Labor Day’s lateness played havoc with scheduling, but finally, Catholic, private and public schools are all back in session this week. Young students are looking no further ahead than this semester. Students in 11th and 12th grades, however, are beginning to look at their lives after high school.

Many seniors spent their summer visiting college campuses or soon will. Juniors are preparing to take their SAT exams this year. Family and friends, teachers and counselors will encourage these young people to make the right selection of college and perhaps their career of choice.

But what of those students who don’t see college in their future? Not everyone is cut out for higher education, just as not everyone seeks to work in an office. With all the good advice for teenagers, there ought to be a few words for careers that don’t begin with a four-year degree.

Construction tradesmen (and women), health care workers, technology specialists and many other fields employ people who are smart and skilled, but who don’t wish to earn a college degree. In our spanerse economy successful careers will always exist for bright people who aren’t afraid to work hard. In fact, options such as community college or specialized university programs offer supplemental training and cultural enrichment regardless of one’s chosen field.

Young people with the talent and desire for college should look at all their career options and educational paths. The same goes for those teens who have not yet made a decision on their future, one that holds the promise of a fulfilling career not begun in college.

One option that includes college but also transcends it is life as a consecrated religious man or woman. This edition of the CS&T presents snapshots of 265 such people who have responded to the call to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and made it their life’s work.

This work of sisters, brothers and religious priests spans what seems like every field of human endeavor and in every land in the world. It includes especially their ministry of prayer.

For every need there is a petition. For every blessing, small or great, there is a moment of thanks. Prayers for both are offered by the consecrated religious and diocesan clergy who answer God’s call to serve His people. These are vocations that young people need to consider, with help from their families and friends.