Many of the jobs students graduating in the Payson High School class of 2007 will hold have yet to be created.
Because of this, "A solid educational foundation is essential to take advantage of the new economy," said Mary Wolf, project manager for the Arizona Academic Scholars (AAS) program.
Today's students will impact lives around the world, just as the 36,000 Medtronic's employees around the world impact a person on average every five seconds, said Bob Enderle, human resource director for Fortune 200 company, Medtronic, in the Valley. He is also a board member for the Arizona Business and Education Coalition.
"There are a lot of job opportunities out there you may not be aware of with companies you may not be aware of." Enderle said.
This generation will be entering a different economy than the one inhabited by their parents.
People are living longer. The wait to draw Social Security will probably increase, therefore the age at which people quit working will increase as well.
Telecommuting will become more prevalent. Workers will need the ability to adjust to constant and rapid technology changes.
"We are in a knowledge economy," Enderle told PHS students. "We are really talking about knowledge workers who are impacting organizations, organizations that are changing the way they do business, that are changing the way we communicate, that are changing the way we work."
Challenging courses help a young person become ready for these changes, he said. They are more important than grade point average when college admission offices look at incoming freshman applications.
At Payson High School, 54 sophomores, 63 juniors and 43 seniors are on a rigorous, advanced placement, academic path that includes four years of math, science and language classes.
Those are four years well spent, Wolf said. Even if students earn a B or C in those more difficult courses, it means they attempted more and worked harder than a student who aced the minimum requirements in each subject area.
Those who study hard in chemistry and physics courses, reap rewards over a lifetime characterized by higher wages.
Students who complete a 2-year degree will earn 35 percent more than those with a high school diploma and students who earn a bachelor's degree earn almost $1 million more over their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma, according to AAS.