Having a high school diploma isn’t good enough to make it anymore, first lady Michelle Obama warned high school and college students at Howard University.

“No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough in today’s globalizing economy. You have got to go to college, or get some kind of professional training beyond college,” she said Thursday.

It was the first of what is likely to be many more speeches on education as the first family readies for retirement and takes up helping younger Americans, especially blacks get a leg up.

“One of the things that Barack and I are focusing on and will be focusing on for the rest of our lives, quite frankly, is making sure that young people understand the importance of an education. And that means education beyond high school,” she said.

A new Pew Research poll found that there was a big earnings gap between those with a high school degree and those with a college certificate. Pew said that those who only graduated high school earned 62 percent of a college graduate.

At Howard she was promoting the president’s goal of getting back to being the nation with the most college graduates in the world. “It’s called his North Star Goal,” said the first lady. “We were at the top years back, but now we’ve fallen very far behind the rest of the world.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.