A person without a college career loses millions of dollars and this loss comes not only from the salary. In a medium-sized city, somewhere in the US, five St. Mercy Hospital employees went to the same public high school. It might seem that adults would all go the same way, but their trajectories were very different because of the decisions they made in high school.
The cleaning job at Mario’s part-time fast-food restaurant helped so much his family’s finances that his parents decided it would be best if he worked full-time – and dropped out of high school. A couple of years later, he found a better clean job at the hospital.
After five years of work and a promotion, he now earns $ 22,000 a year. Carlos graduated from high school the same year that Mario graduated. He has not worked in his profession – patient transportation as long as Mario, but already makes $ 27,900 a year.
The title of High School Technician by her classmate, Brianna, prepared her for her anesthesiologist technique, in which she earns $ 37,300 a year.
Continuing down the hall, we find her friend Mel, who has a career and obtained a diploma and earns $ 55,000 a year as a nutritionist.
Her friend Carmen just got her master’s degree in nursing and started her new job, with a salary of $ 85,000 a year.
Wage differences throughout life
While many people realize that professions like doctors and lawyers are only available to those who have spent many years in college, few people understand how much it costs to fail in school in real terms – at every step of the process. Jobs in an industry, such as in the field of medicine mentioned above, provide a graphic example of how this works.
Even within the same occupation, normally more education equals more money. According to a Georgetown University study, truck drivers who did not make it to high school earn less than $ 1.3 million over their lifetime, compared to $ 1.5 million for high school students. Primary and secondary school teachers who studied a career earned $ 1.8 over the course of their working lives, compared to $ 2.2 for those who earned a Master’s degree.
31 percent of African American students and 27 percent of Hispanic students do not finish high school, and this will cost them for the rest of their lives. Those who dropped out of high school earned an average of $ 24,000 a year – about $ 973,000 over the course of their life. With a high school diploma, students earn an average of $ 32,000 – about $ 330,000 more over a lifetime.
Those who graduated from high school see the same dilemma when compared to their peers who earned college degrees. In fact, the difference between the salaries of high school students and university graduates is even greater. According to US Census data from the Pew Research Center, in 2012 a 4-year college graduate earned, on average, $ 17,500 more than a high school graduate. Throughout life, there may be earnings differences of $ 1 to $ 4 million.
Clearly, without a college career, high school graduates are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be out of work, more likely to work half a day rather than full days and therefore are less likely to make a profit Such as health care at work. In the end, this has long-term effects that go beyond payroll. The quality of health, nutrition, child care and education services is lower for those who earn less money. People with less education are unlikely to be able to buy a home (which increases social capital), create a long-term savings plan, or even set aside money for emergencies or retirement. And those without a high school degree face more difficulties.
Although college is a path to a better life and (literally) richer, those who have been affected by this academic achievement gap often face more financial problems if they enter college. As many low-income students go to schools that do not require rigorous college preparatory courses, even some of the most promising students, they realize they must spend their precious time (and money) on regularization classes. According to Strong American Schools, 41 percent of Hispanics and 42 percent of African-Americans need college reinforcement classes.
The university is not equivalent to winning the lottery
To make matters worse, more Hispanic and African-American college students graduate with greater debt than their white or Asian-American counterparts, many of whom leave college without debts.
With the increase in tuition fees, it is not surprising that a college career seems increasingly expensive and absurd. But in the long run, getting a higher education ends up more than compensating.
The problem is that many parents dismiss college too early as a possibility they can afford. As a result, they do not encourage their children to have big dreams. They are often indifferent about high school, and so their children do not attend more difficult classes that prepare them for college work. But the truth is that financial aid can cover most, if not all, college costs. In fact, some low-income students – especially those who get good grades – pay only a fraction of the average cost.
Put the kids on the way to college
So what should parents do that worry because their children are not on the right path to college?
- If your child is in elementary school, now is the time to focus on supporting your basic skills (reading, writing, and math) and developing your passion and curiosity. Equipped with curiosity and the ability to read and think, your child will become a lifelong student – which is crucial today for most careers.
- If your child is in middle school or high school, make sure you are receiving rigorous college preparatory courses. This may mean that you should inquire about the school in which you study. Ask the teacher or school principal if the classes your child attends are the most demanding – and whether they are designed to prepare students for college. Do not allow the school to miss your child. This may mean finding a different school or learning to propose initiatives to improve the school.
- Explain to your child the economic benefits of school success – not just to pursue a particular profession, but also to other areas of work-related life that interest you. Even if your child wants to be a musician or athlete, the fact is that academically educated musicians and athletes end up having the business, writing, and math skills necessary to successfully manage their professions.
- Finally, do not underestimate the power of your child’s dreams. Talk to him about college and make him consider it as an option you can imagine in your future. Several studies show that parents’ academic expectations have a tremendous effect on the academic success of their children. Even if you do not have diplomas or degrees (or even if you do not speak English) you can tell your child the importance of the school and motivate you to continue on the path to college.