Dropouts: Less money, less hope

Posted on November 08 2007

More teens than ever quit high school; future doesn’t bode well for most

By Josh Perkins, Class of 2009
SpiderWorld Online
Concord (NC) High School

POSTED: Oct. 26, 2007

Did you know that about 2,500 American high school students drop out every day? Did you know someone with a high school diploma will make about $10,000 more per year than someone without a diploma?

When students think about how easy it would be to drop out, they should also think about how much money they will be losing over their lifetime. For instance, a student who quits at 16 and works until 60 will make about $440,000 less than a typical high school graduate, according to government studies.

“Dropping out was the worst thing I have ever done,” said Lauren Gay, 18, who quit high school in Tennessee when she was a junior. “All I did was put myself in debt and in trouble with my family. Being only 18 years old with a job and tons of bills isn’t that easy. I should be going off to college and be doing something in life, but every day I have to wake up and go to work. I have no car and always have to depend on people to take me places.”

Many students drop out because they don’t like the school or teachers, or they struggle with other life developments (such as pregnancy or injury).

According to a report on abcnews.com, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006 said the average annual income of a high school dropout was $20,100, while a person with a high school diploma averaged $29,700; that’s a difference of $9,600 a year. However, a 2006 report from the Manhattan Institute said the median (or most common) income for dropouts was only $15,334. Dropouts also have worse health care coverage (if any at all).

A recent study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing to graduate in the nation's largest 100 public school districts.
The dropout rate has grown each year. Nearly 1 in 3 high school students in the Class of 2006 were not expected to graduate on time, the Editorial Projects in Education (EDE) Research Center reported last year. Dropout rates are about the same for males and females, but the rates are not the same for students from different ethnic groups or different income levels. In general, rates are higher for minority students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Don’t be fooled by those who drop out of school then go on to make millions (certain celebrities or athletes, for instance). These people are the exception because they have marketable skills. Few high school dropouts can say that about themselves.
However, for those who do drop out and don’t want to return to high school, there are alternatives to a traditional diploma.

Keep this in mind: A GED does not carry the same weight as a traditional diploma, so don’t consider this to be an easy alternative to four years of high school.

So, make the choice to [return to] school, make your life better, and make more money. Or you can work a series of lousy jobs all your life and struggle to make ends meet.