Household Income vs. Graduation Rate
How does society define a person that is successful? Many would suggest it is by the level of their happiness, financial status, or accomplishments. But how does one get to the point where they have achieved everything they need to be successful? It is no doubt that education and wealth play a big role in this. Education and wealth go hand in hand. One comes with the other, but not necessarily. A good example of this can be found by analyzing The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. Jay Gatsby, the main character’s neighbor from the novel written in the 1920s, becomes extremely wealthy after attending Oxford College. Education, success and wealth does not come easy; however, without proper education, one is greatly put at a disadvantage. But how? CNNMoney compares the graduation rate of low-income students and high-income students to show the different levels of success between the both types of students. Further research suggests the dropout rate is an epidemic and because of this several laws have been established to resolve this crisis. All of the evidence and research supports the main idea that education and wealth are key to success.
Jay Gatsby attends Oxford College in England before he goes off to World War I. When he comes back, he is poor and his only set of clothes is his uniform. Gatsby meets Meyer Wolfshiem, a bootlegger, and joins Wolfshiem’s business; Wolfshiem recollects, “I made the pleasure of his acquaintance just after the war. But I knew I had discovered a man of fine breeding after I talked with him an hour.” (Fitzgerald; pg. 76; ch. 4). Shortly after Gatsby joins Wolfshiem’s business, he acquires a mansion that is “a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Fitzgerald; pg. 9; ch. 1).
Statistics from the U.S Department of Agriculture indicate Michigan has an average median household income of $45,354 per year. A correlation can be found if one was to compare the household income with the high school graduation rate for public school districts within a county. Livingston County and Clinton County are two of the few counties in the state that have a median household income of $65,729 and $58,790 that is well above the average household income. The high school graduation rate for Livingston and Clinton County are 86 percent and 95 percent whereas counties that have a median household income below the State’s $45,354 show that the high school graduation rate is respectively lower. Wayne County has a household income of $39,429 with a graduation rate of 89 percent and Clare County has a household income of $31,882 with a graduation rate of 79 percent (State).
After passing the No Child Left Behind bill in 2001, the graduation rate for all high schools across America should be close to 100 percent. However, perhaps a family’s financial issues could explain why counties that have a lower household income have lower high school graduation rates. For example, parents may not have the proper resources or parenting skills to send their child to school.
A student who lacks of a high school degree will most likely end up lacking a college degree. “…54% of students from wealthy families obtained a bachelor’s degree” says Martha Bailey, an Economics Professor at University of Michigan, “but only 9 percent of low-income students got college diplomas.” (Luhby). The reason low-income students drop out is the tuition costs and the feeling of discouragement. According to Tim Smeeding from the Institute of Poverty at the University of Wisconson, low-income students do not persist to graduate and it is harder for them to find their way through school, so they become discouraged and drop out. However 41 percent of students who come from families in the lowest income ranks move up to the highest two rungs if they get a college degree, according to research from the Pew Economic Mobility Project, but if they do not then only 14 percent advance that far (Luhby). The United States Census Bureau states that a college graduate who works 40 years will earn $1 million more than a high school graduate who does not attend college.
One third of all high school students fail to graduate (Graves). America’s Promise Alliance suggests 1.2 million students drop out of high school each day; thus, $330 billion are lost in wages and taxes. This results in the creation of government-supported programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare. Over 50 percent of Americans receive government support.
In order to support the low-income families, the government passes laws such as the Michigan Child Welfare Law (MCWL). This law pays for tuition and fees for its recipients who are employees and are students. It provides the needed support services such as child care, educational development programs and work, train recipients to gain better skills, combine classroom training, mentoring, and real life work experiences (Reichert). This helps the recipients get basic skills and a job history. The MCWL works with community colleges and vocational schools to develop cirricula for recipients and works with local employers to design programs in specific career fields (Reichert). The MCWL is enforced by and directed by the Department of Human Services which works with both the government and low-income families.
Education and wealth are necessary to become successful. Of course, there are many low-income students who do graduate school and are success, but there are a handful of those who do not graduate. An estimated 7,000 students drop out of school everyday (Graves). It is true that those who do graduate and earn degrees make $1 million more than those who do not and that occurs after 40 years of full-time of work (Luhby). Upward mobility depends on education and wealth; however, there are some instances where it does not matter such as ascribed wealth–where one is born into wealth.
Society defines successful people as people who are enriched with happiness, wealth, or accomplishments. To become a successful person, one must acquire a great level of education and wealth. By analyzing The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald one can notice that Jay Gatsby becomes extremely wealthy after attending Oxford College and becoming a bootlegger. Without education and wealth, one is put at a disadvantage. CNN Money, as well as many other sources, survey how wealth affects education. Education and wealth are the key to success.