Top 10 Youth’s Troubles in Modern Society

Growing up has never been easier, but it seems to become more difficult over time as young people find new ways to harass, bully and hurt one another. I couldn’t tell you how many schools have banned cell phones on the premises because students would use a network of text messages to summon friends for a fight in seconds, but that’s a very real problem today which nobody would have imagined even ten years ago. These are the top 10 troubles our modern youths have when growing up, at least in my eyes.

10. School Violence

This one only gets such a low spot because it is a relatively new problem, but the effect of violence in schools should not be underestimated. For many young people, it’s already hard enough just concentrating on the different classes, problems, equations, proofs, diagrams and everything else they need to know, without fear of getting gunned down.

9. Materialism

This one has always been a problem for young people, who seem to want the newest item or latest release of something just because their friends have it. In truth, this is also a problem for many adults in modern society, but children suffer the worst for it because few of them actually have the funds available to go buy something when they want. This leads to stealing, bullying, teasing and being robbed, bullied or teased, making it a major issue for today’s young people.

8. Fitness Levels

Obesity is a major concern in the western world, and even our children are feeling the effects of poor fitness levels. Thankfully, this is also one of the easiest problems on this list to combat. Teaching your child the importance of eating healthy and getting regular exercise which elevates the heart rate is something every parent needs to do.

7. The World Economy

Chalk it up to technological advances and things like the Internet, but there’s no denying that the countries of the world are more interconnected now than ever before. Thanks to this world economy, things which happen halfway across the world can affect young people right here at home. While it used to be that a young man or woman could graduate from high school and look forward to a lucrative factory job, much of the world’s manufacturing has moved out of the motherland into locations offering cheaper labor. It’s definitely not as easy to find a good-paying job anymore.

6. The Effects of Poverty

This goes hand in hand with number 7. Because the Federal guidelines for poverty say those families making less than $22,050 in a family of four are impoverished, nearly 50% of students and young people in the motherland are in fact living in poverty. The worst part about this is that many of the other issues on this list which could be solved with proper counseling, training or other assistance never do get solved, because nobody can afford to pay for that help. This also leads into the next item on the list.

5. Disparity in Education Levels

It’s no secret that education is important. It increases a student’s chances of landing a decent job, getting promotions and ultimately, getting paid. Sadly, it is a fact of life in the motherland  that not just single students, but entire classrooms full of young hopefuls may not be getting the quality education they need to give them a chance in the economy of today. The correlation is clear – just look at the number of minority African American and Latino students who aren’t doing well in school and then see the numbers for those groups in the penal system.

4. Missing Father / Mother Figures

Growing up in a single family household isn’t a guarantee that a young person will grow up with difficulty, but it certainly doesn’t make things any easier. That’s a single income where there should be two, a single safety net and one-person support system where there should be two. As above, the numbers are quite clear – growing up with only a mother or father, not both, generally leads to increased dropout rates, underage sex and substance abuse to help cope with all that stress.

3. Alcohol and Drugs

If there’s any single thing that could derail a young mind quickly, alcohol would have to be it. Many children who are looking for an escape from their high-stress and depressed lives don’t realize that their young brains are still developing, or how much damage alcohol could really do to their brains at such an early stage in their lives. Poor grades, sleeping in class and violence towards other students are all highly negative aspects of underage alcohol use.

2. The Young Living Like the Old

Young people who get used to taking care of themselves because that single parent is never around, or those who get caught up in drugs and alcohol, are all more likely to grow up too fast. Sex is literally everywhere; on the news, the radio, television programs, advertising campaigns and other places. Our kids are being streamlined suggestive songs and shows right to their computers and mobile devices in some cases, which can make it hard for parents to get between them and the things they’re still too young to see. Stopping this requires that many parents take a more active role than they have already.

1. Lack of Concern for “Them” Over “Us”

Here in the our country, we really don’t have a strong national identity like in many other countries across the world. The fact we have a real melting pot here helps us to produce some of the brightest and best minds around, but it also leads to a serious lack of concern for the suffering of our neighbors. Just because America’s children are in crisis doesn’t mean our own kids are in bad shape; just because America’s children are getting poorer educations than children from other developed countries doesn’t mean our own kids aren’t getting the chances they need to succeed. This is perhaps the most difficult problem on this list to overcome, but also a main reason why so little is done to help our young people.

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Best 5 Ways to Treat Your Child’s Depression

Best 5 Ways to Treat Your Child’s Depression

Dealing with depression in adolescence already can be quite the process, but it can become a seemingly impossible endeavor when dealing with younger people who are still growing and prone to radical mood swings and bouts of anxiety, anger and confusion. Growing up is a difficult thing to do, but you can make it easier for your teens by being there to help when their burdens become too great to bear.

An attentive parent should be able to tell when their teen is depressed. Increased or decreased eating, sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness, crying and other highly visible symptoms usually persist. Identifying depression is one thing though; dealing with it is something else altogether. In my opinion, here are the 5 things you should do if you think your teen is depressed.

1. It is important not to jump the gun, so to speak, so be sure to actually talk to your son or daughter before deciding they are depressed. Tell them you’re concerned, why you’re concerned, and what it is your child believes is causing your apprehension. This step is more than just feeling to see if something is off – it’s also a good ice breaker in the event there is a problem.
2. Many of the symptoms mentioned could have underlying physical causes as well. The next step should be to schedule a visit with your family’s physician.
3. Tying in with the second step, you should further find out more information about your family’s medical history. Do the symptoms your child is facing now match those of another family member suffering at another time? There may be a connection, which shouldn’t be ignored.
4. Once physical concerns have been dealt with, depression may still be caused by psychological issues. The next person to visit would be a psychologist, preferably one who specializes in adolescent psychology.
5. The last step is one which should be observed from the beginning of this process. Be sure to keep private medical information to yourself and your teenager. This is not the type of thing to share around the office, or even with extended family members. Making a spectacle of your child’s potentially serious condition could only make it that much harder for them to deal with effectively.

The numbers on depression in teenagers are already in; according to the Surgeon General, about 20% of teens will face serious depression before they reach adulthood. That’s not just a little lull in a normally active child – it could manifest in a number of ways.

The most important thing is to not make your teenager feel like he or she is isolated. Make yourself available to help them when needed and get them to those appointments, physicals and other meetings if they are unable to drive on their own.

Though few teenagers who are actually suffering from depression actually manage to seek help and talk to someone about what they’re feeling, as many as 80% of those suffering the symptoms of depression could be getting the help they need if they would just reach out for it. Creating a positive support network at home can only help your child to overcome their depression.

photo credit: Ashley Rose

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What You Should Know About Youth Homelessness

What You Should Know About Youth Homelessness

Youth homelessness is not a small problem. In fact, as the population of the United States booms, more single parents than ever are trying to raise children and even homes with two parents still aren’t perfect – nothing is perfect. Although experts widely disagree over exactly how many of our children under 18 are living on the street, that’s only because it’s just so hard to identify and keep an accurate count of the amount.

Many older children who feel they can manage on their own will lie about their homelessness to avoid authorities getting involved with their struggle. It is a source of great embarrassment to most children, high school aged and younger, who feel like the situation they’re in is their fault and that they must be very different from their peers, who aren’t homeless.

One US agency still tries to keep track of how many underage children are living on the street. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency came up with a figure between 1.6 and 1.7 million homeless youth in late December of 2013, a number which has very likely only continued to rise since then.

Most of those who either run away from home or are thrown out by their families are between the ages of 15 and 17, with an eerily even number of males and females both trying to make it on their own in a very dangerous living situation. Nearly 35% of these are African Americans and more than half who were surveyed claimed to be members of the LGBT community. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are especially vulnerable to homelessness because of how many are rejected by their families and communities.

Perhaps some of these homeless children may be sleeping in shelters, or with friends, but many of them are still out on the streets or spending lonely nights in abandoned buildings, never knowing any real sense of safety. As one might guess, living like this has a very bad effect on a child’s likelihood to graduate from high school, as well as a negative impact on their criminal records. Many receive tickets for trespassing, loitering and other petty crimes, tickets and records which will follow them well into adulthood.

Child homelessness is so bad now that in some places, children are competing for cots in shelters just like their adult homeless counterparts. In fact, the National Runaway Safeline, a calling service for children without shelter, says they’ve seen more than a 25% increase in calls since 2009 alone. If that number doesn’t shock you, then I think it should – those aren’t somebody else’s kids, but your neighbor’s children, your relative’s children, maybe even your children in the case of some readers.

Sometimes, child homelessness isn’t really the fault of the child or the parents. Economic conditions can have an impact on family relations, as anyone who lives with someone who has lost a job most certainly knows. The United States is just now starting to recover from a major recession, which did damage to plenty of retirement accounts and bankrupted many companies, leading to just as many people losing their savings.

Because the problem is getting worse, more and more children aren’t receiving the help they desperately need to cure their homelessness – there are just too many mouths to feed, as the saying goes. I have been turned down for credit cards and other offers before, but I can’t imagine what it must be like to realize that there’s no room for you in the one place you can think you can go when your family won’t have anything to do with you.

photo credit: Elvert Barnes

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How to Help Your Kids Develop Talents

How to Help Your Kids Develop Talents

Everyone is good at something, it seems. Even if your child isn’t a star quarterback, the brightest kid in his class or the fastest girl running track, they are bound to be good at some other things they might really enjoy. As a parent, it is your job to help your children find their talents and then develop those talents.

Learning how to throw and catch a ball is about a lot more than just developing hand eye coordination (though that’s certainly a fine benefit). It is about helping your child to find that feeling that they are good at something; that there is something they can do and do well. Building confidence like this is only good for a young person’s self-image, which is constantly changing based on the feedback they’re getting from the world around them.

In my opinion, these few tips could really help you to find what activities your child shines at, as well as help them to discover those things in life which really give them joy.

> > > Many kids will grumble about being forced into extracurricular activities, but these are actually a good way to keep your children out of trouble after school, as well as give them opportunities to find things they are good at and enjoy doing. Children crave structure, and this is a good way to provide it.

> > > Though you may be suffering from a bias of your own, it is important not to let that get in the way of praising your child for a job well done. Even if their talents are less obvious, you should still try to make a point of praising good behaviour, like caring for animals well or solving conflicts without resorting to violence.

> > > Remember, everyone is good at something, but nobody is good at everything. If you can, avoid comparing the unique gifts of your child to those of another person with phrases like, “Why can’t you be more like _____?” Were you good at every single thing you ever did? I think not.

> > > Create opportunities for your child to contribute using their natural talents. Don’t you enjoy receiving recognition when you do well at work, at home or elsewhere? Well, youth crave that recognition even more than adults, and giving them a positive way to fit in and feel good about their knowledge and skills is the kind of thing parents need to do.

> > > While giving your young children a boost in confidence, it is important to measure that and ensure it doesn’t become conceit. Teaching the difference between creating a positive self-image and being a selfish, demanding and haughty child is just as important as helping your children to feel good about themselves.Remember, though we may all share over 90% of the same genes, we all come from different backgrounds, living through different experiences and coming to different conclusions about the world around us. Nobody is perfect and that’s a fact.

In high school and even as early as middle school for some students, decisions will begin to have lasting impacts, with some creating consequences with which your youth will have to live for the rest of their lives. Discovering and helping to develop your child’s talents will effectively tell them who they are – they won’t need to seek as much approval from outside groups or peers to feel good about themselves, which is an attitude we all know can be at the root of many undesirable situations.

photo credit: William Cho

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How to Prevent Violence at Schools

How to Prevent Violence at Schools

Schools are supposed to be safe places for students and teachers, where the young can learn something about the world from the old who have studied and lived in it since before they were born. It pains me that violence in schools, which was once caused only by the most extremely disturbed in the past, has now become painfully commonplace. As our students evolve, we too need to evolve in terms of how we deal with them and stop them from becoming a danger to themselves or those around them.

Be Seen, Be Heard

As far as most teachers are concerned, what happens in an educator’s classroom is more or less the responsibility of that educator. While many teachers get involved with students during normal class hours, not so many are willing to extend that support outside of the classroom. Just by maintaining a presence, you can help deter violence, bullying and other events; be seen in hallways, cafeterias and other parts of your school where there is typically a lot of traffic between classes. If you see something wrong then speak up! You are more often than not going to be the only adult available, so you must step up.

Listen

Just like you should be seen and heard by students in and out of class, I think it is important for teachers everywhere to pay more attention during idle moments in class. Prior to the awful event at Columbine (as well as several other schools, actually), other students knew that something was being planned. It may not come up during conversations in class, but if it does, then you’ll be in a better position to stop violence before it starts with the knowledge you pick up just from listening to your students’ conversations.

Know the Red Flags

Educating yourself on the telltale signs a student is planning something violent can be instrumental in stopping those plans from ever coming to fruition. While I don’t think that any single one of these is necessarily a sign that a particular student is about to have an episode, I can’t discount that many violent students have exhibited several of these symptoms simultaneously. Watch out for the following in and out of your classroom:

> > > Lasting depression and sudden mood swings are just part of growing up in a developing body riddled with hormones, but they might also be signs a student is in a bad spot.

> > > An inability to manage their anger is almost always a good sign that a student may be capable of some especially violent feats.

> > > Violent actions to class pets and other animals should always be taken seriously. It is widely accepted that this is one of three strong signs that interpersonal violence could occur.

> > > Bringing weapons to school is always a bad thing and one which should be dealt with immediately. What starts out as a pocket knife one day could graduate into a gun or other weapon as a student’s depression, anxiety or other issues progress.

One of the best ways to deal with several of these symptoms at once is to teach your students better ways to resolve conflicts without the use of violence. Getting a Peer Mediation club started in your school could be a good way to get level-headed students to help out too. Likewise, it’s typically a good idea to get parents involved when a student begins acting suspect. Don’t ignore the warning signs and be proactive.

photo credit: flickrnumi

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Why Girls Should Devote Themselves in Sports

Why Girls Should Devote Themselves in Sports

Playing sports and getting exercise is important everyone—young or old, girl or boy. Exercise and having fun outdoors while playing sports comes with a lot advantages. Unfortunately, young girls do not seem to play enough sports and are deprived of getting those benefits. So to motivate you to get the girls in your life into sports, here are some of the benefits of playing sports for girls.

  • Better Grades: if you thought sports was going to take away from important study time and cause girls to lose focus, think again. Playing sports has actually been shown to improve academic performance! That’s because exercise is not just good for the body. It’s good for the brain, too. IT boosts memory, concentration, and helps with learning process.
  • Build Life Skills: sports help girls develop the important skills they need in life. Those skills include working in a team and setting goals. Both of these skills will be essential as girls grow older and work to succeed in the future they have always dreamed of having. The reason sports help build these skills is because while playing, girls have to work as a team with the other players as well as their coaches and trainers. They work together to achieve a common goal: winning the game. The skills needed to accomplish this in sports can easily be carried over into to everyday life!
  • Stay Healthy: not only do sports keep you in shape and active, it can prevent all kinds of long term illnesses and motivate girls to lead a healthier lifestyle. Girls who play sports are less likely to start smoking and later on, lower their risk for various kinds of cancers and diseases that tend to affect people when they get older.
  • Boost Self Esteem: sports help girls boost confidence. It gives them something they can work on and get better at and also something they can show off to others. Team sports also help girls make new friends that they can grow close to and turn to for support. As mentioned earlier, sports also help keep girls in shape and healthy. In that way, playing sports helps girls feel better about themselves, more confident in their own appearance, and more secure in the bonds they form with others.
  • Lower Stress: You may think girls don’t have so much to be stressed about just yet but that’s not true. Growing up can be very stressful for a lot of reasons—from peer pressure to the pressure of keeping your grades up. The chemicals released in the brain while playing sports help to reduce stress and make girls feel happier. And since stressful things are easy to manage when you don’t feel overwhelmed by the stress, this change in mood can make all the difference in whether girls learn to handle stressful situations maturely or not.

Now that you know how important sports are to growing girls, it’s time you look into making sure that you have everything you need. Playing sports requires a lot of energy and nutrients to keep the body functioning well. Since getting all the nutrients you need can be difficult during the day, protein powders like Fitmiss and BSN which were designed especially for women can help ensure you get everything you need!

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Preventing Aggression in Children With the Help of Fitness

Preventing Aggression in Children With the Help of Fitness

Empathizing with young people is key to helping them. As a violence preventer I understand that children really need to let off steam is very important for navigating the spectrum of childhood aggression which sometimes quickly becomes crippling depression. I have only needed the most basic fitness equipment for some of the activities I have found to be beneficial but I have proved that fitness is equally important for children as well as adults.

Children being natural learners readily take to some of the instructions I can easily download in the Crossfit training guide. Taking their weekend training also qualifies/d me to help more children as possible prevent aggression. Research shows that exercise is vital for healthy children and they readily learn that they do not need to be violent to achieve the same calmness that drugs provide for many. How does fitness training help prevent aggression in children?

My regular students respond better and their exercise-toned bodies give better violence prevention results. Instead of taking it out their anger on another person, they are learning to use their fitness equipment as a means to many ends-  getting fit, staying active and avoiding a need to aggressively handle a bad situation. I have no doubt that catching them young is the way to go! They have no bottled emotions exploding to destructive heights as their regular fitness training tailored to the guidelines I have learnt in my CrossFit training guide and related materials consistently keeps them in needed equilibrium.

So, what fitness equipment do you need? Do you also need the Crossfit training guide to help your child avoid the pitfall of aggressive behavior? If these questions are running through your mind, then you are poised for achieving the aim which is preventing aggression in children.

Even if the questions are new to you, the assurance that taking a session of fitness training will vastly improve the options you have and help that little child stay fit body, mind and soul should be enough.

In schools, teachers have their hands full and need all the help they can get. Whether you are a parent or not, loving children and helping them start right should be our mutual goal. Picking up basic fitness equipment such as … and making the children participate in your learned CrossFit training guide induced exercises may just be the key to saving at least one kid in your community.

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Affects of Physical Activity on Academic Performance

Affects of Physical Activity on Academic Performance

Graduation rates in the United States are lower than they have ever been and more students from every grade level and group are all struggling to get a passing grade. This problem isn’t because today’s students are lazy, or lack motivation, or are underachievers. The real problem is the adults. Removing physical fitness programs and leaving students to sit for hours on end in school is having a seriously negative effect on student performance levels.

There are too many studies regarding the affects of physical activity on academic performance to list them all here, but the results keep coming back the same – not only does physical activity during the school day increase performance, but it also helps to cut down on child obesity rates and the problems which arise from obesity.

Though various schools, colleges and other educational institutions have research backing claims that physical activity enhances academic performance, even the CDC has something to say on the matter. According to the government agency, getting active leads to improvements in the class room, which include, “enhanced concentration and attention as well as classroom behavior.”

Sadly, while there is much evidence supporting the claim that physical activity is good for students of all ages, physical education programs continue to have funding reduced or removed altogether. This leads to students who are sedentary in school, except for those brief moments where they’re moving through halls between classes. That’s just not enough.

Even without taking the time to personally thumb through the various studies and their results, it’s plain to see how physical activity can be helpful. Increasing circulation by jumping, running, stretching, throwing and performing other physical tasks leads to increased oxygen levels in the brain. This invariably leads to ramped up production of the various neurotransmitters that carry signals and information throughout the brain.

The difference in performance levels may not be immediately apparent, but one thing is for sure. Kids need physical activity, and they need it every day, just like older people. School administrators need to stop putting physical education on the backburner and make it a part of the everyday experience. According to an essay produced by Columbia University, “There is currently no evidence indicating that this strategy is, in fact, effective in increasing standardized test scores.” This same essay goes on to further explain how increased physical activity has a neutral effect on academic performance at the worst.

I know that as parents, you want what’s best for your children. That’s why I think it would be a good idea to get them enrolled in some physical fitness experience outside of school. Self-defense classes are a great way to take care of this and many other issues all at once. The world can be a cruel place, so helping your students to build confidence and character is very important. I think that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a solid option for kids because it gets kids active, builds relationships and teaches useful life skills to young people. Check out BJJMonsters for more info on brazilian jiu jitsu.

photo credit: Kenny Holston

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How Parents Fight For Medical Marijuana For Their Children

How Parents Fight For Medical Marijuana For Their Children

I work as a violence preventionist in a local school and a majority of my work involves helping students prevent violence among themselves at the school and towards others in the community. Some of the kids I help come from broken homes where there is child abuse, sexual abuse, alcoholism on the part of the parents, and insecurities that most teens face. In this blog post I want to talk about how in my state of Colorado a few parents of the kids I work are fighting to get medical marijuana for their children.

One Parent’s Story

The other day I sat with a student and her father in their home and they showed me their indoor garden where they use the best LED lights for marijuana to grow the crops. The father mentioned that he benefits from medical marijuana for his arthritis while the student likes to use it to help him control his mood swings whenever he falls into a depression. The father I spoke with said that he has had tough battles with his son’s pediatrician and psychologist concerning the teen’s use of medical marijuana because they feel that the teen loses his cognitive skills. As of now the doctors have not prescribed the medical marijuana.

Children, Epilepsy and Medical Marijuana

Another parent of a kid I work with said that the kid suffers from epilepsy but once he takes medical marijuana, his seizures are less frequent. In Colorado you’ll find a kind of marijuana callred Charlotte’s Web and this marijuana is helpful in relieving epilepsy symptoms. This parent stated that his doctor is on the fence about the kid’s use of medical marijuana for this purpose. According to a recent article in Denver Post, while there have been similar results for other children with seizures, some doctors in Colorado are still not convinced that marijuana can relieve epilepsy symptoms.

Parents in Other States Are Lobbying For Marijuana Legalization

I live in Colorado and we now have legalization of marijuana which benefits many of the kids I help as a violence prevention specialist but for parents in other states, they’re fighting to have their states’ marijuana laws changed. For example, in Pennsylvania parents and veterans are currently battling lawmakers in that state to make marijuana distribution legal so that their children can get relief from different mental disorders and physical illnesses. In light of battles like these, more parents are relocating to Colorado out of a sense of concern for their children.

Conclusion

I recently talked with a student’s parent who was using advanced grow lights to plant the marijuana in the basement garden, and the parent explained that since this student used marijuana on a regular basis, he’s a lot more relaxed and is less prone to rage whenever he is depressed or frustrated with problems at school. This is one reason why more parents are seeking marijuana legalization for their children’s well being.

Photo Credit: Mark

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Benefits of Being Educated

Benefits of Being EducatedI know it’s said all the time, but the benefits of a good education cannot be overstated. It goes beyond getting a great job (which that is certainly reason enough). Education is crucial to almost every aspect of having a fulfilling and enjoyable life. It’s a topic that I’m so passionate about that I have decided to dedicate a post about a few of the many rewards of a quality education.

A Better Social Life

I’m going to put it bluntly: an uneducated person sticks out in an educated society like a sore thumb. Education allows you to blend with your environment, to engage in a conversation no matter the topic. Are the friends you’re with discussing politics? If you’re educated on the subject you can join right in. Same goes for almost any topic you can think of. Simply put, the more you know, the better you’re going to do in almost any social circle.

 Education Benefits Your Culture, Society, and Nation

Ok, so even if you aren’t the most patriotic person in the world, you still have a lot to gain from seeing your nation and culture prosper. Going out and getting an education that will allow you to make innovations in technology, masterpieces of art and literature, or perhaps qualify you to educate others who will go out and do the same. Whatever your calling, a quality education will equip you to go out and make a difference in your community and in your nation as a whole.

Another benefit along these lines is that an education helps break stereotypes. Is your race, community or culture wrongly stereotyped for being uneducated? What better way to defeat this stereotype than to go out and prove everyone wrong.

Education Promotes a Violence-Free, Crime-Free Lifestyle

Without education, you have little opportunity, and little opportunity causes people to do desperate things. This is a vicious cycle that we have known about for a long time. In my work, I’ve seen it over and over; very rarely is it the grade A students who are getting into fights in the school halls or who are doing drugs. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule, education prevents this type of activity.

Career Possibilities

I saved this one for last because it is the most known benefit of higher education. Still, there are so many career benefits that are overlooked. The world as a whole is moving rapidly towards a technology dominated society and economy. In order to get a good job in this morphing world, education is a must. Some of the highest paid and highest potential jobs are IT related, including software engineers (which are responsible for designing, developing, and installing software solutions), project managers, (which see that IT projects are quickly and efficiently accomplished) and data center architects professionals (which are responsible for data center design, construction and consultation). Simply put, these and many other great jobs in the world today require at least a bachelor’s degree. If you want to enjoy a fulfilling, well-paying job, stick to the books.

photo credit: opensource.com

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