The More You Learn, the More You Earn!


A week ago, I was asked to speak briefly to 20 high school students who are involved in a summer school program called "Dare to Dream." Our local community college wanted me to talk about higher education and the career benefits of receiving a degree.

Since I love learning and love encouraging students to believe in themselves, I was excited by the task. It also made me consider the strategy I would use with my Lil' Lewie once he was in high school and considering going to college. Here is the advice that I shared with the "Dare to Dream" program, and the advice I would share with my son:

1. Remember the statement, "The more you learn, the more you earn." In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the average income by educational attainment as...

--High school dropout $17,299

--High school diploma $26,933

--Associate's degree $36,645

--Bachelor's degree $52,671

(Statistics are expected to change slightly for the 2010 census but not by much.)

2. Start a journal. Students in high school should start creating two lists. The first list should consist of activities, skills, and talents. In other words, it should mention everything they are good at. For example: "I am good at reading, writing, talking to people, listening..." The second list should consist of their interests (what they like to do). For example: "I like animals, fashion, computers, teaching, helping people..." It's never too early for children to begin understanding themselves--this means their talents and dreams.

3. Take a survey. Most colleges offer surveys that ask a variety of questions to determine a student's interests and match those interests to possible careers choices. Some of these surveys include the SIGI 3 or the Myers Briggs Personality Survey. There are other free surveys that can be accessed online. One example is called The Drive of Your Life.

4. Find a career mentor. Once they have a few career choices in mind, high school students should begin looking for people who are currently working in these professions. For example, if they're considering becomming a police officer, they should consider talking to someone they know that's in this field. Perhaps, there is an uncle, aunt, or long-time family friend on the policeforce that can provide some words of wisdom about the job, the salary, the required education, and the quality of life, etc.

5. Consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook online. This book lists various occupations and tells people the following:

--The money/income they can expect to make in this career.

--The education needed for this career.

--The lifestyle they can expect with this career. (For example, will they have to work in the evenings, on the weekends, on holidays, etc.?)

--The job prospects/opportunities . Is this a new and emerging field with lots of job growth/opportunities, or is this a saturated market?

When I mention these steps, incoming college students seem to glaze over. They've been so protected or coddled by their parents at home that don't know where to start. They don't know much about the work world, and they know even less about today's salaries. Many of my conversations sound like this one:

Me: "So, how much money do you want to make each year?"

Student: "I want to be a millionaire."

Me: "Really. So what type of career do you want to pursue?"

Student: Silence.

Most of the time the students I encounter either expect too much or too little when it comes to a salary. They have never been taught about finances, how to manage money, or how to create a budget. Many don't know what a regular mortgage payment, car payment, car insurance payment, or tax payment look like. And, they really don't know what a regular student loan payment looks like either. They'd cringe if they saw the $600 that my husband pays for his student loans each month.

Once our children become teens, I think it's important for them to begin researching careers and to begin learning about money, salaries, and bills. (They can even watch how we take care of the monthly budget at home.) The more teens know about real life, the more they can actually plan for it. Successful students are the ones who are proactive (not reactive) about their futures. In today's economy, there's no room for surprises. The more our children know, the better.


  1. This list was really great! I was really lucky that the high school I went to required everyone to take the personality test, and our counselors worked with us to help us determine what kind of college would be the best fit, what majors we might want to choose, and how to achieve the goals that we wanted.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting... I am now following and look forward to reading more of your stuff.
    All the best,

  3. what great ideas! Love your blog...just found it through Our Happy Home. new follower!

  4. Great advice for these students, they are lucky to have had you talk with them. I hope these students remember these important points:)

  5. Great post! Love the program "Dare to Dream" ~ that should be in all schools! Thanks for coming by. I'm following now

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Loved your post about going to a I'm following you now and can't wait to read more about your blog..and YES you need to resell your kids items. It's BIG money!

  7. Hi There, sorry I'm so late in following you back. Been away all weekend.

    Nice to meet you :)


  8. Hello! New reader here :). Please follow me back at The Nutritionist Reviews and Giveaways:

    Looking forward to reading more from you!

  9. This is such great advice and I love your blog - I'm now following and look forward to reading more. Thanks for stopping by tonight!

  10. That advice is great! I am going to have to share it with my middle schoolers!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Thanks for the wonderful information. I forwarded your link to my son who is entering high school in just a few days. He is already concerned about making money and exploring what kind of work he'd like to do. Your info provides additional resources for him to explore. I really like the idea of creating the 2 lists. -EW

  12. Thank you for stopping by my blog! I love what you spoke about. I'm a high school business teacher and try to teach them about personal finance. No matter how much I try, I don't think they really "get it" until they are on their own.

  13. WOW!! I use to do these same talks and show people how to access that website!! I did this when I worked for our county's One Stop and we helped people get WIA dollars for school and find a job!!! It is amazing how many kids DON'T get it!!!


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