Commentary: The next chapter after your high school graduation is here

Commentary: The next chapter after your high school graduation is here
May 24
12:00 2018

The pomp and circumstance of high school graduations are upon us. Students are excited, and parents are overjoyed as all of the hard work has paid off. Just think, parents and grandparents, you won’t have to attend another parent teacher conference. You won’t have to sell another cake or cookie at the annual bake sale. No longer will you get a five-minute notice for something that they needed last week.

So as parents and love providers, you can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Your child is a high school graduate. You can relax a bit and chill out.

This scenario is being played out in high schools across America as thousands of students are receiving their diplomas. Some are receiving their diplomas with high honors. Regardless, it’s a big day and a grand occasion.

While the spirit is high, celebrating this event can’t last too long. Why? Because receiving a high school diploma is only a stepping stone to bigger and better achievements.

Back in the day, you could receive a high school diploma and then carve out a successful career and put away a nest egg. Today, I am not so sure. I think you need a little more! Some may ask, what is a little more? Every high school graduate should exercise one of three choices. The choices are college, the military or a job with a training component for advancement. You will receive an “education” with any of the choices. The key is to make sure that you receive it properly and that it benefits you.

College has long been a choice for students and there are some benefits that go with earning a college degree. Research has shown that college graduates do have the opportunity to make money over time. While some may disagree, the numbers don’t lie. It must be said that some students go to college for the wrong reasons. Here are some of the wrong reasons. They go to college because their friends are going. They go so they can leave home and be away from their parents.

Military service gives them a chance to serve their country and to see the world. After basic training you can be assigned to any number of locations. If you want a steady income, increased responsibilities and retirement at an early age, you will choose the military option. It also teaches you discipline, teamwork and how to work toward a common goal.

Jobs with training after high school are excellent options for some students. Whenever I talk with high school graduates, I encourage them to get a job with an upward mobility component. If a job doesn’t have that then you are stuck in a dead-end position.

There are no right or wrong choices for what a high school graduate will do. What is most important is they gather as much information as possible about the opportunity. Equally as important is that they be focused on the task at hand and be determined to succeed. Success awaits them, however they must be prepared for it. As supporters, we must encourage them to reach for high levels of success.

The curtain comes down on successful high school careers and now goes up for promising futures. Next fall will be different as they will be making a new set of decisions.

James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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