GED's and future economic status

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101 Archives' started by jamrobmic, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    This was posted by Martie on General in response to a question about homework battles. I was wondering if someone could explain in more detail why this might be so. I'm not disagreeing, but I was curious--is it because of something they miss by not finishing high school, or is it because of the way others (potential employers, for example) view someone who has a GED? Or is it something else entirely? Does it make any difference if the person with a GED goes on to college or technical school?
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I found this lengthy study from Brown University. First here's the abstract:

    The Economic Benefits of the GED:
    Lessons from Recent Research
    In 1998 the U.S. Department of Education published a comprehensive synthesis of
    the research to date on the General Educational Development certificate (GED). Since
    that time sixteen new papers shed light on the economic benefits of this education
    credential. This review of the most recent GED research highlights four lessons. First, the
    presence of the GED option may encourage some students to drop out of school. Second,
    the economic benefits associated with a GED accrue only to low skilled dropouts, with
    no benefits for higher skilled dropouts. Third, economic benefits associated with a GED
    appear over time rather than immediately upon receipt of the credential. Fourth, the
    returns to post-secondary education and training are as large for GED holders as for
    regular high school graduates, but GED holders obtain very little post-secondary
    education or on-the-job training.

    I think the gist of the study is that those with a GED tend to fare better than those who merely drop out, yet not nearly as well as those who earned their high school diploma. But I couldn't get through the whole thing, because it's past my bedtime...
  3. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    **TM** "snuck in" while I was writing this response. I am not familiar with the study she cites but her summary doesn't seem inconsistent with what I am trying to say.

    It seems that the answer to a lot of hard questions that is becoming popular depends....

    First there is the issue of the education itself. Whether or not anything is lost by leaving high school depends on what is offered in the school and what the student is doing with the opportunity. My easy child got a VERY good education in high school because she attended a large suburban school where "everyone" goes to college and a zillion AP courses are offered. In addition, she did all the required work and more. I have the feeling--but of course can't prove it--that she could have passed the GED anytime after her freshman year (if she had not been barred by age in IL.) So had she not finished high school--an EDUCATION of worth would have been lost.

    However, if a student attends a mediocre to poor high school, is unmotivated, and is taking a lot of flack for behavior--alternating between being truant and ISS, then leaving and getting a GED may be a good plan.

    There are, of course, some students who attend very fine schools and are not motivated. My daughter had a diaper friend (also Korean) who was in the same grade until this girl was "pushed out" into evening school where it was all computer driven. This was a horrible plan because the girl had become a depressed, withdrawn adolescent who zipped through high school and graduated a year ahead of my daughter. Her mother was furious bec. the school said this diploma was equivalent to a regular diploma: first, it wasn't regarded that way by four year colleges AND what one learns via computer in a depressed state is not exactly well-rounded or enriching. So this child, who had had a really bright academic future, ended up poorly EDUCATED in comparison to what could have been if different decisions had been made. (The parent is the most passive of all my acquaintances so that this would have gone unchallenged by her until it was too late really didn't surprise me.)

    A GED used to be an option for ADULTS who were well beyond high school age who wanted (and were able to) indicate they had the equivalent of a h.s. education. GED programs are now being pushed for kids who are not beyond school age and I think it is a cop-out on the part of schools to foster this approach. DON'T get me wrong--if you or anyone you know has a GED and it has worked out, I'm really happy for you. If you freely chose that--great. But that is different to me than encouraging students to drop out and into GED. The Time magazine article I mentioned in the other post talked about administrators encouraging students to drop out saying, "you can get a GED."

    How do employers and colleges regard GEDs? It depends.....I see many ads that say H.S. diploma required--No GED. GEDs limit college choices a lot EXCEPT for the very bright iconoclast that has sky high SATs and dropped out of school at 16--traveled the world, picked up a GED, and got into Harvard--sort of the Bill Gates model before the money is made. Not many kids fit that model.

    I personally believe, but can't prove, that a person with a GED who graduates from college will never suffer for it because I have never known of a job requiring a college degree that inquired about a high school diploma. It becomes irrelevant. The question is: how hard is it to graduate from college with a GED as a base. It depends….

    My son has a friend --also a musician-- LOL--actually that's obvious--all his friends are musicians--who dropped out of high school at 15, went to the Curtis Institute--had been a year behind my son in school --is now two years ahead--and just recently became old enough to get a GED. Will it hurt him? Of course not because first, he's a musician and second he will get a bachelor's degree in 2007.

    A more common outcome in my experience is that a GED hurts both job and post secondary opportunities initially. However if the person is motivated--for example, getting a A.A. degree at a community college bec. the four year college they wanted won't accept a GED, then the person will be fine as a transfer student. Employment is less clear to me--how many jobs say "NO GED?" I don't know. Is it becoming more common? I don't know that either.

    I only know two things: I worked REALLY hard to not have ex-difficult child follow his friend (they were at the same conservatory h.s.) to the early conservatory entrance-GED route. I am happy that he graduated from high school despite the struggle (he attended five high schools in total) even though he is not nearly as well educated as his sister at the same age. But he had the opportunity, he couldn't/wouldn't use it.

    I guess what I am really saying is--as an individual decision, I can come up with examples of when getting a GED is a good and reasonable thing to do --and examples when that is not the case. What I object to is the creation of a group of kids for whom the GED is seen as a "good enough” alternative. I wonder if part of what is motivating school administrators is to get kids out of schools due to NCLB because a drop out doesn't figure in high stakes test scores. Of course this is based on the fallacy that all students pushed out to get GEDs would test poorly which is not true because for poor test takers, it can be much easier to hang around in high school than it is to pass the GED. But I think that there is a growing attraction to push kids toward GEDs and it is definitely not a POLICY (as opposed to an individual decision) that we should want to see encouraged.

  4. judi

    judi Active Member

    My son got his GED. Long story as to why he dropped out. He then took 13 college credit hours and passed all of them. He works full-time in a manufacturing environment. Yes, I think it has affected his job choices. However, without a GED - he would be further limited. I wanted him to stay in school and in retrospect, he agrees. However, at the time, we were just trying to get him to do something. His depression was so severe and his behaviors so out of control that a GED was the only answer. He passed on the first attempt and has always scored very high on the standardized school tests.

    I have been in a position to do hiring for professional positions. There have been a couple of nurses who had GED's and then went on to nursing school and I have pushed to hire them because of my past experience with my son - everyone deserves a second chance. As you get further into a college education, I think a GED means less and less. However, with only a GED, your career opportunities are severely limited today.
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I'm not sure of this, but I believe there was a big controversy about five years ago in the Houston schools because this was happening. :frown:

    I also want to say "it depends" on the hiring question when comparing a high school graduate with a GED holder. There are a group of people in the country who have no desire to attend college or even technical school. They are young people, most bright and full of promise, who just aren't college material. This wasn't a problem in our parent's or grandparent's generations. They would go to work, entry level or as an apprentice, and develop a very proficient skill set to their chosen field. A lot of these people were clerks, mechanics, cooks, plumbers, merchants. This option is now seemingly "lost" to this younger generation.
    I've done hiring for several retail companies. I've interviewed many young people with GED's and local diplomas who just want to get to work. Full time with-benefits. In some cases, these kids are more reliable and flexible when it comes to scheduling because they aren't going away to college or looking for a paycheck to help cover the cost of books. They don't expect every weekend or holiday off, they want hours to pay rent and make their bills. A surprising number end up starting as entry level associates and working their way into management. The especially bright ones are then encouraged to attend classes toward a business degree (many companies make at least partial reimbursement for qualified courses and supplies).
    Anyway, that's what I've seen.
  6. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    I wanted to thank everyone for your insight and comments. I lost the post I just typed, so I'll try again tomorrow, but I wanted to let you all know I appreciate your input.
  7. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    My son is the one who has the GED, and that's a pretty accurate picture of the situation before I took him out of school. Except the school was sending him to alternative school, not ISS--which meant going before the juvenile court judge (for skipping a detention from which he was excused). I don't think the school pushed him out (they claimed that was the last thing they wanted), but they showed him where the door was located and held it open for him, in my opinion (figuratively, not literally).

    My concern with the situation is, of course, that because he didn't get a diploma, he won't be able to earn a decent enough living to support himself, let alone a wife and kids (and maybe his parents in their golden years, lol). After thinking over what all of you said, I realize the problem isn't the lack of a diploma, it's the lack of an education, and I don't think, with the situation being what it was, that he would have gotten any more of an education had he stayed in school long enough to get a diploma. I think it would have hurt his self-esteem even more to have stayed in school and continued to fail, even if he eventually did manage to graduate.

    I think the moral of the story is that we should have done more to help him when he started having problems back in third grade, when his teachers were telling us he could do the work, he just wouldn't. We were led to believe he was doing fine through elementary and middle school, but it all fell apart unbelievably fast in high school. So I guess we can serve as one of those horrible examples of what not to do.

    On the other hand, he's happy, employed, and studying for a career in a field he enjoys, so I think I'll count our blessings. Thanks again.
  8. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    If he is employed and studying something he wants to do, then I believe your son will "outgrow" any negative effects of having a GED.

    The kids who are concerning never get off the ground as the study cited above says--no entry level job with a career path and no further education = really dim prospects.

    I agree with you that if there was nothing more to be learned by his hanging around h.s., your son is better off with more self-esteem and a GED.

    There are lots of parents who wish they had not listened to the school when their kids were young. Elemntary teachers are not high school teachers. There is a disconnect between the expectations in my opinion and that takes a heavy toll on our kids.

    Good luck to your son in his career!

  9. jamrobmic

    jamrobmic New Member

    I agree whole-heartedly. That's why I believe it should be mandatory that schools test any child who is failing--I don't think parents should have to ask for it, especially since most aren't even aware of the option (we weren't, until I found this board--my son was 16 by then). I don't know if it would have helped him succeed in school, because when we finally did have him tested, we were told he didn't have any learning disabilities (just "areas of weakness," but that's another post), but I would like to have known it was an option.