First Posted: 1/15/2009
For the 12 years that the almost 1,100 students had worked and studied to receive their diplomas signifying for them the end of their public education, June 9 was the date on which they reached that goal.
With that excitement over, the question becomes, “What Now?”
While today's world is quite different from the one their parents faced at this point in their lives, the fact is that education is of even greater importance for today's graduates than it was for their parents. So, while about 75 percent of today's graduates will continue their education immediately at a two- or four-year institution, the remaining 25 percent will seek out other ways of continuing it.
Actually, if attending college was their choice, the decision had probably been made much earlier because certain courses required for college acceptance would have had to have been taken early in their high school careers.
It is hoped that the grades they received in those courses were good enough to qualify them for acceptance in the college of their choice.
Regardless of whether or not they choose to attend college, these graduates should realize the importance of education as a continuing process that will expand on what they learned in our schools. Entering the work force, for example, doesn't mean that they've written off further education. Robeson Community College and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke offer adult education courses that could help them to advance in their jobs or prepare them for other jobs. Such courses can be taken at times that fit their work schedules. Some of these courses conceivably could spark an interest in their returning to school to learn a new profession. In addition, some employers help their employees improve their educational resume by offering them further on-the-job training.
If the military is the path taken, it also offers classes that could help them while serving and also upon returning to civilian life. It's an opportunity that should not be wasted.
We have made every effort to design our curriculum and programs to have our graduates as ready as possible to be productive citizens.
Even if their decision, upon graduation, is not to pursue any further formal education at this time, we have tried to sufficiently ground them in certain basics that would make them easily trainable by industry. When we encouraged them to take courses such as advanced math and Principles of Technology along with having them be involved with our College Tech Prep Program, we have been able to prepare many of them to make the choice between further education or immediate entry into the work force. Our efforts have been to instill in students attributes that are sought by institutes of higher learning and by prospective employers. Good communications skills, the ability to think creatively, to solve problems and teamwork have all been addressed by us and all can help regardless of where the road of life takes our students.
As our young people go out into a world radically different from the one their parents entered at this time in their lives, our hopes and prayers go with them. We know that we have done our best to see to it that they are prepared for the ever changing world, and we look forward to hearing and seeing great things from them for, as they go, so goes Robeson County.
– Colin Armstrong is the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County.