Low-skill jobs are a shrinking piece of America’s economy. More than ever, education and training are crucial to getting a good job and achieving financial stability.
For society as a whole, it pays to open the door to higher education, whether at two-year or four-year institutions, to as large a portion of our young people as possible.
It’s encouraging that Midlands education leaders such as University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken, Iowa State University President Steven Leath and Nebraska Wesleyan University President Fred Ohles have outlined practical ways in which their institutions, as part of a national effort, will reach out to disadvantaged young people. The focus, rightly, is not only on helping the students enter college but also on graduating.
In the Omaha area, the Avenue Scholars program has a track record of success on this issue and has demonstrated key elements that are needed: Helping students understand the real-world demands of college. Providing them with mentoring on an ongoing basis. Connecting them with college graduates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In some cases, community college will be the best option for these young people. Part of Avenue Scholars’ success, for example, stems from the extensive collaboration with Metropolitan Community College.
America needs to extend opportunity to the breadth of our young people. In that effort, our institutions of higher learning can make an important difference.