04 March 2006Most U.S. high school dropouts regretful - study - Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most students who drop out of high school in the United States admit they made a mistake by quitting and some say they might have stayed if classes were more challenging, according to a report released on Thursday.
Researchers said they were surprised to find that a majority of the 467 dropouts they interviewed were not what most people would consider underachieving troublemakers and losers.
One-third said they were failing in school, but more than six out of 10 were maintaining C averages or better when they quit. Almost half said they were bored or that the classwork seemed irrelevant.
"The teacher just stood in front of the room and just talked and didn't really like involve you," a young female respondent from Baltimore said.
"There wasn't anybody to keep me there," said a young man from Philadelphia who dreamed of going to college but quit high school with one year to go and is now unemployed.
"There wasn't any learning going on," another complained. "They make you take classes in school that you're never going to use in life."
Three out of four said if they could turn back the clock they would choose to stay, and eight out of 10 said they now recognized that a high school diploma was important to succeed in life.
Statistics show they are right. A high school dropout on average earns $9,200 less a year than a high school graduate, and about $1 million less over a lifetime than a college graduate.
The study is one of the most extensive ever of American high school dropouts, of which there are about 1 million each year. It was based on research conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates and commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"They struck us as articulate, capable," said John Bridgeland, one the report's authors and a former Bush administration domestic policy adviser. "These kids wanted to be doctors and nurses and engineers and astronauts and then they hit the schoolhouse door and they're confronted with an environment which is not inspiring, not engaging and often disorderly and unsafe."
"Some had high grades and were just bored out of their minds," Bridgeland told Reuters in a telephone interview. "They found no connection between the classroom and life and their career aspirations."
The young people between 16 and 25 who took part in the study called "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts" were interviewed in 25 locations with high dropout rates. These included cities, suburbs and towns.
The report recommends federal, state and local efforts to offer students school options, engage parents and create early-warning systems for at-risk youths.
It also calls for more accurate tracking of dropouts and consideration of raising the legal dropout age to 18. Most states sets the compulsory school attendance age at 16 or 17.
"In fact, these kids cite too much freedom, which surprised us," Bridgeland said. "They get to high school and all of a sudden under state law they're permitted to drop out, many of the kids know that. They want more order and rules and expectations."
this is big thing for me. i dropped out with a year to go, and now i'm doing research studies just to make some money!
ok, i'm kidding. but i've been working shitty, low-paying jobs my entire adult life (no matter how short) because i don't have a diploma, i don't have a degree, and i don't have a very marketable skill set. i wholeheartedly regret dropping out and i'm glad this study reflects exactly that.