Drop Outs and Success

High school drop outs, who do not have strong basic life skills, generally earn far less than those with high school diplomas. Many are forced to take jobs that have no chance for growth or advancement and may have little hope for the future. The idea of ever achieving satisfying and enduring success can become nothing more than a dream.

Luckily, dreams are the first step in goal-setting. Lack of education is not an end to future success, but merely an obstacle to overcome. The reason for leaving school, along with reasons for not currently focusing on education, may all be valid. They are not, however, valid excuses for not being successful in the future. Leaving school does not mean settling for less success than more educated counterparts.

Start with a personal inventory, and create a personal plan for success. Build skills slowly, but deliberately. Even small changes can make a big difference in self-image and the perception of others. Success may not come easily, but with determination and persistence, it will happen.

Acknowledge and use your AREA of Control to the best of your ability to increase positive relationships.


Practical advice for overcoming a lack of education:

• If returning to high school is not an option, consider earning a GED. It may not increase earnings significantly, but it will show an employer that you value education and are determined to build a better future. Another advantage is that every goal you set and achieve builds self-confidence and the belief you can change your future.

• Consider taking courses at a local community college. Again, this shows initiative and determination. It is also a good way to increase your skills. Community colleges are less expensive than four-year colleges and offer a variety of options: Take one or two courses, obtain certification in a specific area, complete an associates degree that transfers to a four-year college. Most outreach counselors can also provide information on additional community resources.

• Job Corps can provide drop outs between 16 and 24 years of age with marketable skills training and help in obtaining a GED or high school diploma.

• Research trade apprenticeships.

• Explore opportunities within the armed services.

• Volunteer. This is a good way to develop skills and gain experience that can be listed on a resume. Helping others can also provide great personal satisfaction.


Focus on the present and the future:

Avoid the negativity associated with the term drop out. Consider it a past experience and try not to use the term. Instead think – and say – “I am working on my GED or I am taking courses to increase my skills.”

If you feel more positive about yourself and your future, success will be easier to achieve. Seeing the steps you are taking as opportunities, rather than consequences for not finishing high school, can also provide a better outlook for the future.