42-year-old actor Mark Wahlberg recently earned the equivalent of his high school diploma. What some see as a common milestone reached during the late teen years is viewed by others as an extremely challenging hurdle. For an increasing number of adults in the United States, obtaining this coveted certificate potentially adds dollar signs to a family’s bottom line.
As many as 40,000 adults in the United States do not have a high school diploma.
While some are content without it, more and more adults are seeking ways take and pass their General Educational Development (GED) tests – the equivalent to possessing a high school diploma. The social stigma of being labeled a “drop out” may put pressure on some. Being relegated to certain jobs may be the catalyst for others.
Dollars and cents motivates many.
Wahlberg, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade, counts himself among the fortunate few who have succeeded professionally, socially, and monetarily without a high school diploma. Self-motivation and opportunity has provided avenues for his success. Still, he invested the time to successfully pass his GED tests, and continues to preach the value of his efforts to others.
For many, their efforts will pay off in the form of a fatter paycheck.
Over a lifetime of employment, workers without a diploma earn, on average, close to $200 thousand less than their high school graduate co-workers. That is about $8,000 every year spent in the workforce.
That amount translates into mortgages, car payments, and college educations. Extra monthly cash can be used to better the lives of families and boost self esteem.
Elementary and high school education is part of everyday American life. Public school education is increasingly readily and easily available to children. Communities spends huge quantities of resources and manpower to support education and insure that some educational opportunity is available, and try to insure that the system is easy to use.
As children move from pre-teen to teenagers, the broad spectrum of a full high school education provides the templates and tools necessary to be functional in the workforce and society. Book smarts and life skills are taught. When the time is put in, and the standards are met, a diploma is issued.
Every year, increasing numbers of students make the decision to leave school before earning that diploma. Some, like Wahlberg, barely start their high school education.
Reasons for dropping out vary.
Chronic absenteeism starting as early as kindergarten can create an educational deficit that may seem impossible to overcome. Lack of supervision and discipline at home encourages neglect of assignments and studies. It is when this cycle continues, year after year, that achievement drops, self-esteem plummets, and motivation wanes.
Discouraged and unable to regain ground, teens drop out of school.
Another cycle then begins. Wahlberg encourages adults without high school diplomas to break this cycle.
The National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy found that high school dropouts who earn the equivalent of the high school diploma, the GED, will increase their earning potential during their working years. That places dollars into the pockets of families and the economy.
By: Jennifer Knickman
The Daily Journal