What Are the Disadvantages of Dropping Out of High School?

by Barbie Carpenter

In 2008, 8 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds were high school dropouts, meaning they were not enrolled in school and had not earned a high school diploma or GED, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. These teenagers and young adults face a variety of burdens thanks to their decision to drop out of high school. Simply put, dropping out of high school is nothing but disadvantageous.

Fewer Job Opportunities

Teens who drop out of high school might be tired of the rigor and work associated with high school, but their options outside of the classroom remain limited. High school dropouts face fewer job opportunities than their peers who earn their diploma. Most entry-level jobs require at least a high school diploma, if not a college degree, which means dropouts will not be eligible to apply for most positions. Thus, the lack of a diploma results in limited career prospects, which can have a lifelong effect.

Decreased Pay

High school dropouts will experience lower pay throughout their careers, which can impact every facet of their life and well-being. In 2005, the average high school dropout brought in an annual salary just over $17,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. High school graduates earned $26,933, while individuals with associate degrees brought in $36,645. Employees who earned a bachelor's degree saw salaries that averaged $52,671. Thus, education pays -- and a lack of education has a severe financial impact on the life of a high school dropout.

Inability to Advance

Even if a high school dropout can find a job, her ability to advance in her career is limited thanks to her lack of education. Employers expect individuals in supervisory positions to hold advanced degrees, so the lack of the most basic degree -- a high school diploma -- can prevent the high school dropout from advancing in her career. Even if she is a good employee, her lack of education can impact her career prospects for the rest of her life.

Unemployment

High school dropouts face higher unemployment rates than their peers who earn their diploma. In 2010, just 53.9 percent of recent high school dropouts were working in the U.S. between October 2009 and 2010, compared to 76.6 percent of recent high school graduates who were not enrolled in college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate for recent high school dropouts in that same period was a startling 42.7 percent.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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