The 82 percent drop-out rate

The overall drop-out rate is 82 percent, writes Ronald Wolk in Teacher Magazine.

For every 100 students who enter 9th grade, 67 graduate from high school; 38 of these enter college; 26 are still enrolled after their sophomore year; and only 18 graduate with either an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years.

Without a degree or vocational training, most of the drop-outs aren’t well-prepared to earn a decent living.

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  1. Walter Wallis says:

    Would this suggest that college prep for everyone makes about as much sense as having all African-American boys on a professional athletic prep course?

  2. I can’t read this article. It wants me to ‘register’.

  3. I think the point is that ‘without some form of post-secondary education or vocational training’, the lack of an education will hold you back, given the actual value of a high school diploma these days.

    All the way up until say 1985, you could make a decent living working in trades w/out the benefit of even a high school diploma. There are very few places which will hire individuals to work in trades w/out (even for entry level training) a high school diploma, or a(n) associate’s degree.

  4. The 29 Percent that graduate from high school and don’t enter college cannot be considered dropouts… They may not be “ready for the real world,” but they’re not dropouts… I could make a strong case that all of those liberal arts graduates aren’t ready for the real world either, but they’re still not dropouts…

    And how does this study account for those entering vocational schools, or simply find somebody to train them in an apprenticeship role..?

    There’s nothing like twisting statistics in the efforts to reach a pre-determined conclusion…

    If the statistic is true, the 33 percent high school dropout rate is alarming enough… No need to inflate it with bogus claims…

  5. Sigivald says:

    What Zach said, and it seems to me that these stats also ignore people who don’t immediately go to college.

    Say, people who join the Army or the Peace Corps, etc. Given that a goodly number of people enlist with the idea of using GI Bill funding to go to school, it seems strange that they’re evidently excluded because they didn’t go to college immediately after graduation from high school.

    (Then again, I confess to not reading the article. I’m often willing to register for a website, if it’s easy and I’ll probably go there again, but I’m not filling out a giant full-page form to read an article on a site I am, in all probability, never going to visit again. Oh, well. In the long run it’s most likely a loss to them, like most registration systems are.)

  6. B Reilly says:

    Maybe if more of these students could enroll in courses like Jim Harrick Jr.’s Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball, the dropout rate would improve.

  7. I agree with Zach, even though I haven’t read the article. The number is just too high, and it supposes that a college degree is an absolute necessity. There are advantages (particularly in my line of work), but for the person who has a list of Network Certifications without a college degree, they aren’t hurting, whereas students with a Bachelors in Sociology/Psychology are (I speak from experience).
    As far as late starters, I didn’t start college until I was 21, got my degree in five years, and have a Masters now. Would I be counted as a drop out?

  8. Actually, Wolk is arguing for a campaign to increase the number of students who earn a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential of some kind, including a vocational certificate.

  9. I think most of us agree that the best way to improve these numbers is to improve the existing K-12 system… This would help in two ways:
    1) Reduce the number of high school dropouts, and
    2) Give those students that graduate and choose to enter college a better chance to succeed there…

    I’m not so convinced that everyone needs a certification to be successful… In my field (IT), I’ve seen plenty of certified people who are completely incompetent, and even more who are not certified, but are outstanding at what they do… (Granted, almost everyone has a bachelor’s degree…)

    Regardless of the goal, using garbage statistics to shock the reader only diminishes the author’s credibility…

  10. Before we talk too much about what this article advocates, we would do well to ask if we believe its numbers. I don’t.

    The high school dropout rate is hard to measure, for any number of reasons, but several other sources I consulted (see below) report rates in the vicinity of 12%, nowhere near the 33% rate he reports.

    As to college graduation … I can’t quite match his numbers there either, but they are not way off from what I find (except insofar as his high school dropout rate reporting may mislead even at the college level, by affecting the denominator).

    The real problem with his college number is that earning a college degree is not the same as preparing oneself for work at a decent job. Alternate routes include vocational training (schools or apprenticeships), the military, and possibly even informal, on-the-job training (I’d guess this is important for sales personnel, as an example). Any of these routes can leave one better equipped for work than an associate or BS degree with a major … we can all name some … that offers no particular work preparation.

    If, as Ms Jacobs says above, the author is advocating even some of these (“a vocational certificate”) as part of his strategy, then he should use numbers that reflect how much those very strategies are contributing today. THat he does not makes his college numbers weak evidence for the case he wants to present.

    Sources for info on high school dropout rates:

  11. Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.


  1. College Drop-Outs

    Joanne Jacobs sites an article from Teacher Magazine about college drop-out rate. There is perhaps more to think about than the teacher point of view. There are two books, linked on my sidebar, Free Agent Nation and The Rise of