Family and
Student Resources

Parents and Students Working Together to Stay in School

There is no one single answer, or silver bullet, to keeping students in school. The National Dropout Prevention Center has developed Fifteen Effective Strategies that help combat the dropout rate. Family involvement with the school and their children is vital.

Reasons to Stay in School

  • High school dropouts are four times as likely to be unemployed as those who have completed four or more years of college
  • Graduating from high school will determine how well you live for the next of your life. High school graduates earn $143 more per week than high school dropouts. College graduates earn $336 more per week than high school graduates ($479 more than high school dropouts);
  • Dropouts are more likely to apply for and receive public assistance than graduates of high school
  • Dropouts comprise a disproportionate percentage of the nation’s prison and death row inmates. About 75% of America’s State prison inmates, almost 59% of Federal inmates, and 69% of local jail inmates did not complete high school (Harlow, 2003);
  • School districts all over the country provide alternative programs for students who are not successful in the usual school setting. The best programs in the country are featured in our Model Programs Database.


Byron, Greg.

Canada’s SchoolNet. Canada Prospects. Downloaded from:

Education World. Who are today’s school dropouts? Available:

Harlow, C. W. (January 2003). Education and correctional populations (NCJ 195670). Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice Web site

National Center for Education Statistics

New York State Department of Labor. Did you know? Downloaded from: why.htm

Shields, Tom (2001, April 14). Why stay in school? A view from the other side of graduation. Erin Advocate, 123(15).

Dropout Indicators

Listed below are the common variables found in the research that identify potential dropouts:

Fifteen Effective Strategies for Dropout Prevention

Indicators of Potential Dropouts

Web Resources for Those Who Want to Help Someone Stay in School

School districts all over the country provide alternative programs for students who are not successful in the usual school setting. The best programs in the country are featured in our Model Programs Database.

Is it Cool to Stay in School?

NDPC/N Commentary, Published: September 20, 2013

Take a look around social media sites, blogs, microblogs, discussion boards, etc. and you will see numerous discussions on the merits of staying in school. Particularly heated can be arguments on attending and completing college. But even the merits of staying in and completing high school are being questioned by many youth. OnYahoo! Answers and other sites, you’ll see questions such as “Why is school so boring?” and “Should I drop out of high school?” There is even a wikiHow titled “How to Drop Out of High School: 9 Steps (with Pictures).” Recently, a young Hollywood star with quite a few followers tweeted, “If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.” Web sites throw up the same list of famous actors and celebrities who made it big despite dropping out of high school; however, it is interesting to note that many of those on the list would not recommend dropping out of high school and many of them went on to earn GEDs or even honorary higher education degrees. Some even went back for high school diplomas after they became famous.

The National Dropout Prevention Center encourages a healthy discussion, particularly if such a discussion will lead to better understanding of why students drop out of school and a better understanding of how to make more evident to youth the value and efficiency involved in completing a formal education. We especially welcome the student voice and students’ participation in these discussions. However, any discussion should begin with some facts:

  • The average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (PBS, Frontline , “ By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School ”). That’s a full $10,386 per year less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree. Young people should think of the impact of that related to living in poverty and all of the hardships that come
    with poverty over a lifetime.
  • 68% of America’s state prison inmates do not have a high school diploma ( ), not only bad for these individuals, but extremely costly in many
    ways to society.
  • High school dropouts have increased incidents of multiple health-related programs, including higher rates of alcoholism, heart disease, obesity, and smoking. Just looking at Medicaid spending alone, cutting the number of high school dropouts in half
    nationally would save $7.3 billion dollars a year (again, just in Medicaid spending; Alliance for Excellent Education, “ Well and Well-Off: Decreasing Medicaid and Health-Care Costs by Increasing Education Attainment ”).
  • There are social programs to help dropouts and others struggling but these programs are costly. Are these after-the-fact treatment solutions the best use of taxpayer dollars over the long term if through strategies to help students complete high school,
    we could take a preventative approach and nearly obliterate this basic problem? Also, if our nation’s high schools could increase graduation rates to 90%, this would yield $1.8 billion in local, state, and federal taxes based on $5.3 billion in
    higher wages, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education (see this AP article ). Young people might do well to consider the other uses of
    taxpayer dollars if basic necessities and support for high school dropouts were no longer needed in such quantity. And this is only Medicaid spending; there are many other areas (health and welfare related especially) where savings would result
    if the population were better educated.
  • Most high school dropouts do not have the alternative option of quality home schooling or quality self-education, due mainly to a lack of resources. Many high school dropouts are the children of high school dropouts, which can compound the issue for
    them regarding removing barriers to success. There are certainly excellent alternatives to formal education and some youth thrive in these instances, but as the statistics above show, many, many do not thrive.

All of this is not to say that alternative routes to becoming educated and becoming a productive and fulfilled member of society are not possible. However, care must be taken not to assume if something is good for a few, it must be good for all. Youth
who may not see the value in formalized education might better understand the issue if they were to spend a day or so with someone who does not know how to read, write, or perform basic calculations. Illiteracy and lack of education comes with significant
barriers to functioning in today’s complex society. Consider the skills involved in creating and following a budget or filling out any kind of application. There are significant and real struggles that many face due to lack of education. Idealism vs.
reality: these are the things with which teenagers often wrestle and The National Dropout Prevention Center encourages youth to continue to question, but also to ground their conclusions in reality.
Several important and key questions for school teachers, counselors, and administrators, as well as policymakers, should be:

  • What is the basis for the notion that too many youth hold that school has little to no value?
  • Why is one of the four most common reasons stated for dropping out, “I didn’t see the value in the schoolwork I was asked to do?” ( A Proven Solution for Dropout Prevention: Expanded Learning Opportunities )
  • What framework and strategies can be put into place to help students connect what they learn in school to their daily choices and actions as well as the skills and knowledge they will need later in life?
  • Are the goals of formal education aligned with the expectations of students, parents, and society and are the metrics to determine academic success aligned with those goals?
  • How can we make each school activity and experience more clearly related to students’ out-of-school choices and outcomes as well as aligned with the goals related to expectations of students, parents, and society?
  • How can we really engage youth to become lifelong learners who not only question the status quo, but investigate the facts sufficiently, make conclusions based on those facts, and value every opportunity for learning?

Importance of Community Engagement

“We earn a living by what we get: We get a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

This quote inspires us to share time, treasure, and talent to improve our communities. Everyone benefits when citizens make communities vibrant and healthy places to live. Community engagement is one of the personal characteristics of the 16 Road Less Traveled (RLT) subjects. They see the value of making their communities better for everyone.

The subjects engage their communities almost naturally and do it with little fanfare. This happens on two levels. First, they do the daily community activities most citizens do by sharing time and treasure. Second, their community service is an extension of who they are and the specialized work they do and love. They share their talent. For example, most people donate to a clothing or food drive but could never help a veteran write a song about military combat experience as Rachel Brown has done. Both levels are evident in each RLT subject


Daily community service activities are the ones most community members do on a regular basis. These are the heart and soul, the bread-and-butter service activities of most communities. For most people, this is how they share their time and treasure. Treasure is shared in the ways people donate to causes such as clothing drives, fundraisers, and food banks. It is also tithing at church and donating to veterans’ groups. Time is shared in the many ways people volunteer to assist various community causes, coach youth sports teams, and help in all sorts of ways. Volunteerism is an essential part of a healthy community.


RLT subjects contribute to their communities through daily activities like everyone else. They also go beyond the daily community participation to share their time and unique talent. They contribute activities that are specialized to their expertise and experience. For RLT subjects, specialized community service is an extension of who they are as people. They leverage their professional lives for the betterment and enhancement of their communities.

The following examples indicate how RLT subjects share their time and talent based on the work they do. Few of us can contribute to our communities in these ways.


Is a dance program that brings dance/movement to students with limited exposure to the arts. One of the founders of the program is Kara Stewart (Volume 9), a dance professor at Akron University. She uses her extensive education and experience in dance to guide instructors who provide classes to elementary students throughout Northeast Ohio. Few people could lead ArtSparks to the success it has had but Kara can. 

Yes I Can Dance

Joan Meggitt (volume 19) created and delivers this dance program for InMotion in Warrensville Heights. She is a teaching member of Dance for PD program created to help people with Parkinson’s disease feel better each day. Participants experience dance in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating, and unique. In the process, stretching, muscle strengthening, balance, and coordination are improved through this program.

Project Drew

Is part of the Music on a Mission initiative based in Avon Lake. It is named after Drew Ferguson, an Army war Veteran. The program brings song writers and combat veterans together to write songs about the veterans’ military experience. Delivering Restorative Energy to our Warriors aims to use the gathering power of music to honor and energize American service members. Rachel Brown (Volume 18) helps veterans write songs about their war experience. She can do this because she has a gift for music and song writing. 

Grill for Good

Is an excellent example of how a RLT subject leverages administrative and leadership skills. Marilyn Sessions (Volume 14) and her husband Brian love to grill so they started Grill for Good to raise money for various causes in the Kent area. They enlisted the support and interest of numerous people and groups (Kent Jaycees for example) to assist them. Each year, one Saturday in downtown Kent is devoted to the outdoor event. In 2019, the 9th year for the activity, Grill for Good provided $10,000 to Family and Community Services of Portage County. 

High School Bowling

Bill White (Volume 17) leaned on his many years of bowling experience to help establish boys and girls high school bowling programs throughout Northeast Ohio. As a professional bowler and owner of bowling centers, he set up leagues, tournaments, and even created scholarships for students in six Portage County high schools. 

Many people have talents they can share with their communities. Like RLT subjects, they can leverage their talent and experience to go beyond their daily sharing of time and treasure. The more people who share time, treasure, and talent, the healthier and more vibrant the community will be. Future installments in this series will explore how failure is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow.

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