Graduating from high school is so essential to success in life. But most of us probably see this important passage as simply a preliminary step into college.
But what if a teen doesn't graduate? Well, I suspect we'd hope the young adult would have the moxie to get a GED, which I thought stood for General Equivalency Degree but which really stands for General Education Development. If a person passes the eight-hour test, it is considered the same as a high school diploma.
Unfortunately, it isn't. Nobel Prize winner James J. Heckman has done a study that shows only 31 percent then enroll in college, with most going to two-year colleges. There, 77 percent last just one semester and then drop out. They earn an average of $30,855 a year -- about the same as high school drop outs when various non-schooling related issues are taken into account, such as household background. Here's more information about this depressing situation.
Yes, high school graduation is a ticket that has to be punched. But it's far more than that. It's an indicator of future potential and opportunity that the GED can't grant -- at least as it works now.