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Should high schools prioritize college or workforce preparedness?

In most high schools across the United States, classes are focused on academic topics that are necessary for applying to and attending college. However, the cost of college is higher than ever and many college graduates are finding themselves buried in debt or without jobs. Recently there has been increased federal and state funding for technical training in high schools to support the growing demand for skilled labor that does not require a college degree. But which direction is better for supporting the needs and abilities of students, as well as the country’s changing labor market: college or workforce preparedness?

This program is part of American Graduate: Getting to Work, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. More at


Is College Worth the Price?

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University

Showing Students College Isn't the Only Option for Success

Additional resources to think about

Why High School Students Need More Than College Prep
A clip from All Things Considered that talks about why an Oregon high school offers 40 vocational courses.

University: Does a Degree Pay?
This video from The Economist examines how the increase in college degrees has impacted wages.

Making the Future: Ian
Ian Mannings is a high school senior who has the best of both worlds awaiting him once he graduates: A full time job at a company that will also pay his tuition at Goodwin College.

Trade Jobs or College Degrees?
This PBS NewsHour video from the Student Reporting Labs shows how one high school exposes students to workforce training and academic subjects.

Should more kids skip college for workforce training?
Of all the U.S. high school students who graduate high school and go on to college, a large proportion will never earn their degree. How can educators better train those who may struggle in trying to pick a course of study?

College Isn't the Only Option
This video from CET in Ohio covers the multiple options on the table for students after they leave high school.


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Should high schools prioritize college or workforce preparedness?

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