Thursday, May 13, 2010

GED Is No Answer If Your Child Doesn't Finish High School

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.

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