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Graduates are still facing uncertainty

June 11, 2013

It's an exciting time of year for members of the Class of 2013.

Seniors at area high schools -- Dallas, Central, Perrydale, Falls City, Morrison and Kings Valley Charter School -- have completed their requirements for graduation and have participated in their respective commencement ceremonies. Candidates for graduation at Western Oregon University will do the same on Saturday.

Many words describe the feeling graduates are experiencing at this time in their lives. Relief may be one of the biggest, but excitement and anxiety also come to mind. Uncertainty is another.

Today's high school and college graduates are about to embark on some of the most uncertain times any generation in our country has experienced.

We've noted this in the past and will do so again: The economic recovery that some experts continue to talk about has been slow to reach Oregon and, more notably, here in Polk County. Unemployment figures continue to hover at higher than normal levels, making immediate job prospects in many fields a daunting proposition for high schoolers and collegians entering the workforce. In fact, one regional employment expert predicts that high school students and graduates will have one of their most difficult times finding work this summer.

For those high school graduates with an eye on attending college, there is always the issue of how one will pay for the soaring cost of a higher education. In-state tuition and fees alone averaged more than $8,600 nationwide at a public, four-year university during 2012-13, according to The College Board. At a two-year community college, that figure is about $3,100.

This year's high school graduates face a more uncertain world than we have seen in decades due to the economic woes of the past six years. Some argue that makes continuing an education of particular value in these trying times. Advanced education, be it at a traditional four-year college or university, community college or trade school, almost always pays dividends down the road.

But for many, class schedules will now become work schedules; class assignments and grades now become projects, promotions and paychecks.

And while the future for many clearly is uncertain, one thing is certain: It's time to embark on a new and exciting part of your life. We at the Itemizer-Observer congratulate all of the Polk County high school seniors and those WOU graduates on their achievement. We wish you all the best of luck. Here's to a bright future.

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