If you visit Facebook with any regularity you have likely seen many photos of recent college graduates and I’m sure there will be many more over the next couple of weeks.  Most have been posted by proud parents who in some cases are every bit as happy as their sons and daughters who have just graduated.  As someone once said to me, “When my daughter graduated it was like I got a $40,000 a year raise.”

Taking nothing away from soon-to-be high school graduates finishing your undergraduate or graduate school education with that diploma is something to celebrate.  This year’s grads are truly deserving of special recognition because they survived the challenges of going to college during the pandemic.  For a time they were cheated miserably, doing virtual study either on a very quiet campus or at home.  So much for social contact with friends and classmates and much of what does make college life so great went out the window.

For that reason many needed more than four years to earn their degree and it’s certainly understandable.  Plenty of kids decided to take a semester or year off, return home and even find a job.  Not all went back to school, especially if it was out of state as the drain of the pandemic was not easy to overcome.

Let’s face it, college is not for everyone nor should it have to be.  The cost has gotten out of control and it’s sickening to see some graduate with well over $100,000 in debt before they even enter the job market.  There are many professions where a degree is not necessary and some companies are re-thinking their policy on this.  However a college diploma is something that has value and has been earned, often through hard work and sacrifice.

To the class of 2023…I salute you on a job well done.  Now get to work so you can start paying your student loans back.

The 30 best rated schools in New Jersey

Here are the top 30 schools statewide, based on their 2021-2022 New Jersey School Performance Reports — involving scores for language arts, math and attendance. (For an explanation of how the state calculates the "accountability indicator scores" and overall rating for each school, see page 90 of this reference guide.)

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