6 Reasons Why You Should Care About High School Dropout Rates

The good news is that high school dropout rates are at an all-time low. The national average is 7 percent.

However, there are too many people who slip through the cracks, especially when you consider all the alternate options for finishing school that are available in this day and age. The dropout rate should be negligible.

Having too many high school dropouts is costly. Here are reasons why we should focus on reducing them even further:

  1. The dropout rates cost individuals a lot of money. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that dropouts bring in just $20,241 annually, which is $10,000 less than high school graduates and over $36,000 less than a person holding a bachelor’s degree. The poverty rate for dropouts is over twice as high as college grads, and the unemployment rate for dropouts is generally 4 percentage points higher than the national average. In the end, the lifetime earnings of high school dropouts are $260,000 LESS than peers who earn a diploma.
  2. The dropout rates cost our society a lot of money. The financial ramifications of dropping out of high school hurt more than the individual. It’s estimated that half of all Americans on public assistance are dropouts. If all of the dropouts from the class of 2011 had earned diplomas, the nation would benefit from an estimated $154 billion in income over their working lifetimes. Potentially feeding that number is the fact that young women who give up on high school are nine times more likely to be, or become, young single mothers. A study out of Northeastern University found that high school dropouts cost taxpayers $292,000 over the course of their lives.
  3. The rates are linked with heightened criminal activity and incarceration rates. It’s not just about the money though. Over 80 percent of the incarcerated population is high school dropouts – making this an issue that truly impacts every member of the community. Numbers are higher for dropouts of color; 22 percent of people jailed in the U.S. are black males who are high school dropouts. As a society, we are not just paying into public assistance programs for dropouts, but we are paying to protect ourselves against them through incarceration.

I wonder what these numbers would look like if we took the nearly $300K that taxpayers put in over the course of a dropout’s lifetime and deposited it into their K-12 learning upfront. If we invested that money, or even half of it, into efforts to enhance the learning experience and programs to prevent dropping out, what would that do to dropout, poverty and incarceration rates? Right now the process seems to be reactionary. What would it look like if more preventative actions were put in place?

  1. Those who don’t stay in school are not likely to value a career path over a job. Over 68 percent of high school graduates begin college coursework the following fall. Students who earn high school diplomas are that much more inspired to continue their academic journey and seek out a lifelong career match, not just clock hours at a “job” until retirement. The fulfillment people receive from a job they enjoy should not be underestimated. Studies have found that happier people are healthier and are even able to better fight off common illnesses like colds and the flu. Considering more time is spent working than in any other pursuit, job satisfaction plays a major role in overall happiness. The value of careers go beyond individual satisfaction, however. As a nation, everyone benefits from well-educated workers who earn a living in areas where they possess natural talent too.
  2. Staying in high school allows students to have valuable experiences. The childhood years go by so quickly and high school represents the last stage before adulthood. The social opportunities that high school provides are not duplicated anywhere else, with the exception of a college setting and high school dropouts miss out on both. What’s more, high school dropouts tend to get into more trouble than their in-school peers. The National Dropout Prevention Center reports that 82 percent of U.S. prisoners are high school dropouts. The life lessons found in the later years of high school are more valuable than they get credit for and the peer-level socialization is a vital part of late-childhood development.
  3. To help us value learning for its own sake. In our material society, it is difficult to explain the intangible value of things like intellectualism, particularly to young people. Until greater value is placed on obtaining knowledge for no other reason than to broaden individual and societal wisdom, students will continue to drop out of high school. After all, how can the economic importance of a high school diploma really be explained to children who have never had to earn their own living? Even those in dire socio-economic conditions do not have a grounded concept of what money means in quality of life and long-term happiness.

What’s interesting about high school dropout rates is how far the consequences can reach. It’s not just about someone not finishing school, nor is it even about that individual not making as much money as they could. It has economic and social ramifications for all of society.

Can you think of other reasons we should look for ways to increase high school graduation rates?

0 Replies to “6 Reasons Why You Should Care About High School Dropout Rates”

  1. I dropped out of high school years ago as a teenager before I was of the legal age. Everyone says that you’re supposed to regret it later. The truth is that I’m glad I dropped out, and I’m mad as hell that I was forced to go in the first place. I don’t mean to say that I’m rich. The truth is I’m totally broke, but I don’t care about that. The reason why I dropped out of school was because my school was trying to prepare me for a life where nothing mattered except for sex, money, popularity and other petty material things, and I didn’t want to squander my life pursuing such worthless distractions. I can not bear the thought of living my life for my own ends. All I have ever wanted to do is to serve some greater, nobler purpose. From what I have learned, the desire to serve a purpose greater than yourself is an ancient, primal instinct which evolved to help people of the same race better compete against people of different races. My school endlessly tried to bribe me with promises of all manner of frivolous material things: money, a good career, a nice house, a nice family … all things which meant nothing to me. In truth I was incensed that they thought I could be bribed with such worthless things. At the same time, under no circumstances would they allow me the one and only thing which would have made my life worth living: a deep and unwavering loyalty to my race. Despite their endless attempts to bribe me with everything else imaginable, they relentlessly tried to rob me of that one, all important thing, and it was the only thing I truly cared about. You can scarcely imagine how thankful I am to have escaped the school system. I am thankful to have escaped the school system because it helped me to escape the worthless, despicable life they were preparing me to live. I am terrified that if I had allowed myself to be educated by the public school system, they would have tricked me into squandering my life in pursuit of sex, money, friends, and other such worthless things, and I would never have found my sense of racial identity, which is the only thing truly important to me. I probably would have been tricked into marrying a Negress, a Chinawoman or something like that. Then when I did eventually discover what was truly important to me in life, it would have been too late and I would never have been able to recover it. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Negresses or Chinawomen per se, but they’re just not for me. The truth is I resent having been forced to attend school, I’m glad I dropped out, I wish I’d never gone in the first place, and I don’t ever want to go back. I don’t care what the consequences are. I simply can not accept the values of the modern American education system, nor can I accept the modern American lifestyle, and I’m sick of society’s constant attempts to force both upon me.

  2. but wouldn’t you think that instead of living on wellfare or struggling just to get by you would like to have career and make something of yourself ?And wouldn’t you think that it would have been a great feeling to at least walk across the stage and know that you worked hard to get that diploma you deserved?Cuz people tend to judge and tend to make fun of drop outs and i do feel it is wrong but then again you should think about what you did also like you could have made alot within the time you spent in school if you say wanted a career in medical or nursing you could have made at least 68,400 in just 3 years it may not seem alot but that money can take you places and if you where to tell anyone that story they would simply apply that you were just a lazy kid and most people would be quick to judge. People would assume that you were hooked on meds or drugs and that you had nothing going for you.Nearley 25% of students drop out of high school and nearly 84% graduate you could have done it.Mind over matter if you really put you mind to what you had to do in school you could have made it there is more than just pussy money and popularity and getting married and having a beautiful family its about what you make it out of life can be so beautiful but you got to work for it if you dont you will end up no where not knowing what to do and not knowing where your gonna sleep at night you will end up lost.You could have made it. But you didnt think of your future and what it could have been you thought of it as if i drop out life would be better.It might not affect you now but it will in your future if i were you i would go back to school and get your ged.Trust me it will be worth it i may not know what i am talking about but i have seen it with my mom and my nana and they have nothing going for them so far they have to save every penny because they have no money and no reason why they should what to work to get back on there feet i understand it might have been probably the best feeling to get outta school and just hang around but if you think about it its not all that bad you could have made something outta yourself but YOU chose not to…..

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