What Percent of High School Dropouts Are Successful

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Title: The Path Less Taken: Assessing the Success of High School Dropouts


The decision to drop out of high school is undoubtedly a significant one, carrying long-term implications for an individual’s future prospects. However, it is essential to recognize that success is not solely determined by obtaining a high school diploma. In this article, we will explore the notion of success among high school dropouts and shed light on the factors that contribute to their achievements.

Defying Stereotypes:

It is a common misconception that high school dropouts are destined for failure. While dropping out of school certainly presents challenges, success stories of those who have overcome these obstacles are abundant. The definition of success varies from person to person, and it is crucial to understand that success can be achieved through alternative pathways.

Factors Influencing Success:

1. Motivation: Many high school dropouts possess an intrinsic motivation to succeed and pursue their passions. This drive often results in the acquisition of skills and knowledge through alternative means.

2. Entrepreneurial Spirit: Dropping out of high school can ignite an entrepreneurial spirit within individuals, leading them to establish successful businesses or ventures.

3. Apprenticeships and Vocational Training: Some dropouts opt for apprenticeships or vocational training, gaining hands-on experience and specific skills that are highly valued in the job market.

4. Personal Circumstances: Certain individuals face extenuating circumstances, such as financial hardships or family obligations, which require them to prioritize immediate needs over completing high school. Despite these challenges, they can still achieve success through determination and resilience.

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The Statistics:

Determining the exact percentage of high school dropouts who achieve success is challenging due to the subjective nature of success and the lack of comprehensive data. However, studies indicate that a significant portion of high school dropouts go on to lead successful lives.

According to a report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, around 45% of high school dropouts between the ages of 18 and 24 were employed in 2019. This suggests that a significant percentage of dropouts find gainful employment and contribute to the workforce.


1. Can high school dropouts still pursue higher education?
Yes, high school dropouts can still enroll in community colleges, trade schools, or pursue alternative education programs to obtain degrees or certifications.

2. Are there successful high school dropout celebrities?
Yes, several well-known celebrities, such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, dropped out of high school but went on to achieve immense success in their respective fields.

3. How does dropping out affect earning potential?
On average, high school dropouts tend to earn less than their counterparts who complete high school. However, success is not solely defined by income, and many dropouts have achieved financial stability through alternative means.

4. Can high school dropouts join the military?
Yes, high school dropouts can join the military but may need to meet specific requirements, such as obtaining a GED.

5. Are there successful high school dropout entrepreneurs?
Yes, many successful entrepreneurs, such as Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates, dropped out of high school and went on to build successful businesses.

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6. Are there government programs to support high school dropouts?
Yes, various government programs and initiatives offer support, including GED preparation, vocational training, and career counseling.

7. Do high school dropouts face challenges in finding employment?
While dropouts may face challenges in finding employment, gaining relevant skills, certifications, and building a strong network can significantly improve their job prospects.

8. Can high school dropouts still pursue higher education abroad?
Each country has its own requirements for higher education, but many universities and colleges accept applications from high school dropouts who have completed alternative education programs.

9. Are high school dropouts more likely to be involved in criminal activities?
While statistics indicate a higher risk for criminal involvement among dropouts, it is crucial to remember that success is possible for anyone, regardless of their education background.

10. Can high school dropouts become successful in creative fields?
Yes, creative fields often value talent, skills, and experience over formal education. Many successful artists, musicians, and writers are high school dropouts.

11. How can high school dropouts overcome the stigma associated with their decision?
By showcasing their skills, accomplishments, and determination, high school dropouts can challenge societal attitudes and demonstrate their potential for success.

12. Is success as a high school dropout solely dependent on individual effort?
While individual effort is essential, a supportive network, access to resources, and opportunities can significantly enhance the chances of success for high school dropouts.


The percentage of high school dropouts who achieve success is difficult to quantify, as success is subjective and multifaceted. However, countless individuals have defied the odds and achieved success, both personally and professionally, despite not completing high school. By acknowledging their potential and providing support, we can foster an inclusive society that recognizes alternative paths to success.

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