April 30, 2014

Editorial: Stay in school; get that diploma

In recent years, educators and other authorities have warned high-school students that life without a college degree will be difficult, with fewer job opportunities, less personal satisfaction and far less money.

Just think what a struggle life would be without even a high-school diploma.

The U.S. Department of Education recently issued a report saying the percentage of high-school students earning diplomas has finally exceeded 80 percent. The department predicts that number will reach 90 percent by 2020.

That is good news, of course, especially after years of stagnation in that statistic. New York state, incidentally, scores lower, with 77 percent of students graduating four years after entering high school.

While the report reflects progress, most experts lament that it isn’t good enough. A young adult trying to achieve success and satisfaction in life without a high-school diploma will likely find an unsatisfying job, or no job at all, and poverty.

According to a Labor Department study, a young person with a high-school diploma can expect to earn an average of $554 a week — no bonanza, for sure. But a young person without a diploma can expect only $396.

It’s not only money that the young person will find in short supply. Authorities that someone going through life without a high-school diploma suffers from significant lack of self-esteem and self-satisfaction.

A person with only a high-school diploma is 22 percent more likely than a college graduate to live in what the government defines as poverty. If that is true for the high-school graduate, think of the chances for a non-graduate.

Most students these days at least consider college. Prospective students weigh the advantages against the disadvantages of investing the time and money in furthering their education.

A high-school graduate earns only 62 percent of what a college grad makes these days, according to the Pew Research Center. That is the widest gap in history. The college grad will make $17,500 more annually than a high-school graduate without a college degree.

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