Going to school may seem boring or overwhelming, but there are several benefits of finishing high school. In addition to economic and career advantages, you’ll feel rewarded for persevering and earning your diploma. Even if you don’t think that college is your next step, a high school diploma can lead to better jobs and the opportunity to apply to college at a later date.
1. Earn More Money
One of the benefits of a high school diploma is a higher earning potential. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that high school graduates earned an average of $192 more per week than people who didn’t graduate.
This adds up over a lifetime. The Social Security administration estimates that the lifetime earnings for men with high school diplomas is $1.5 million in comparison to $1.1 million for men who don’t earn a high school diploma.
2. Pave the Way to College or a Trade School
You may ask, “Why is a high school diploma important to my future?” Attaining your high school diploma is a necessary prerequisite to apply for college admission. You’ll also need a high school diploma to be eligible for federal financial aid. A college education will help you pursue a career that requires an advanced degree.
3. Enjoy More Job Options
One of the advantages of graduating from high school is increased employment opportunities. A Georgetown University report indicated that 36 percent of available jobs require a high school diploma. More specifically, by 2020, you can expect that 13 million jobs list a high school diploma as a minimum requirement as opposed to 7 million for people without one.
4. Importance of High School Graduation
High school can be fun or seem like a chore, but once you graduate, you’ll have the satisfaction that you completed your degree. A 2018 National Center for Education Statistics report indicated that 4.8 percent of high school students dropped out of school in 2016. One of the benefits of earning your high school diploma is knowing that you had the intelligence and work ethic to get across the finish line.
5. Experience Lower Unemployment
The importance of high school graduation is evident in the unemployment rates of high school graduates compared to those adults without a diploma. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma was 7.7 percent. The rate for high school graduates was 5.3 percent.
6. Gain Introspection About Yourself
High school classes are designed to give you a well-rounded education and to help you learn more about yourself. Even if you don’t plan to go to college, finishing your high school degree will help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. When you make a decision about your next steps, you can apply your high school learning to a career path that’s the best fit for you.
7. You Can Join the Military
If you’ve always dreamed of being a part of the armed services, a high school diploma is a plus. Some branches of the military will accept a GED, but 90 percent of people in the military have a high school degree. Tier 1 recruits must have a high school degree, and Tier 2 can have a GED. A handful of Tier 3 recruits is admitted without a degree, but this is rare.
8. Stay out of Trouble
The main reasons that students drop out of high school are academic, family or behavioral problems, pregnancy, drug use and gang involvement. The Georgia Department of Corrections reported that more than half of their inmates were high school dropouts. Dropping out of high school doesn’t guarantee that you’ll engage in wrongdoing, but a high school diploma will open doors to productive jobs and the opportunity to pursue your interests.
- PPEP TEC High Schools: The Importance of Earning a High School Diploma
- Penn Foster: Advantages of Having a High School Diploma
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections
- Social Security Administration: Education and Lifetime Earnings
- Georgetown University: Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020
- National Center for Education Statistics: Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Unemployment Rate 2.5 percent for College Grads, 7.7 Percent for High School Dropouts, January 2017
- Georgia Department of Corrections: Inmate Statistical Profile
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.