“I’ve always wondered how much further I could go if I had a degree.”
Linda Thomson began her post-secondary education with enthusiasm, but was lured away by the prospect of paid work.
She is a Student Services Coordinator at Seneca College’s Seneca@York campus, but says she thinks the path to her position took much longer than it would have if she had post-secondary education.
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Now she is determined to encourage her two sons to pursue further study after high school.
“My parents did not push education,” Thomson explains, “for my kids that’s what it’s all about.” If Thomson’s sons attend college or university, they will be considered first generation students.
Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) defines a first generation student as someone who is the first in their families to undertake post-secondary education.
With post-secondary education becoming increasingly valued and necessary, the number of first generation students is rising.
According to MTCU, people with a post-secondary education earn higher incomes, maintain overall better health and encounter better opportunities.
By 2013, more than 70 per cent of all new jobs, including entry-level positions, will require some post-secondary education or skills training.
Thomson compares the standards of her generation to today’s, who require a college diploma or university degree in order to be considered for a position.
“When I was in school, you only required a high school diploma to get a good job,” Thomson says.
“Now it doesn’t matter how street smart you are unless you have the paper to prove it.”