Letter: A better path to building a career

Published: 2/26/2021 12:02:13 AM

John Lynch makes many sound points in his Feb. 20 “My Turn” about combining the university and community college systems in New Hampshire. Seamless pathways do indeed help students map out career and educational plans with an eye toward limiting time in school and conserving tuition dollars. Many, but far from all, jobs require bachelor’s degrees and some students will benefit from articulation agreements between institutions. However, at a time when the number of four-year college graduates in many fields exceeds the number of jobs requiring those degrees, and when unsupportable student debt makes headlines, encouraging more students to seek four-year degrees is the wrong strategy.

Instead, the career and technical programs offered at colleges such as NHTI allow motivated and qualified students to earn degrees and licensing in several high-paying fields, usually in just two to three years and with minimal debt. The allied health, engineering technology, and computer information programs are outstanding examples. In addition, our state is facing a shortage of qualified workers in all the building and other skilled trades. High school teachers and counselors would serve students better by helping them explore opportunities in these fields, and especially by not suggesting that they are a less respectable way to earn a living than those requiring more years in school. Uniting USNH and CCSNH does nothing to address this shortage or to encourage students in these directions. On the contrary, once the USNH enrolls students, it will want to hang onto them as long as possible. A better strategy would be for CCSNH schools to return to their career and technical roots.



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