# 13.7C: High School Dropouts

While education can improve life chances, not everyone has equal access to education.

### LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Recall some of the reasons why students in the U.S. may drop out of high school and the potential consequences of dropping out

### Key Points

• The more education people have, the higher their income, the better their life chances, and the higher their standard of living.
• Dropout rates also vary geographically, with the lowest rates in northern states.
• The relationships students have with their peers also influence a student’s likelihood of dropping out.

### Key Terms

• Academic Risk Factors: Academic risk factors refer to the performance of students in school and are highly related to school-level problems. These factors include absenteeism, grade retention, special education placement, low performance and grades, and low educational expectations.
• life chances: Life chances (Lebenschancen in German) is a political theory of the opportunities each individual has to improve his or her quality of life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual’s life will turn out a certain way.

### Life Chances

The more education people have, the higher their income, the better their life chances, and the higher their standard of living. In general, people with more education tend to earn higher incomes and enjoy a higher standard of living. High school dropouts are much less likely to be employed than those with high school and college degrees. Even earning a four-year degree can raise average weekly income by nearly $400. Bobby Fischer 1960 in Leipzig: Chess legend Bobby Fischer never finished high school; however, most high school dropouts do not achieve his level of success. Max Weber used the concept of “life chances” to express an individual’s access to employment opportunities and other resources. In part, life chances are determined by birth. An individual born into a wealthy family will have higher life chances than average because they will have access to greater opportunities from the moment they are born. Education also offers a means to improve one’s life chances by improving employment opportunities and making social connections. Thus, the consequences to dropping out can be high, as they significantly decrease the opportunity to improve one’s life chances. In addition to personal costs, dropping out has social costs. Dropouts have a greater likelihood of being arrested. Ultimately, this can lower the average standard of living for society as a whole. According to estimates, the average high school dropout will cost the government over$292,000.