year college or no college. In between are multiple options, including all manner of industry credentials, certificates, and two-year degrees, any of which may provide buffering—economic and otherwise—against hardship during troubled times and open various career doors during better times.
… the damage inflicted on the job market since February has highlighted a widening line of inequality based on education. In a nation in which a majority of workers lack a degree, college graduates are far more likely to be inoculated from the pain.
In May, the overall unemployment rate was 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April. For workers with only a high school diploma, the jobless rate was 15.3%. For college graduates, it was just 7.4%.
Fewer than half of high school graduates are now working. Two-thirds of college graduates are.
Only 20% of high school-only graduates are working from home and can minimize outside contact, according to a Federal Reserve survey. By contrast, 63% of college graduates have been able to continue working their jobs safely at home.
The Census Bureau reported this week that 51% of high school graduates had lost work income because of the outbreak, compared with 39% of college graduates.