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Note to high school graduates: ENROLL IN COLLEGE

High school seniors at Corbett High School already have received their diplomas, the first of many in the region to reach that milestone.

Over the next two weeks, students from Centennial, Gresham, Barlow, Reynolds, Sandy and Estacada will follow.

There will be the customary commencement events, congratulations by parents and family, class parties and family celebrations.

As we have said in the past, this is an important milestone for these young adults, representing significant achievements that, for some, started even before kindergarten with a year or two spent in preschool. In some cases, this has been a 14-year journey of learning, debating, maturing, cramming and testing just to arrive at this particular moment.

To the high school graduates of 2013, we extend to you our congratulations for an achievement that has not been easy, but that will pay benefits for a lifetime. By graduating from high school, you have demonstrated that you possess the minimum skills of anyone who soon will join the work force.

Now, get yourself to college.

We would be remiss if we didn’t point out the harsh realities that a high school education — no matter how rigorous — will do little to help young people advance beyond their first jobs in professional careers.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow for many young people who know all-to-well the realities of the post-recession economy, and who may already be wondering if the expense of college will pay off over the long haul.

A 2012 study by McKinsey & Co., an American global management consulting firm, reported that almost half of four-year college graduates are working jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. This comes at a time when unemployment among youths has reached its highest level since World War II.

But young people who are just now leaving high school should not be dissuaded from pursuing higher education. Even though many recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed in their first jobs out of school, it won’t be that way forever.

Recent college graduates should view the value of their degrees in their ability to land their second, third and fourth jobs out of college, when they are promoted into managerial and executive roles. Those who have achieved a college diploma are positioned to move onward and upward in their careers.

For those jobs, employers are looking for people who are quick problem solvers, who work well in teams, who have broad world views and who have full command of their areas of expertise. Those are traits that are honed in a college setting.

Those who fall back on their high school diplomas to land these jobs will find it increasingly difficult in a highly competitive job market.

The moral of this message is simple: Congratulations on finishing high school; now suck it up and get yourself to college.