Let’s be honest, if students were given the choice to stop attending high school with no legal consequence, a vast majority would take the opportunity. While life without high school may seem appealing, it has an extremely important role in our life and it’s a necessity in society that cannot be overlooked.
High school should remain mandatory until a student becomes legally independent as it is essential for the development of adolescents into productive adults, and extremely important in securing future opportunities.
Many argue that those who wish to work an entry-level job until retirement, pursue a self-sustaining farm based lifestyle, or simply don’t want to go to school should have the right to do so. In Michigan, students actually could quit school to pursue these lifestyles but only after the age of 16. At that point, a student could legally drop out with parental consent. Since 2010, the age requirement for mandatory attendance has been bumped up to 18, further prompting arguments on the necessity of education.
While some students have a purpose behind dropping out, many would take any opportunity to stop attending school for their own leisure. It’s a moral responsibility of government on any level to help ensure and enforce equal opportunities for education. By keeping high school mandatory, students are legally required to have a much higher chance at a bright future.
Without a high school diploma, students are affected negatively and will not have the same number of opportunities as a student who at least gets their GED (General Education Development). A study from the Center of Public Education found that employers that do not require high school diplomas commonly do not offer retirement, health benefits, or other support to low-level employees. Graduating will also benefit you financially; The National Center of Statistics reports that high school graduates on average earn $143 more per week than those who drop out, adding up to almost an additional $7,500 a year.
Another detail that should not be overlooked is the correlation between drop-outs and incarcerations. Approximately 1 in 10 high school drop-outs will end up in jail or prison, whereas the fraction for high school graduates is closer to 1 in 35. These correlations must be acknowledged so that efforts will be made to improve these numbers, efforts such as keeping high school mandatory.
Additionally, there are psychological reasons for high school to remain mandatory. A significant amount of important mental development occurs from ages 14-18 making high school crucial to proper development and to increasing chances of success.
Psychologist Erik Erikson states in his theory of psychosocial stages that around ages 13-20 people focus on self-actualization, and answering the question, “who am I?” High school allows students to find a sense of belonging and then begin working to establish themselves in a localized community, thus beginning to answer that question.
According to data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, results of various studies are consistent in showing that perceiving a sense of belonging with one’s school is related to positive academic, psychological, and behavioral outcomes throughout adolescence. Also, participating in school provides a sense of belonging in society and provides a daily schedule, which are both are necessary experiences in properly transitioning to adulthood.
By not allowing a student to drop out until they are legally an adult, Michigan shows they will not sanction “educational suicide,” and this should be a standard followed nationwide.