High School Drop-Outs Earn More Than College/University Drop-Outs!!


For those of you who remember being in college/university or are in school still, did it ever cross your mind at any point to drop out? If we’re going to all be honest here, I’m sure that you have thought of it at one point or another, and maybe some of you are currently thinking about it. The only thing that stops you is the knowledge that if you do so, you will be severely limiting your career choices and handicapping your potential. And I absolutely agree with those facts! We all know that college/university drop-outs have fewer employment opportunities, and therefore, make far less money than those that go on to complete some kind of formal education or post-secondary education.

However, did you know that Statistics Canada did a study on the earnings of post-secondary education drop-outs versus high school drop-outs in Canada and found that those who drop out of college/university actually make less money than those who dropped out of high school?! Shocking, isn’t it? If you click on this link, you will find some astounding information that I’ll bet you never knew before. Particularly, if you look at Table 3 of the study, you will see that Post-Secondary Education drop-outs make, on average, $20 per week less than high school drop-outs. The only positive thing for PSE drop-outs in comparison with high school drop-outs is that they have a slightly higher employment rate (i.e. 73.3% for PSE drop-outs versus 71.4% for high school drop-outs), but it still does not even come close to matching those with either a high school diploma (79.6%), those who have either a trade or other certificate (82.8%), those with a college diploma or certificate (85.1% – 86.2%), or those with a university degree (79.6%-87.5%).

So, what does all of this mean and how can it be possible for post-secondary leavers to make less money than high school leavers? Good questions.

When I read the study, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. In fact, I had to call one of my colleagues to verify that what I was reading was correct! In the course of our conversation, I came up with the only reason that really made sense to me: I believe that when someone drops out of their post-secondary programme, they still feel entitled to make as much money as someone who has completed their post-secondary education, therefore, they may be a little more unwilling to take “blue collar” jobs, so to speak. I believe that those who have dropped out of high school have accepted the fact that they will never make as much money as those with a post-secondary education, and accept the fact that they must work really hard at whatever job they choose to do. I think that (sometimes) post-secondary leavers have a sense of entitlement that is unjustified, and yet, remains dominant in their minds whilst looking for a job.

I also believe that when you show an employer a resume with only a partially completed post-secondary qualification, the employer gains some possible insight into your level of determination; you must work much harder to prove yourself within that job, assuming that you are even offered the position. I understand that the same may be said of high school drop-outs, but, as I said earlier, I believe that high school drop-outs generally work hard in “blue collar” jobs and appreciate those jobs a little more than post-secondary drop-outs. Unless you’re a super genius who is able to create his/her own business, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, then you’re probably not going to end up a college-drop-out-billionaire, so why take the chance?

Again, these are just my thoughts on the matter, so if you disagree with me, please feel free to comment! If you are upset by this article, I do apologise, but you have to admit…the numbers don’t lie.


8 Responses to “High School Drop-Outs Earn More Than College/University Drop-Outs!!”

  1. It is sad but true. A degree is worthless unless it is completed, and not completing an optional program is far more damning than not completing a mandatory one. This is something you committed to do for yourself, not a requirement of the state.

    • You’re absolutely right, Steve! I must say, however, I was completely shocked to find out that high school drop-outs would still make more money than college drop-outs…that was not something I was expecting!

      Hopefully some of the college students reading this post that are thinking of dropping out will think twice before doing so. You are very right when you say a college degree is something that you do for yourself, and not for the state…very brilliant insight.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  2. That’s kind of surprising. I might be more shocked a few years ago. The world is changing so much now that many people are finding that college is a waste even with the degree compared to what people with certain skills can do right out of high school. Interesting post.

    • I have to be honest, when I read that statistic, I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Again, I suppose that many people would rather trust someone who has the skills to do the job rather than just the theoretical knowledge, or partial theoretical knowledge, as is this case.

      Thanks for dropping by, Clay!

  3. 5 Dakota

    This is such a great post Christy!!

    It’s interesting because I didn’t complete high school. The principal told me I’d never amount to anything. Then I landed a job on Air NZ international when I was only 18 years old. The youngest flight crew member hired by the company. They usually hired between 25-30. So it was an amazing experience. Their requirement was secondary school completion. But I left high school one year before it was over, and ended up making more money than some people I knew who spent 3 years, or more studying. I 100% agree with you about what you say. I think the main, GREATEST advantage of getting higher education (depending on what you want to do) is making more opportunities to, not just make more money – but actually work in an environment of like-minded people, that you can really relate to. Generally I feel like in lower jobs, if you want to mix with a different type of people (without generalizing) you have to get educated. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend everyone to leave. But I made a life for myself, without finishing the last year, and got a job that most people achieve near their 30’s. I’ll always be an entrepreneur, and my dream is to fulfill a career in photography/writing and my jewelry line. Have been working on it over the last few years now.

    Thanks for always posting engaging things about education. It’s a great read.

    p.s I said to someone today that I think (one of) the BEST forms of education is travel. It opens your heart and mind so BIG, in so many ways.


    BE CHECKIN’ THAT MAIL SOON. Can’t wait for your jewels to arrive.


    • Thank you so much, Dakota!

      First of all, let me say that what your principal told you was ridiculous and completely unfounded; no one has the right to say something like that to ANY student, let alone someone like you who is so clearly intelligent and talented.

      Secondly, boy did you prove him wrong! lol

      Thirdly, you’re right. Leaving high school or college early does limit the types of environments that you are able to work in, which also obviously limits your learning potential. I think that your story is quite interesting as you prove my point exactly: those who leave high school early tend to be better off than those who leave college early. Again, I think that high school leavers tend to KNOW that they must be more industrious to compete and are willing to put in the time and the effort. College leavers tend to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to employment because they have done SOME post-secondary education; the willingness to prove themselves tends to be somewhat less than high school leavers. And, again, high school leavers actually make more money than college leavers (at least in Canada…lol), and I believe it is due to their industriousness.

      All that being said, I obviously agree with you and wouldn’t recommend that anyone leave school early in any circumstance; clearly, those who complete their education tend to earn much more money and are far happier in their careers.

      I’m glad that you have found your way and that you are doing something that you love, with or without an education. As I said earlier, you are very intelligent and amazingly talented, so I’m not worried about ya… 😉

      Thanks again for dropping by and adding to the conversation! 🙂

      P.S. I’m checking my mail every day…lol

  4. Hmm…trying to think out of the box here. Maybe, included in the study, are some highly skilled high school dropouts? Young models/celebrities?

    • That’s a good theory. I have thought about it as well and I kind of think it has something to do with motivation and drive. I think that high school drop-outs, a couple of years down the road, realise that they are somewhat disadvantaged when it comes to finding a good paying job, so they tend to work harder. I also think that many college/university drop-outs tend to think, “Well, I’ve done SOME post-secondary studies so I deserve a higher paying job than a high school drop-out”…a sort of sense of entitlement; therefore, college drop-outs miss out on better paying jobs.

      I must point out, however, that neither groups will make NEARLY as much money as those who stick it out and graduate from college/university. So, moral of the story: stay in school. (Sounds rather cliché , no? lol)

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