A Road Less Traveled

I was reading these stats online this morning: 


The college enrollment rate for recent U.S. high school graduates fell to 61.4% in 2023, the lowest level in at least three decades. That’s down roughly five points from before the pandemic in 2019 (66.2%).

Meanwhile, recent high school grads who skipped college have become more active in the labor market. The share of that group, ages 16 to 24, working or looking for work has risen from 66.9% in 2021 to 71.7% in 2023. 


A narrative that still places a sort of stigma on humans who decide to take matters into their own hands:  “grads who skipped college”. Why is it that high school grads can’t choose to do something other than college? Who knows what they want to do with their life at 18? And isn’t the American dream based on pioneering? Taking a road less traveled? The rebellion that comes with entrepreneurship?


This brings me to a recent conversation I had with a teacher who is also celebrating the road less traveled.  Amy White, a career development coordinator at our local high school, texted me the other day, “Do you have time to listen to a crazy idea?” I LOVE crazy ideas so of course the answer is yes!


Her crazy idea fed into the stats above. “What if instead of doing a college signing day we did a career signing day?” Again YES!!  


Amy’s Words and Ask:

As high school graduation approaches, I have a request. 


Don’t ask kids, “Where are you going to college?”


Instead, ask, “What are you doing after graduation?”


You see - college isn’t for everyone. Maybe college isn’t for them right now. Some kids go straight to work and work hard to move up and become very successful.  


I’m not saying going to college isn’t awesome! But when you ask “Where are you going to college,” you imply that’s the “best path.” Some kids are even ashamed that they are “just” attending community college.  


This is a season of celebration, don’t make kids feel “less than.”


And on this note, I’m proud that last week I put together our “TCR Career Signing Day” for kids who already have a full-time job lined up.  


Find someone this week and celebrate them for what is best for them, not what would have been best for you. 💜

When you don’t follow the “normal” path, there is something wrong with you. At least that is what we are told. I see it time and time again with the people I work with in retail. The confidence to do the job is not there. I hear narratives such as, “I didn’t go to college,” “I am not a lawyer like my parents wanted me to be,” or “This is the only job that would take me.”  


A less-than mentality produces less than behaviors resulting in bad habits.


Even the recent college graduates I have been working with are having a hard time finding jobs in their studied careers, because of lack of experience. Resulting in an influx of great candidates for the industry that continues to welcome anyone who breathes: Retail. Yet they are not being trained and when asked how they can improve, they are told to stand behind the cash wrap and say hello to everyone who walks in the door.  


A lose-lose. 


This can change. So let's change the narrative because: 

  1. Hospitality IS a viable career.
  2. You are enough because you were hired for the role you are in.


For more information to begin writing a better story, email me at [email protected].



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