In this report, the average annual salary in today's society for someone who did not graduate from high school is in the low $20,000 range. If someone's highest level of education is an associate's degree, they are averaging in the low $40,000 range. For someone with a bachelor's degree it is just under $60,000, and for someone with a professional degree (M.D., J.D.) it is over $100,000 a year.
What does this tell us? That education matters. The report discusses how the education level is the most important factor, by far, over any other--culture, race, and class. This is not to say other variables do not play a role--women make less than men, and Hispanic men and women make less than other cultural groups. However, it is the highest level of education attained that is the primary factor.
Thus, students dropping out of high school are being set up to have limited resources throughout their lives. To start, what can we do to help prevent students from dropping out?
In a May 2010 article in ASCA's School Counselor magazine entitled "Mission: A Drop in Dropouts," Robert Rothman discusses the components of a school-wide program to help prevent students from dropping out:
- Literacy Instruction: As school counselors, we can advocate for elective classes in literacy if your school does not already have them. In Fairfax County, there are several course offering for students to assist them with building reading and writing skills. These students receive elective credits for these courses that count towards their graduation requirements while helping them to build skills that will help them in their other required courses.
- Data Systems: In our work as school counselors we tend to have access to the data to identify students most at risk of dropping out--current and past grades, test scores, and attendance. After identifying those students we can then develop interventions--groups, individual counseling, family components--and track student progress, reviewing the data from time to time to determine how effective our programs are.
- Personalization: School counselors can play a key role in personalizing the school with at-risk students. By meeting with these students, checking up on them with their teachers and parents, and celebrating their successes, we are letting them know that someone cares about their academic success and thus their future. We are giving them at least one person in their school to trust, rely on, and connect with.
The following work-cited in this article is available for members at the American School Counselors Association website:
Rothman, R. (2010). Mission: A Drop in Dropouts. School Counselor (May 2010).