‘Going Pro Early’: a different path to enter the workforce

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For many years, the university has been the pathway to get a good job and start a professional career. But what if it were the other way around?

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In a recent study, Kaplan University asked 2000 American parents their opinion about a different route to get a higher education and to land a job: enter the workforce before college.

As disruptive this concept might sound, the idea is not to eliminate universities, diplomas and certificates will continue to have the same value, it is merely to create a new pathway for future generations to prepare for the workforce.

According to a poll by Gallup of 86,000 people in the United States, 58% of participants said that getting a good job is their biggest motivation to go to college, far above wanting to learn by learning (23%). So, would it be too crazy to think about a future where you can start working?

The ‘Go Pro Early’ concept

Due to the high cost of universities, parents are beginning to question the value of higher education and increasingly seek a more affordable option that allows students to acquire the necessary skills to develop in the workplace. This is where "Go Pro Early" emerges as a new pathway.

The concept of being a professional before obtaining a college degree or ‘Go Pro Early,’ is a program where employers hire talented students directly from high school. They are offered full-time paid work at the same time they study a university degree.

It is an alternative path for those students who are already determined in what to study, have a good academic performance and are interested in hands-on learning, more than the traditional classroom.

Kaplan's research revealed that there was no difference between race or socioeconomic status and interest in the program. They explained that it might be because this alternative seems to be less risky than spending large amounts of money (and time) on a college career right after high school and without certainty that it will lead to a well-paying job.

What is the difference between "Go Pro Early" and internships? "Go Pro Early" has the same duration as two or four-year college giving students more time of real-work experience.

If interested in this alternative program students can apply on their own or be identified at schools to pass online assessments that test their talent. After the tests, those selected will be recruited for jobs in areas such as technology, engineering, health, finance, sales and administration. On the other hand, universities would offer courses online and on campus (where the employer is located), providing flexibility to support the student worker.

For their part, nine out of ten parents believe that you can learn from a job and that it is vital for personal growth. They assured that being well positioned and having a successful working life is an integral part of considering sending their children to college. Even so, 57% of respondents believe that high university costs do not justify the value of university education, even so, 54% said they find it challenging to find an alternative way to obtain accreditation. That's where a concept like ‘Go Pro Early’ could work.

Besides, online learning is becoming an integral part of the school experience. Almost half of the parents interviewed say that their children have had a positive experience with online education, so working and taking online classes does not sound so disruptive to them.

For years, the way to get a good job has been the same: high school -> university -> well-paid job. But maybe it's time to look for new alternatives. In addition, employers often ask for work experience that many new graduates do not have. A model like this could help close that skill gap that graduates experience when they land their first job. Also, this alternative can allow students to "prove" the area in which they want to work, before committing to study a university degree.