I’ve been tapped to produce the first episode of our new teen talk show, ¿What’s Good, D.C.?, and we’ll be talking about the dropout rate. It’s kind of amazing the things you learn during preliminary research with things like this. I got in touch with the communications director of the Alliance for Excellent Education, and he wrote me back an email with some stats that could shock some reality back into high school dropouts…
[Your student audience] also may be interested in the average annual incomes for individuals based on educational attainment. In the Washington, DC area, those incomes are as follows:
High school dropout: $19,909
High school graduate: $29,288
Associate’s degree: $41,507
Bachelor’s degree: $58,214
Pretty staggering differences, and I can say pretty confidently that even $60k per year isn’t a particularly high number in this metro area. We live in an expensive city.
So far we’ve interviewed about 20 students or so, and I find it disturbing how many say dropping out has crossed their minds. I work with bright kids who have a lot of natural curiosity, but success is sometimes as stressful as the prospect of failure. In fact, for some kids I’m sure that since they’re surrounded by kids who aren’t trying, they feel additional pressure to show that kids like them-urban kids, kids of color, kids from Anacostia and Columbia Heights, kids from immigrant families-have what it takes to make it.
But what everybody fails to sometimes remember is that once you’re through with all the awkward social interactions, draconian rules, occasionally uncaring teachers, high school stops mattering. You get out into the real world, you get out into college, and you start to realize: life is really awesome now that you’ve achieved, you’re earning some decent cash, and if you’re lucky, you can find a job you enjoy.
Time to graduate and thrive, rather than drop out and get by.