High school decisions can be everlasting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 6, 2001

Decisions made during high school can literally make or break you.

Career choices, such as where you go to school and what type of degree or certification to pursue, determine how much money you will make and the type of lifestyle you will enjoy.

When comparing the average annual income of dropouts, who are at least age 25 to the annual income of high school graduates in the same age bracket, the wage gap is almost doubled.

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In recent years, the difference between annual wages earned by ninth grade dropouts and high school graduates was 48 percent.

High school graduates earned an average of $20,968 annually compared to those dropouts who earned $10,838.

Those who remained in school longer, but failed to get a diploma or GED earned a little more than $13,600.

The difference between male and female graduates and dropouts is even more dramatic.

Females who drop out of school in the ninth grade or earlier can expect to make only 56% as much as their male counterparts.

For these young women, their average earning power is either below or near the poverty level of $8,501 for a ingle person.

Earning potential increases proportionally with educational attainment most of the time.

The average annual income for a person with a four-year degree is about 1.8 times more than that of a high school graduate.

If you assume a modest $5 inflation rate, the difference in earnings betweet a person with a college degree and a person with a high school diploma onver a 30-year work life will amount to more than a million dollars.

If college graduates simply saved the difference between what they earn as a result of their degree and what they would have earned if they had stopped their education after high school, they would save over a million dollars by the time they retire.

If they invested this difference, they could easily have several million dollars in their portfolio at retirement.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work in agriculture and home economics.

Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, and other related acts, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) offers educational programs, materials, and equal opportunity employment to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.