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The Importance of Women Completing Postsecondary Certificates and Degrees

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

 

The importance of students being college and career ready is a much discussed topic today. Equally important to being “ready” for college and career, is ensuring that students follow through and obtain a college degree. In Utah, a majority of young women continue on to college after high school graduation, but a large percentage never finish.

First, let’s define the term college. College means 1, 2, 4 or more—a 1-year certification, a 2-year associate degree, a 4-year bachelor’s degree, or a professional degree. No matter what level of postsecondary education a woman attains, obtaining a college certificate and/or degree is invaluable!

The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission – Women’s College Task Force, the Utah System of Higher Education, the Utah State Office of Education, and Prosperity 2020 have partnered to achieve the goal of having more Utah women complete postsecondary certificates and degrees.

The report The Benefits of Higher Education for Women in Utah finds:

  • Many young women do not understand the broad value of a college education.
  • Many young women believe they are being encouraged to attend college but not necessarily graduate.
  • Nearly all young women in the study agreed that a college education is “very important” and “wonderful.” Yet, many do not see the urgency of attending college and completing their degrees.
  • Study participants who had not attended or who had dropped out of college truly believe they will obtain degrees “sometime in the future.” However, statistics show that the majority of these women will never return.

There is a much stronger likelihood that a woman will earn a college degree if she attends college immediately after high school.

Take an active role to:

  • Help young women and those who influence them understand the broad value of getting a college education.
  • Talk to girls, as young as possible, about going to college.
  • Discuss with girls and young women the importance of graduating from college and not just attending college. Use the word “graduation” in more conversations.
  • Encourage young women to attend college directly after high school.
  • Ask K-12 teachers to integrate assignments that help students research why college is important; invite guest speakers to discuss the college experience.

Through the Student Education Occupation Plan (SEOP) students create a college and career ready plan. Our vision is that this plan will put each young woman on a path to enter college—after high school graduation—stay in school, and obtain a certificate and/or degree.

By completing a postsecondary education, women:

  • Maximize their quality of life and that of their family.
  • Have the ability to earn more than a livable wage.
  • Will benefit from continual opportunity.
  • Will have fewer periods of unemployment.

Learn more about the Women and Education Project at http://www.uvu.edu/wep/. Together we can impact the lives of young women, and educate each one about the importance and long term benefits of a postsecondary education. Obtaining a college certificate and/or degree will impact a woman’s life and the lives of every member of their family and succeeding generations.

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