While attending college may seem like wasted time and money, there is proof that graduates with no postgraduate degree make significantly less than high school graduates who continue on with their education. A study performed by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics showed that full time opportunities are fewer for students without college years under their belts, and that their wages are much lower as well. For those who would like to expand their career potential, but need more flexibility, working towards a bachelor degree online is an option that is offered by many colleges.

Limited job Opportunities

One of the reasons why high school graduates without a degree make less money is because the job opportunities are few and far between . Many of the jobs available offer minimum wage, with little chance for promotion. Popular jobs for students with no postsecondary education are in the areas of food service, retail trade, hospitality, remediation services, and waste management. These represent some of the lowest paying industries at the entrance level.

Students who made more, on average, than their peers found positions in mining, energy, and manufacturing. While these jobs pay a little more, they are also harder to find and secure, especially for those with no college education.

Lower Wages for High School Graduates

If fewer job prospects do not convince high school students to continue their education, their future wage outlook might. The Kentucky study showed that individuals in the most popular industries for non-college graduates make between $7,000 and $10,000 a year. More years in the work force does not help much. Only around 33 percent of those who did not go to college were earning the equivalent of minimum wage at a full time position, even though they had been out of high school for three years.


While the study focused on students in Kentucky, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that college is beneficial for students all around the country. Of the young adults who have higher levels of education, 73 percent work full time, while only 60 percent of those who didn’t go on past high school work full time. For the country average in 2012, young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $46,900, while adults with just a high school education made an average of $30,000. 


Preparation for College is Important

With more and more proof that continued education is beneficial for both job opportunity and higher wages, high schools need to be better at preparing students to continue on to postsecondary education. Even a certification program or one-year program can help set students up for success down the line. One way to prepare students is to help them develop the necessary skills that college classes require. These include basic work habits such as good attendance and being on time.


Wage Inequalities

While high school graduates make less than their college-attending classmates, there are even more inequalities when it comes to gender, race, and income class. The same study showed that African Americans and females made about one-third less than their counterparts, and students from low-income homes not only earned less but were also less likely to find a job.


Even if students choose not to attend a four year college and earn their bachelor’s degree, some amount of school beyond high school is highly recommended in order to increase their income and job potential. 

Student Caring

Danica Lynn Lee is a recent graduate from Calfornia State University of Long Beach.  In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, yoga and spending time with her two dogs.  Follow her on Google+

Thank you Dancia for your valuable contribution: Study Shows Low Wages, Fewer Jobs for High School Grads who Don’t Attend College

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