In the 2008–2009 school year, only 75.5 percent of would-be high school graduates earned a diploma, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES. Only 15 states had graduation rates of 80 percent or higher. This makes for a large pool of dropouts who will learn the hard way why a diploma is necessary for successful employment, income and quality of life.
Getting a Good Job
While college education can even more significantly impact job options, the jump in employment potential is major when you have a high school diploma. According to the American Academy educational services organization, 60 percent of skilled jobs require that candidates have a minimum of a high school diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicated that in 2012, unemployment was nearly 50 percent higher among the population without a diploma compared to those with a diploma.
Earning Better Income
Coinciding with better job options is the opportunity to make more money. Studies consistently show that higher education typically leads to higher incomes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics study from 2012, for instance, showed a nearly 39 percent difference in median earnings between dropouts and people with a high school diploma. Given the lifetime potential earnings differential, the time and effort required to earn a high school diploma seems extremely sensible. This is especially true for those who plan to support a family.
Personal and Societal Impact
The American Academy also noted that people who earn a high school diploma tend to have a higher level of self-esteem. This not only aids in career pursuits, but also has an effect on relationships and family leadership. High school diploma earners can provide a positive example for peers, children and others struggling with motivation to finish. Additionally, you typically need a high school diploma to gain admission to a college, where you can increase your knowledge and career opportunities. The more you know and earn, the more benefit you provide to society through taxes and community involvement and impact.
Enjoying a Quality of Life
Earning your diploma is a great defense mechanism against several negative effects on quality of life. People without a high school diploma often experience poorer overall health. In fact, a 2007 Centers for Disease Control article suggested the correlation between health and education was so strong that school dropouts should be a public health concern. Additionally, an October 2009 report from Northeastern University showed that high school dropouts are significantly more likely to land in jail. The study focused on Chicago residents and found that a significantly greater number of dropouts are incarcerated, compared to diploma earners and college graduates.
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- National Center for Education Statistics: Public High School Graduation Rates
- The American Academy: Why a High School Diploma Is Important
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Education Pays
- Northeastern University: The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School
- Centers for Disease Control: Reframing School Dropout as a Public Health Issue
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images