In our blog post celebrating freedom, I mentioned an eighth-grade graduate who decided not to attend high school to instead support her family financially. While this girl showed high intellectual capacity and decision-making skills for her age, she most likely lacks important skills to succeed in life.
In the Dominican Republic, only 50 percent of the population graduates from high school. During the same academic school year (2017-2018), approximately 88 percent of Americans graduated from high school (read more here). In the Dominican Republic and in general, students who don’t enter high school or drop out before graduation have higher rates of unemployment, poverty, teenage pregnancy, and participation in criminal activities. (Read more statistics here.)
These statistics are commonly cited arguments for teens to finish school. However, a lack of education also has negative effects on a person’s intellectual capability that can alter the trajectory of his or her life.
Students develop many crucial skills in high school and continuing education, such as values, critical thinking, and career readiness.
The development of soft skills and value-based learning begins in primary school. High school education continues this formative education but using more complex scenarios. Upon middle-school graduation, the student is hopefully equipped with basic knowledge about what values are important to her and what she believes is right and wrong. However, those values have not yet been challenged by complex scenarios. In high school, she would hopefully be introduced to conflicting views and be challenged to a debate, helping her discern inconsistencies in her ideas and those of others.
When people are ill-equipped to discern between right and wrong, they struggle to stand firm to their beliefs when challenged. They may struggle to decide how to vote, how to discipline their children, or, in the case of the entrepreneur, how to develop and enforce their business’s mission, vision, and values.
Critical and Creative Thinking
Critical and creative thinking requires years of practice and evaluation to fully develop. Individuals who lack these skills may lack imagination, creativity, and may be incapable of developing their own strategies to complete a project. They often need to be told, step-by-step, how to complete processes.
At MoveUp, we have seen entrepreneurs who lack critical and creative thinking skills struggle to keep their businesses sustainable long-term. They’ve sold the exact same product for the last 10 years. As demand decreases, these entrepreneurs struggle to change products, operations, and supply chains. They may have a vague dream for the future success or expansion of their businesses but lack the ability to get themselves there.
Finally, high school and continuing education teach job-related skills necessary in the modern workplace. These skills include note-taking, advanced reading and writing, spatial reasoning, and knowledge of basic geometry and algebra.
While these skills can be learned on the job, it is much easier and less stressful to learn them before you need to use them to be successful in your career.
What if I lack these skills?
Whether you came from a not-so-great high school or simply want to freshen up on what you learned decades ago, you can and should keep developing your professional skills!
At MoveUp, we know these skills are like muscles: you have to use them frequently to keep them strong. If I want to become a better professional writer, I need to dedicate time to read and write frequently. This is why continued education is so important, not just for some professions like teaching and nursing, but for everyone!
The most important first step is simply getting started. Many of our MoveUp users take our courses to grow professionally because they are motivated to provide a better future for their children. They want to ensure their children receive a better education than they did. Children are inspired to learn when they see how their parents are life-long students.
The education we receive in school and beyond significantly impacts our development as an individual and professional. At MoveUp, we work to help all individuals, regardless of their past education, learn what is necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals. We join with our users to encourage the next generation to get the best possible education they can now but also become life-long learners who consistently are stretching and growing their skills.
To read more specific statistics about the negative effects of not graduating from high school, check out this report in Spanish about the Latin America region.