By Julie Desmond
With sponsors ranging from the Boston Celtics to the United States Secret Service, Stay in School programs abound. The benefits of graduating high school are indisputable, but as more than an old adage, "Stay in School" should be considered a direct message to every working American regardless of age, race, gender or number of diplomas already collected. With sponsors ranging from the Boston Celtics to the United States Secret Service, Stay in School programs abound. The benefits of graduating high school are indisputable, but as more than an old adage, "Stay in School" should be considered a direct message to every working American regardless of age, race, gender or number of diplomas already collected. Success can be measured in a variety of ways, including job satisfaction, opportunity to contribute to an organization or salary level. When satisfaction wanes or wages plateau, some honest introspection often reveals that the career stall is caused by a lack of education or training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey (http://www.bls.gov/emp/emptab7.htm), a high school graduate working full time earns an average of 42% more than someone working full time with less than a high school diploma. Graduate from college and your salary could jump another 62%, a difference of $10,000 per year. The pattern continues across every level of education, according to this 2006 study.
These averages coincide with the anecdotal evidence gathered every day through conversations with hiring managers. When two candidates with equivalent experience and skills vie for the same position, the job seeker with a degree, related certificate or training on specific computer systems typically receives the offer. Promotions, too, can be based on education or training levels.
Think you can't afford it? Think again. Many companies offer formal tuition reimbursement for full time employees, sometimes allowing time off for attending classes. If your ambition is to learn a new software program, consider Community Education offerings or your local library for free or low-cost training with professional instructors. Are you a member of Toastmasters or your local Chamber of Commerce? Check these groups' web sites for descriptions of business-related training with the added benefit of opportunities for networking.
Of course, time is money, so make an effort to capitalize on any course in which you enroll. Attend every class, complete assignments, search for projects relevant to your industry or position and apply what you've learned whenever possible. Develop a friendly rapport with classmates or the instructor and you will find you've expanded your network to include professionals pleased to offer insight or answer a question when you call.
Don't discount the value of continuing education, regardless of how successful you've already become. Additional training, formally or informally, always pays.