I tend to be pretty critical of the federal government, but every once in awhile the feds come up with something that is quite useful. In this case, it is the Labor Department’s 2016-2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
For a high school student thinking about what (if any) college to attend, it provides an excellent list of occupations, expected salary levels and — very interestingly — educational requirements for the jobs listed. We are accustomed to see income levels for careers that require college and professional degrees, but it may surprise some to see how well a person can be compensated with little or no college education.
The Wall Street Journal describes the Handbook at greater length in this article, and it got me to thinking about how college Career Services staff could make use of this information. In my own experience on a college faculty, it was clear that many of the students in my courses would go on to advanced degrees or professional programs, and they were making good use of their college investment. However, there were others who — although admitted to college — were just wasting somebody’s money, listed on probation and struggling to get by.
Career Services works with students to obtain internships and post-graduate full-time employment, but maybe its staff should also be meeting with the students who show up on the academic probation lists, and counsel them about careers that can pay well and do not require a college degree. Of course, this would involve counseling a student to leave school, with the resulting loss of tuition revenue, so I can understand why this is not a high priority of any Career Services organization. But, if the students are clearly not succeeding in their course work, such career counseling would seem to be the right thing to do.