Why Is a High School Education Important?

Michele Meleen
High school students and teacher

High school is a time for teens to learn valuable skills for life from peers and professionals. School days fill time with fun, informational activities and prepare teens for the world of work. There are many reasons a high school education is important, but most of all it is a means to achieve long-term goals and feel a sense of pride in accomplishment.

Earn a College Degree

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 Key Data Release (page 23), just over 33 percent of high school graduates earn a bachelor's degree as compared to just under five percent of those who get their GED. If getting a college degree is necessary for your ideal job, earning your high school diploma can significantly improve your chances of completing that degree.

Make More Money

putting coin in piggybank

Society and the job market are constantly changing, but one fact remains pretty consistent. Young adults who finish high school earn over 20 percent more from employment than those who don't finish high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This includes nearly $1,000 per month more in wages for those who graduated from high school than those with only some high school according to the U.S. Census Bureau Key Data mentioned above. The real world requires money for staple items like food and medical help and for leisure or recreational activities. A high school education helps you earn more money to buy the things you need and want.

Find and Keep a Job

Unemployment rates are not limited to just those who don't earn a high school diploma. However, the U.S. Census Bureau report (referenced above) indicates unemployment rates for people without a GED or who did not finish high school are six percent higher than rates for those with a GED or diploma. The completion of high school can help ensure you are able to find a job when you're ready.

Once you have a job, chances are you'll want to keep it. Predictions for the year 2020 by Georgetown University suggest that over 60 percent of jobs will require some college work or a bachelor's degree. The importance of higher education in the job market isn't slowing down, so if you want to keep your job or find work in the future a high school education will help.

Learn Life Skills

Many high schools include specific life skills classes in the curriculum, but whether your school has a life skills class or not, you'll learn useful skills in high school. Understood.org suggests life skills are learned throughout school-related activities and include:

  • Ability to apply knowledge to real-life situations
  • Independent thinking skills
  • Ability to express thoughts and opinions
  • Formation and follow-through on long-term and short-term goals
  • Learning to balance duties and responsibilities
  • Ability to work with others

Through attendance, schedules, classwork and homework teens learn perseverance, self-regulation, and other skills needed for adult home and work life.

Live a Long, Healthy Life

The rate of death for adults with less than 12 years of education is nearly two and a half times higher than the rate for those with more than 13 years, according to the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF). The fact that people who don't finish high school have a lower life expectancy is the result of several factors. The Center for Public Education suggests one reason is that dropouts are not as likely as graduates to have access to health insurance from an employer. Another contributing factor is that people without a high school education tend to have more dangerous jobs and aren't always able to follow doctor's orders or understand medical billing practices says the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance adds that high school graduates live six to nine years longer than non-grads.

Contribute to Society

Society relies on all of its members to adhere to laws, care for themselves, and consider the greater good. People who finish high school contribute more to society in terms of financial stability. According to the AYPF referenced above, high school dropouts are more likely to use public assistance programs and serve time in jail than graduates. These public services cost Americans over $20 billion per year. Programs like those offering medical coverage and food to people who can't afford it are paid for largely by tax dollars and state or federal funds. High school graduates pay about 50 percent more into state and federal taxes than dropouts. This discrepancy creates a system where less educated people are using more resources than they are paying for, which can take away from other societal needs.

Have a Successful Marriage

Wedding guests throwing confetti

If a lasting, happy marriage is one of your future goals, getting a high school diploma can help you achieve it. According to a long-term study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who complete high school are more likely to get married and stay married. Only about 30 percent of college graduate marriages end in divorce compared to more than half the marriages between people who didn't complete high school.

Own and Keep Your Home

Homeownership for people who didn't finish high school has gone up according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Beyond the Numbers report. However, people who graduate from high school are about 15 percent more likely to own a home than those who don't graduate. In addition, dropouts and non-graduates are approximately three times more likely to have their home foreclosed.

Achieve Your Dreams

Completion of high school is important across many aspects of life and in the long-term. While it may seem like some of the curricula is boring or useless, the overall experience comes with great reward. See your life goals and dreams achieved when you follow through with a high school education.

Why Is a High School Education Important?