It’s not surprising that Utah has a gender gap when it comes to higher education. Many Utah women marry younger and have children earlier in life than peers in other states. Sometimes, as a result, they drop out. Some fear that Utah will lose a competitive edge in hiring with such a gender gap.
However, this issue should be extended to include the types of careers adults pursue. When it comes to educational choices, a traditional four-year college education, with liberal arts included, is probably not the ideal path for many young adults.
There are options for young mothers or other parents who find traditional college a barrier to family and economic responsibilities. What’s more, these alternatives may provide much more efficient paths to economic security. Learning a skilled trade at a technical college, or working as an apprentice to learn a trade while being mentored is a good option. We need to look at targeted higher education and its many varieties.
We are certainly not knocking higher education, but it’s a fact that many college graduates, or even new lawyers, are waiting tables simply because today’s economy is not ready to provide them job satisfaction. Today’s young adults need to choose the right degree — one that will get them a job. That needs to be the highest priority for those who need to start supporting themselves and their families.
Motherhood, marriage, and other events that come as we grow older need not be a barrier to economic independence. As a society, our leaders need to find ways to make it easier for all adults to start getting the skills necessary to succeed.
With that goal, there needs to come the assumption that success is not always found at the traditional university or college.