Smart Kids Are Increasingly Dropping College

Even among gifted college classmates at top schools, the graduation rates diverge by family wealth status.

This Department of Education data review confirms many other similar conclusions — such as the data by staff at Brandeis University funded by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The economists at St. Louis Federal Reserve acknowledge, “In terms of wealth accumulation, college is not paying off for recent college graduates on average… and for non-white students, the payoffs are somewhat lower than average.”

Duke University researchers and other renowned independent economic analysts also confirm the deficiency of college for people from economically disadvantaged families.

More young adults and their families are independently determining and affirmatively stating they refuse to accept the argument that the first 12 years of education was a waste.

Indeed, the high school dropout rate is decreasing while the college dropout rate is increasing.

This is phenomenal.

Be wary of those, however, who respond to this diverging disparity with a call to boost taxes to finance “tuition”…

Shortcomings of Need-based Full Scholarships

Instead, for a moment, take on the mindset of a low wealth academically gifted student.

These were the good kids. They were always obedient and only want to honor their parents, who wanted nothing more than to say they raised a smart college-educated child.

More than anything, this is why many academically gifted kids delay going to work, delay other life decisions like marriage, and enroll full-time despite being from an economically disadvantaged family — merely to honor their parents.

Being redundant, these are not inherently delinquent dropouts seeking to chase a life of crime and dereliction. These were the “smart” and honorable kids.

They were so smart, however, that many of these gifted and bright young people recognize and can calculate very quickly the opportunity cost and unaffordable debt loads.

Even on full scholarship, they’re missing out on earnings by sitting in classes all day and libraries all night, when they could be working for some compensation and leveraging compounding interest over time.

The ‘Doctor-Lawyer’ vs Their Secretary

Certainly, things like college and mentoring programs are helpful with attaining higher wages. But they only tend to work until they stop working. They typically stop working at the point of examining the wealth status of the parents.

Mentoring Works (until it doesn’t)

Suggested: simply, a curriculum is recommended based on parental wealth status, constructed to teach best practices of economic development (i.e., pH14 Plan), which includes learning an updated set of top skills.

Work Early, Using CTE Training Programs

And establish a good working relationship with parents.

Family, Wages, Shares — Gradual Steps

While wealth status will undoubtedly be superior, it doesn’t come without a cost.

Uncomfortable Truths of Having High Income and No Degree

Be prepared to be ridiculed for not finishing college. Be prepared for people to treat you like a charity case. Be prepared for the potential lashings from parents.

Be prepared for the onslaught of people who warn that the stock market, job market, housing market, and every other market will crash.

Nevermind the data that shows during macroeconomic crises, economically disadvantaged families headed by someone without a college degree fared significantly better than the economically disadvantaged families with a college degree.

Most Are Not Smart Enough for College

Most people simply aren’t smart enough to overcome the compounding factors against economically disadvantaged college graduates.

The debt.

The delayed earnings.

“Debt and Delay” – Not Worth the Risk

The reality of racial discrimination.

No guarantee of any higher wages to compensate for the opportunity cost.

The risk of default.

The consequences of defaulting…

Instead, take time to calculate the options and aim to discuss these between the parents, grandparents, and the high school students in the family.

ALL the Options, after High School

Some economically disadvantaged people need college as a means out of living in a drug infested, violent, predatory home environment.

Using College As an Escape Route

But these cases are extremely rare. Most kids just aren’t being chased by homicidal gangsters on their way home to Mom smoking illicit drugs.

The best way to close the gap in college graduation rates is to simply avoid college… This is particularly recommended in cases where both the student and parents are economically disadvantaged and a full-time job paying above minimum wage is made available to the young adult.

Kids who want to honor their parents, go on to complete college — this doesn’t mean they are inherently the ‘smarter’ kids.

Honoring parents is certainly loving and thoughtful. But there is no evidence of any law, policy, or inherent morals that our country financially honors economically disadvantaged young adults who complete higher education.

This country honors military Veterans — with billions of economic set-aside incentives for home loans, disability payments, retirement payments, contract set-asides, and preference points on job applications.

But there is no job guarantee program for economically disadvantaged young adults from an economically disadvantaged family who have graduated with the BS, MS, or Doctorate degrees. It just doesn’t exist.

From a low wealth family and having dreams of becoming a surgeon? Consider the costs of the undergraduate degree, the medical school degree, and the living expenses during subsequent years of residency and fellowship training paying the equivalent of minimum wage.

The total cost must also include all those years one could have simply been working full-time and investing wages into above average companies, aka the opportunity cost.

For people who are truly economically disadvantaged, this is indisputably unaffordable.

Want to be a surgeon from an economically disadvantaged family? Work save and invest wisely, then go to college and med school AFTER amassing a large portfolio from which to pull out tuition dollars.

For now, the smart kids from economically disadvantaged families are dropping out.

Be like the smart kids.

Author: pH14 Plan Staff

pH14 Plan is an economic development model for all U.S. households' participation. You can support this research by subscribing for more access, or contact us to make a gift.

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