It’s a Hard-Knock Life: The Disadvantages of Not Graduating from High School

Posted on December 06 2011

In today’s competitive world, survival has taken on new meaning. With the advancement of industry and technology, education has become one of the most influential contributors to an individual’s personal and economic success. Not graduating from high school may have very definite and deleterious effects to a person’s future and overall well-being and development, starkly limiting their ability to function in today’s economic market.

The truth of the matter is money runs the world right now. As unjust as it may seem, limited access to money seriously hampers an individual’s ability to live well in today’s world. A high school “dropout,” faces less positive economic prospects than an individual who completes high school and holds a diploma. Regardless of the reasons and circumstances surrounding leaving high school, many of which are very understandable, not graduating can fundamentally leave a gaping gap in your life that may take a long struggle to fill.

Take a look through several job ads and you will see that most advertised jobs require a high school diploma, severely limiting your options. Possession of a high school diploma gives several indications – that you have achieved a basic level of all around academic and practical ability (like literacy, computing skills, and ability to successfully complete tasks) and that you are a relatively dependable worker. Employers like to know this since they are spending money on you. High school is a program that requires continued commitment. It is like a job. You do the work consistently and you earn “money” (grades and achievements). Your high school diploma is like your first passport to the economic market.

When you think about what you would like to do with your life and what professions interest you, consider that many of these professions probably require specific training. You may need to go to college to get the merits you need. Your ability to enter the field of work that you are actually interested in may not be possible without a high school diploma, whether it is nursing, law, or working with computers. A large percentage of institutions that offer specific training in certain industries ask for a high school diploma. Without a diploma you may be subjected to further testing to prove your proficiency in required areas. And although most employers and colleges will accept a General Educational Development (GED) certificate as equivalent to a high school diploma, GED credentials still do not prove skills in certain subjects covered by high school courses. It is also worth considering that even jobs that do not require a diploma may require skills that you may typically gain in a high school setting, like learning how to use popular computer software.

Even if you get a job, without graduating high school, it is a fact of the market that your earning potential, on average, will be severely limited both immediately and long-term. Jobs tend to pay commensurate with experience and education, which is the obvious reason why a person with a PhD in a particular field will get a higher salary than someone with a Bachelor’s in the same field. Someone who does not graduate high school will earn less in an entry level job, than counterparts with a high school diploma. What this means immediately is that any job you get, you potentially will not earn as much as you can earn. What this means long-term is that, by not having the initial passport to further opportunities (further training, education, promotions or higher level jobs) it will be difficult to improve your earning potential over the years.

Your ability to advance will be significantly stunted without a diploma. Without any change in your educational experience the realities listed above remain the same even if you get a job. Unless it is a job in a specific niche in the market that pays you based on non-academic experience, skills or trade, you are still limited to that one small niche. A few of these niches may include mechanic work, housekeeping, factory seamstress work, delivery jobs and janitorial work and believe it or not, many companies seeking workers in these areas do look for employees holding high school diplomas! Unless you are okay working within a limited niche for the rest of your life, or your aunt owns a housekeeping business which affords you plenty of room for advancement, you will need a high school diploma to expand your options.

Many high schools offer a combination of opportunities, advisement, and personal assistance that can help a person navigate their life goals and interests. Much of this assistance can be difficult to find otherwise; you may have to search for them and there may not be any opportunities available in your community. Staying on track with your high school program can ensure you continued access to these opportunities as you mature and think about what you want to do with your life. Some examples of these include peer or mentoring programs; guidance and career counseling; academic tutoring; extracurricular clubs that are also learning experiences for certain skills and abilities; announcements and access to unique work experiences, scholarships, local and national competitions and distinguished programs. (It is important to note that many of these opportunities accessible to high school students often require active enrollment in school to be considered eligible).

You may not think hard enough about what it means to limit your own earning potential. It translates to almost every facet of your life. Limited earning potential affects your ability to obtain a nice phone, car, or house; travel; eat well; enjoy extracurricular activities, entertainment, and social activities; enroll in any activity program that interests you; pay bills and be independent; maintain good credit that will allow you the convenience of purchasing things on credit; and have something left over for rainy days or savings. In short almost everything that contributes to helping you live a relatively comfortable life is limited by your earning potential.

The impact on your health is another great consideration that may often go neglected. Physically, lower earning potential means less ability to take care of your health, whether this is access to food, taking preventative measures to health conditions, or taking care of already existing poor health or medical conditions. Psychologically, not finishing high school can have detrimental effects. It may affect your low esteem, so may your inability to secure a worthwhile job. The inability to earn money can create a vicious cycle of depression and limitation, barring so many other life opportunities that typically could make you feel better emotionally and bring greater success to your life.

Finally, leaving high school without graduating also has social costs. The larger economy suffers from a loss of skilled and productive laborers, and also bears a heavier burden in having to fund services that help the people who are in that net pool.

As you can see, the costs of not completing high school are expensive and long-term. Not graduating high school limits your ability to market yourself in a competitive economy, potentially limits your personal development and health, and also creates strains on society. The biggest detriment to leaving high school without earning a diploma is the limit it sets on your earning potential. In this world, how much you are able to make is what will determine your ability stay above a mediocre standard of living that affects everything from the holes in your clothes to learning experiences and your ability to manifest your heart’s desires.

The American Academy offers high school diploma opportunities for those who did not finish high school as well as those who feel, for whatever reason, that they cannot continue their high school course of study. An online high school offers great flexibility and self-paced learning. You also have a large variety of online courses to choose from. With these options available, do not let life obstacles put such a lasting burden on your education. Go and get your high school diploma!