Success possible the old fashioned way — with hard work

Success possible the old fashioned way — with

The issue: Tough times face the Class of 2013.

Our view: Nobody ever said life was easy, but for those who prepare it can be better.

Blackburn College held its 144th commencement ceremony May 18, awarding diplomas to 126 graduates.

Carlinville High School will hold its graduation at 3 p.m. May 26.

The Class of 2013, both high school and college, face radically different worlds outside of school than did earlier generations of Americans.

During the 1940s, a generation of high schoolers faced a world at war for the second time in a century.

The generations that followed fought more wars, explored space, faced tragedies unimaginable to those who came before, brought equal rights and opportunity to more and more people, and generally built an economy that raised many people up from poverty to the middle class and others to enormous wealth.

For the most part, good paying jobs were available to those who wanted them. College became an expectation instead of a choice.

Today, graduates face diminished opportunities and more competition for those jobs.

Unemployment over the past five years has created a generation of older workers who lost jobs, retrained and are trying to get back into the workforce.

In fact, in 2011, 3.9 million of the nearly 18.1 million students enrolled in undergraduate programs were 30 years of age and older.

Although graduates have youth on their side, experience is nothing to take for granted.

Then there is debt.

Rising costs ensure that many students will be taking on a lot of debt to pay for higher education.
A recent survey of high school seniors found that 33 percent of those surveyed cited college debt as their top worry.

The facts appear to support that concern.

A recent study found that two-thirds of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation, and the average borrower owed $26,600.

Outstanding student loan debt stands at about $956 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.

The average college senior in 2012 graduated with an average of $27,000 of debt.

The good statistical news, however, shows a direct correlation between achievement in high school and completion of a college degree. In other words, the higher the high school grade point average, the likelier that student will graduate from college.

The message that can be taken away from this discussion by this year’s graduating seniors is this: Nothing beats hard work to become successful.

The graduating Blackburn seniors know this fact of life, having just spent four years in the college’s unique work study program that prepares students for a lifetime of working.

The work program was first instituted at Blackburn College in 1913 in order to provide access to higher education for students who had academic ability but were lacking financial means.

According to Blackburn’s web site, “The opportunities the Work Program provides for student learning and development are just as important as the monetary savings. The Work Program is a vehicle for personal growth, with outstanding opportunities for leadership and community involvement. … Students just like you make major decisions about resource allocation, policy formulation, and direct supervision of their fellow students.”

As our high school students take that first step outside the bubble where they have been raised, educated and nurtured, they might do well to look at their older counterparts across town.

No matter where — or even if —they go to college, high schoolers should take note that academic success and work experience truly prepares young people to become responsible, productive members of our society.