05/12/12 — A diploma: It is the key to evening out the playing field

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A diploma: It is the key to evening out the playing field

One of the big laments these days is that there is a big divide between the haves and have nots.

And, the critics say, the playing field needs to be evened out to allow those who are struggling to catch up with those who are successful.

Well, here is one of those places where the playing field can even out substantially.

A diploma of any kind is critical in today's job market. If you want to get ahead in life, you have to exhibit some advanced skill -- whether it be in English, history or as a master mechanic. And to make that happen, you have to exert a little effort.

Without a high school diploma, there is little choice for a means to support oneself other than menial, low-wage jobs. And sometimes, you cannot even qualify for those.

Making the mistake of dropping out of school or ignoring the opportunity to learn in school, that is how you end up on the hamster wheel of dependence on government assistance and a future that has little to no opportunity for a better life.

With a college degree or advanced training in a technical field, many more doors open and many more possibilities exist.

Completing advanced work shows that you are serious about your future -- and willing to put the effort in to show an employer that skill.

It also shows that you are responsible and understand the value of hard work.

And getting that degree is not easy for anyone.

This weekend, more than 600 students at Wayne Community College turned their tassels as they received diplomas and certificates acknowledging their completion of degree or training requirements.

Their paths were not smooth. Many had to juggle jobs, family and responsibilities. They had to force themselves to study, even when they would rather have been doing something else.

And now, after all those sacrifices and long hours, they are ready to pursue their dreams.

Their journeys all began with the determination and desire to improve their lots in life. No one handed them a check and no one forced them to complete the work. They did it on their own.

So, the lesson to be learned here is simple -- and perhaps it is one the next group of leaders in Washington can comprehend, too.

The way to even out the playing field and to have fewer people on welfare or trapped in lives of poverty and hopelessness is not to simply expand the government benefits payroll.

It is to make sure more of them bring home diplomas.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

So why is it so hard for some to understand that if you want more people to succeed, you have to push them out of the comfort zone of just waiting for something to happen or their lives to change.

A government check does not give a person freedom. A diploma does.

Published in Editorials on May 12, 2012 11:42 PM