Lift your glass to Class of ‘13

High school graduation is a major accomplishment for some students. For others it’s one step closer to college – two-year, four-year or professional student. I, for one, don’t remember much from my high school graduation and it’s only through pictures that I recognize any members of my class. Of course, there were my close friends, but pictures of me lined up, heel to toe ready to march down the aisle look like I’m standing in a row of strangers. However, we did have 410 students in our class.

I remember my older brother and sister’s (twins) graduation  better than my own. With all the hubbub around my house as neighbors and relatives gathered before the big event, I somehow lost track of the group as they loaded into cars and sped off to the ceremony.

There I was on a drizzly Saturday afternoon home alone. Tears roll down my cheeks as I stood on the driveway not knowing exactly why they left me. A neighbor noticed my distress and came to the rescue. He put me in his station wagon and drove me to the high school and found my family entourage. I spotted my mother in the back seat of my aunt’s Chevrolet Impala and knocked on the window. My mom said “What are you doing out there in the rain? Get in the car.” She was a little nervous to say the least.
Packed into the gym for the graduation, I remember it smelled of damp clothes; that smell such as my school bus filled with wet kids on a rainy morning.

Graduation for this year’s Chesterfield students will be much the same as in years past. Not to discount it; it is the culmination of thirteen years of hard work by students across the county, but the amount you would have to pay me to attend, you couldn’t afford. Linda on the other hand considers it part of work, and work it is. She covers five graduations. All five high schools in our part of Chesterfield. You will notice her work in the special graduation section in this week’s issue.

But after the pomp and circumstance, the parties, gifts and advice on a career – as from the film “The Graduate – with Dustin Huffman playing Benjamin:”

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

What will graduates experience in the job market after high school? What can they expect after college? Will students even make it into college or be able to afford it?

I become disappointed when I see the statistics of which careers high school and college students will end up. I’m sure you have seen them too, but maybe you can guide your favorite student to at least minor in something in demand.

Of course, health related jobs would be in the top five, with an ageing population and the search for cures from poison ivy to the most invasion of cancers. Jobs such as biomedical engineers with a bachelor’s degree based wages have increased as much as 62 percent, with a starting wage greater than $54,250 per year by 2020. Oddly, meeting, convention, and event planner’s will have increased by 44 percent;  interpreters and translators, 42 percent;  market research analysts and marketing specialists, 41 percent; and health educators, $54,250 per year; an increase of 37 percent with a bachelor’s degree, according to Forbes magazine.

What if a student decides not to pursue college, on which Chesterfield Schools focuses its curriculum?

According to Careers.com automotive service technicians today earn $37,662 per year; accounting clerks, $29,991; carpenters,  $36,889; customer service representatives, $31,685; and dental assistants, $32,246.

In general, the non-college pay can very, but even if these wages are close, this graduate can hardly buy a house with their salary alone. In many cases even a decent apartment can stretch their budget.

Two-year associate degrees pave the way for the bachelors, but typically the student stops at two years and goes to work. And what is his salary? We are back to the medical field. Here’s a good place to start a career: radiation therapists, $74,200; dental hygienists, $74,200; registered nurses, $63,800; diagnostic medical sonographers, $63,000 and rounding out the top five, all medical field jobs, respiratory therapists, $53,300.

On the high end: a psychiatrist’s average base pay is $169,479 per year; physician, $152,768; dentist, $126,134; sales director, $119,758 and an engineer’s base pay averages $117,552. But you have to consider the time spent in school and school loans.

The degrees to stay away from? Don’t try these:

The U.S. Department of Labor projects 64,000 fewer jobs in agriculture over the next seven years. Reason? Corporate farms. Next up fashion designer. Like movie star, a low percentage make it in this field. Keep reemembering; get that minor degree. Theatre? See fashion design. Better make that one a hobby. Animal science, see agriculture.

Horticulture; seems like anything to do with art or dirt are tough jobs to get.

I hope our high school grads are successful in any field they choose. Congratulations 2013 graduates.

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