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Thinking About Dropping Out of High School? Think Again

Apr 21, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 2 Comments

Approximately 6.2 million people dropped out of high school in 2007 alone. In past decades, a fit, healthy young person could earn a decent wage even without a high school degree. Now, that’s demonstrably no longer true. In 1971, male dropouts who worked full time earned an average of $35,087. In 2000, that number shrank to 23,903. It’s clear that our economy is changing—and an education is no longer considered optional. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t drop out of high school.

You’ll be competing against high school and college grads all your life

Life is a competition. You’ll be competing for jobs your whole life, and your education is the only thing that gives you an edge when you’re young and don’t have much work experience. But even when you’re older, you’ll be competing against candidates who have degrees—for jobs, for promotions and for raises. Don’t set yourself at a disadvantage before you’ve even started a career.

Think school is tough now? Try going back as an adult






School isn’t always easy. But most teenagers don’t have to support themselves while they go to school. Once you’re out, you’ll have to get a job—and you’ll have to juggle school around that.  Don’t expect your employer to be sympathetic if you have to schedule shifts around classes or come in tired because you were up late studying the night before. If you have kids of your own, going back to school is even harder. Some people who drop out with only months to go before graduation take decades to earn their degree again. Get it done early, while you don’t have as many demands on your time.

Employers have their pick of candidates

Many employers will screen you out entirely because you have no degree—despite your experience. They’ll nearly always take someone with a high school degree over someone without, and often they’ll take someone with an Associate’s before that—even if the job doesn’t necessarily draw on skills you learn in high school or college. More and more, an education is becoming mandatory in our economy.

Your parents and friends won’t support you forever

If you’re living at home now or staying with friends, you may think there’ll always be someone to help you get by. But do you want to rely on others for the rest of your life, or be the one others can come to for help? Some teenage dropouts believe they’ll always be able to ask others for help when they need it, so they don’t need a degree and a well-paying job. But minimum wage isn’t enough to support basic needs in most areas of the country, and your parents and friends won’t always be able to help you support yourself. Once you get older, the kind of help you expected as a teenager will dry up and people will expect you to take care of yourself.

High school dropouts are the most vulnerable

Even when you get a job, your level of education may hold you back. As the least educated on your team, you could be among the first to go when your company needs to lay off employees. You will have a harder time moving forward in your career without a degree. And once you lose a job, it will be harder to get a new one. High school dropouts are definitely the most vulnerable to losing income and staying in low income brackets in our society.

Getting the GED might sound easy—after all, it’s just a test—but the test is supposed to reflect everything you learned in high school at the senior level. Many people take numerous tries to pass, and some don’t pass at all. You’ll have to demonstrate advanced knowledge of algebra, geometry and calculus, write an essay, and pass history, science and critical reading sections. It’s not easy to pass—and often the work you have to complete for a passing grade in high school is easier. Don’t count on alternative ways to get a high school education if you still have the opportunity to stay in school and graduate.



Rishona Campbell Over a year ago

Great article. However I do question the comment about the GED. My father and my boyfriend both got their GEDs. Both of them said it was relatively easy. Both of them are very intelligent though. And it does take some effort. But to say that the test is difficult, for people who do not have learning disabilities, would be a stretch I would think.

Ben Pfeiffer Over a year ago

You could be right but I guess it would depend on the level of learning disability. The more severe the more likely they would have trouble passing it. For example those learning disabilities that affect cognitive functions of the brain related to reasoning and problem solving could make that student have a poorer time passing the GED. The GED is created to give everyone an opportunity to pass it, so its not generally considered very difficult for most groups of people.

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