Lisa Budinger, President & CEO of The Arizona College Scholarship Foundation, talks to Sonoran Living about preparing your child for success in college and career.

Higher education has never been more important to individual success, economic growth and global competitiveness than it is today.  In fact, it is estimated that 2/3 of the jobs of the future will require some form of college or other postsecondary education.  However, Arizona faces many challenges when it comes to ensuring that postsecondary education is a priority for all students.

A recent report by the Arizona Board of Regents shows a distinct connection between higher education and earning potential. Currently, only 52 percent of Arizona’s high school graduates pursue any form of higher education after graduating high school.  And of those who do pursue higher education, only 17 percent receive a bachelor’s degree within six years of graduating high school.

Lisa Budinger, President & CEO of the Arizona College Scholarship Foundation, says Arizona must raise expectations for our students. “As a state, we don’t have a college-going culture,” she says. “Our message to our kids needs to be: continuing your education is important and possible.”

Budinger says that creating a high expectations culture in the home, from your child’s youngest years, is key to putting him or her on the track to success in college and career. She encourages family discussion with younger children about careers and the kind of education a student will need to get different kinds of jobs. As your student gets older, ask specific questions to help them prepare. Ask them to identify their top three college choices , and review together specific requirements for admission. This way, they will better understand how the classes they take and how they perform will impact their future education.

There are many resources available to parents and students to help make sure you are on the right path. One example is the College and Career Planning Guide, created by Expect More Arizona and Northern Arizona University’s GEAR UP. The Guide is distributed to students throughout the state, and is available on Expect More Arizona’s web site for download and as an interactive tool. It’s never too early to ensure your child is prepared to succeed in college and a career.