The lack of academic success for many students becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy deterring them from pursuing certain majors in university and college. For example, a number of students who encounter difficulty with science and math in K-12 often resign themselves to that fate rather than overcoming their difficulties; these students are less likely to enter STEM programs in higher education. A similar gendered issue is found in fields like engineering, which has comparatively fewer women enrolled in degree programs as well as out in the practice.

The educational system in North America is built around the false dichotomy that some students are innately intelligent while others simply to not have the ability succeed. Each student has the potential to achieve high levels of applied and academic success; however, the barrier stopping many from realizing this is the proper motivation. The key to unlocking and discovering the potential in each student is in reforming the K-12 education system. This will be accomplished through computer and internet technology adapted to each student’s individual learning needs as well as increased personal motivation from teachers.

Providing students with the technology and flexibility to discover and learn at their own pace will unlock several doors for their future. However, it is important for students to have teachers who will motivate them and push them out of their comfort zone. For example, some students who are not interested in higher education may discover and nurture skills such as coding which can prepare them for a lucrative and rewarding career out of school.

Success and aptitude are not only signified by post-nominal credentials. Many employers are expecting candidates to provide certifications - not academic credentials - demonstrating an applied skillset, and this trend is expected to continue in the future.

A university degree is no longer the key to securing a successful job, yet many students grow up thinking it is the only path. Every student has the potential for success in a wide variety of fields; they just need to receive the proper motivation and education while growing up to help achieve them.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also board member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and contributes as a communications researcher with McMaster University.