New Report: The State of Opportunity in America

Most people involved with education are are quick to point to the benefits associated with earning a high school diploma, and especially with earning a college degree.

But to Americans living in our nation’s “fragile communities,” earning a degree or professional certificate beyond a high school diploma instills a more profound sense of confidence in a person’s ability to achieve their most important goals (career, financial, health) than either their high school or four-year college diploma does.  This is according to a new study, The State of Opportunity in America: Understanding Barriers and Identifying Solutions, published earlier this month by the Center for Advancing Opportunity

Fragile communities, for the purpose of this analysis, are defined largely by the low average socioeconomic status of their residents, including the proportion living below the poverty level and the proportion without a college degree.

In Nevada, one-third of households have annual income below $35,000.  The same holds true for households in Clark County.

People possessing a vocational or associate degree are significantly more likely to be confident in their ability to achieve their goals, according to surveys conducted by the Gallup organization.  Any increase in education levels was associated with increased self-efficacy, the research showed, and the largest gaps were between those with a high school education and those with any form of post-secondary education.

Most of us in education work to overcome barriers to graduating high school, enrolling in college, and ultimately earning a college degree.  Perhaps adding the importance of earning postsecondary professional certifications should be just as much a part of this conversation — because when it comes to the confidence we express in our ability to meet our most important goals, the payoff for these recognized certifications appears to be even greater.