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College diploma worth nearly $1 million

diploma cash“If you dream big enough, you can be just like Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie.”

Who hasn't heard a parent relay some semblance of the foregoing motivational thought to a child? And while dreams are fine for young adults, dreams can also hurt if they obscure or delay achievable career options.

“It’s easy to understand why many young North Americans dream of riches and fame in professional sports, but the odds of becoming a professional athlete are as unlikely as winning a lottery,” says Kate Tognotti, instructional dean, School of Hospitality & Tourism, Selkirk College. “Contrast a few thousand pro athlete spots with hundreds of thousands of management careers in Canada’s booming recreation, hospitality, and tourism industries. Ironically, though, if one is motivated by lottery-sized financial gain, an $880,000 prize awaits college diploma holders.”

Tognotti says this impressive number was revealed in a study by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC), titled: Economic Contribution of Canada's Colleges and Institutes. The research looked at income and economic impact from the nation’s 150 colleges, institutes and polytechnics. A key finding is that Canadian college graduates with two or three-year diplomas earn an average $41,937 per year, 29% more than people with only high school diplomas. “This means high school grads earn $32,509, on average, per year, $9,428 less than a college diploma holder. Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is dramatic; a college grad will earn $880,000 more.”*

Tognotti says proof of the significant income boost brought about by a college education also addresses an issue that can deter college attendance. “Statistics Canada reports that the cost of going to college is a barrier for some, but consider that the annual income for college grads increases $3,800 for every year of college attendance. The addition of nearly a million dollars to a lifetime of earnings makes education a very good investment and one that leads to a more comfortable lifestyle.

“Still, Selkirk College has to be sensitive to cost concerns,” she notes, “so we’re taking a 3rd Millennium approach to minimize costs by offering a new 100% online certificate in golf operations management. The golf industry faces a critical shortage of trained managers, so this ‘earn as you learn,’ 10-course Golf Club Operations Online (GCOOL) certificate lets existing golf club staff upgrade their skills without leaving the workplace. The high tech courses also give significant advantages to people who want to break into the industry; it’s impressive to be able to include accredited golf management courses on job applications.

“Online courses are very appropriate for the Gen X and Gen Y generations that have grown up using computers and the Internet,” says Tognotti. “Harvard University researchers report about a million computer-based learners in 2007, a 22-fold increase over 2000, but that’s still only one per cent of education courses. Online, distance education, is the fastest growing segment of education, but we haven’t seen anything yet. By 2019 researchers believe about 50% of courses will be delivered online.”

Canada’s tourism and recreation industries have never offered more or better opportunities, Tognotti adds. “Not only are new properties opening at a rapid rate, but there will be a huge sucking sound from the management vacuum created by Canada’s retiring baby boomers. Millions of new, high paying jobs will be created in the coming decades,” says Tognotti, “but the successful candidates will be those who planned and prepared by getting post secondary credentials to capitalize on these rewarding careers. Our new approach will help working golf managers and students of golf management cope with the challenges.”

* The calculation: a high school graduate earns $29,775 and gets a 3% raise every year for 45 years will earn $3.01 million in total. A college diploma holder who earns $41,937 and who also gets a 3% raise each year for 45 years will earn $3.89 million.


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