It is a common understanding that education is the key to furthering an individual’s socioeconomic standing. Individuals can also improve their socioeconomic status in the entertainment business. However, individuals cannot assure socioeconomic improvement due to the volatile nature of the entertainment business. It is just as important for a poor white person to obtain advanced technical training or a college degree as it is for their poor African-American counterparts. While minorities have been disproportionately poorer than whites, there are still poor whites who need to escape poverty, and education is the surest key to escape their situation.

Advanced education is the best way to escape poverty, though entertainment is another way to make enough money to improve socioeconomic standing. It is not feasible for all those in the lower rungs of society to become singers and athletes as a means to end the cycle of poverty. Less than one percent of all high school athletes and singers make it to the professional level in their respective sport or musical field. This means there are still many who do not make it each year even if they miss the cut by the smallest of margins. Since only a select number of people can become professional entertainers, these stars should focus the spotlight on education, as this allows for more people to advance in society. This isn’t to say people should stop aspiring to become professional entertainers, but rather should come to understand an education is just as—if not more—important.

Advanced education is a surer way for poor Americans to escape poverty. There are many more jobs outside of entertainment and in some job sectors there aren’t enough people to fill all the jobs. To obtain these jobs, Americans in almost all cases need some form of higher education, even if this means an apprenticeship and advanced technical training to become an electrician, for example. This is a shift from generations ago where workers could work in factories with just a high school degree and make enough to live a comfortable life. This is no longer the case, as many jobs nowadays are considered be high-skill rather than low-skill. This means a high school diploma is no longer the golden standard for education. Instead, the standard has shifted up some to require apprentice training or some form of college degree. To highlight this change, it might help to change the attitudes about continuing education, making it seem not like a novelty, but rather as a necessity for a professional life.

For those fortunate enough to go to college, this system isn’t perfect either, even with the introduction of legislation helping underrepresented groups gain entrance into the college system. Unfortunately, this didn’t solve the issue around actually paying for college, especially for those of lower socioeconomic status. College prices have been steadily rising since the 1980s with no signs of slowing down and some elite colleges even charge upwards of $60,000 per year. Even with financial aid, many poor students cannot afford to go to college, or if they do, they take on exorbitant amounts of student debt. This hole in the system means people of lower socioeconomic groups cannot further themselves without risking wrecking themselves financially. This shouldn’t be the case, and there needs to be some way in which public colleges and universities have ways to pay for students. This could come in the form of federal legislation change to set money aside to help those who need financial aid, to a higher degree than what the Pell grants seem to be able to handle. Also, there are many technical programs that are very expensive. Students amass a great amount of debt when they enroll in some of these programs. All those who wish to continue their education or training should have the opportunity to do so even if this means they need some financial aid, without fear of taking on massive debt.

Continuing one’s education is the key to success, and yet for so many it is so far away. There has to be a system which allows for those who need it the most to access it. At the same time America has to shift the spotlight away from making it as a professional entertainer. The future is here and advanced education or training is the key to moving forward for everyone. At the end of the day education is the great equalizer and we can all agree a mind is a terrible thing to waste.