Last year the Center for Public Education (CPE) released their first report in a series on high school graduates who do not go on to college. In that report, author Jim Hull found that only 12 percent of high school graduates did NOT go on to college. When nearly everyone goes, the “college or career” dichotomy is mostly a myth (and a shrinking one at that).
CPE’s latest report in the series looks at what happens to these students. According to their analysis, some things don’t seem to matter–in general, the number of courses students completed, how much homework they did, or how involved they were extracurricular activities did not affect their future earnings potential. However, completing certain courses in math and science (and certain combinations of courses) and attaining a professional certification or licensure DID have an impact on earnings as well as non-economic outcomes like voting and volunteering.
Check out the full report here.
Update: My friend Ben Miller asked how this would change if we looked at high school students earlier in their career. Luckily, NCES has a national survey on high school sophomores and their outcomes 10 years later. For every 100 public high school students who were sophomores in 2002, 3 dropped out before graduating, 13 graduated high school but not go on to college, and the rest attended at least some form of postsecondary education (50 of the original 100 attained some postsecondary credential) within 10 years. See Table 1 here.