In Ontario, about 9/10 adults have high school diplomas. The 1/10 who don’t face challenges and difficulties unique to them.
Clearly, there are many benefits of having a high school diploma. That’s what we’ll look at here, as well as why it may be a good idea to take online classes for high school credits in addition to classes at a traditional brick-and-mortar high school.
First, though, it’s worth exploring why students in Canada drop out of high school, despite the benefits of a high school diploma.
Why Do Students Drop Out of High School in Canada?
Dropping out of high school before obtaining a diploma is not so much a sudden decision as it is a gradual process, and there are many reasons why students end up dropping out.
According to Statistics Canada, dropout rates are higher among males than females.
When asked why they dropped out of high school, females are more likely than males to cite family or personal reasons, including problems at home, caring for children, and pregnancy.
Males dropouts are more likely to say their reasons for dropping out are work-related, although, for both males and females, hours worked per week correlate with dropout rates. Students who work 20 hours or more are less likely to obtain high school diplomas.
Interestingly, the reasons why teachers believe students drop out of high school differ from the reasons students believe they drop out. Teachers tend to blame parents for not being involved enough in their children’s educations or providing sufficient levels of support. Students, by contrast, blame a variety of school-related factors, among them:
- Difficulty with peers
- Difficulty with teachers
- Insufficient counselling support
In Ontario, students from low-income brackets are more likely to drop out of high school without obtaining a diploma than students from higher-income brackets. The same is true for:
- Students from single-parent homes
- Students whose parents have not completed some form of post-secondary education
- Students whose first language is not English
Students from low-income communities face more barriers to their high school education than more privileged students. For instance, some lack financial stability and easy or affordable access to transportation or nutritious meals. They also lack access to information that enables more privileged students to navigate the world of education, like general admission information for high schools.
Behavioural factors also play a role in why students in Canada don’t finish high school, according to Statistics Canada.
To be clear, only some high school dropouts display what may be termed problematic behaviour, and the reasons are incredibly complex. Nonetheless, a student who disobeys rules at school and at home is more likely not to obtain a high school diploma.
For instance, high school dropouts are more likely to skip class, be kicked out of class, or get in trouble with the principal; and high school dropouts are more likely to stay away from home past curfew.
Students who drop out before obtaining a high school diploma in Canada demonstrate lower levels of self-perception. Specifically, they demonstrate lower levels of:
In addition, more dropouts believe they are not “smart enough” for university.
According to Statistics Canada, students who drop out of high school feel that their school is not a friendly environment and that they are not respected by their peers.
Dropouts are less likely to participate in activities outside of school, including clubs, music and art lessons, sports, and volunteer work.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
In Ontario and the rest of Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only intensified the reasons students were dropping out of high school before 2019; the pandemic has also created additional reasons for students to drop out. For instance:
- Teachers are unequipped to adapt to online teaching models
- Students, surrounded by distractions, struggle to pay attention
- Students cannot access helpful resources (e.g. science labs)
- Students lack motivation
- Students have lost their social lives
- Students heavily rely too heavily on technology
- Students cannot participate in school sports, bands, plays, and other extracurricular activities
- Students who don’t live in large homes lack the space required to focus on their studies (this is especially true for low-income students)
As a result, for students, the pandemic has negatively impacted:
- Mental health
- Relationship with parents
- Relationships with friends
Not surprisingly, since the onset of the pandemic, high school dropout rates have increased.
The Benefits of a High School Diploma
Our purpose in talking about the reasons why students drop out of high school, as well as the ramifications of doing so, is not to be all doom and gloom. High school dropouts can enjoy good lives. And, it’s important to point out, students who drop out of high school can finish high school as mature students by, for instance, taking Ontario high school credits online.
However, generally speaking, it is true that Canadians with high school diplomas benefit in many ways that dropouts don’t.
Specifically, Canadians with high school diplomas benefit from:
- Better skills
- A lifetime of learning
- More career opportunities
- Higher pay
- Higher self-esteem
- Easier admission into post-secondary schools
High school is an academic place, but it also teaches students practical and hands-on skills.
Consider the importance of learning math. Students who learn basic arithmetic skills carry these skills into everyday life. They are better able to do their taxes and manage their money. The arithmetic skills they learn in high school last a lifetime.
Many high schools also teach students essential hands-on skills, like how to cook, cut wood, or even check a car’s oil.
Learning to read and think critically, which students learn in high school, is both an invaluable academic and practical skill. When students learn to read and think critically, they are better able to interpret everyday life in more nuanced, sophisticated ways.
Not only that, but the skill of critical thinking empowers students to better communicate their ideas and thoughts and better understand themselves—skills that are valuable in all areas of life, including the workforce.
A Lifetime of Learning
It’s true that education doesn’t stop in the classroom, but is rather a life-long process. When you understand how to think critically, you understand how to learn at all stages of life.
Consider high school students who are taught to read critically. They may carry this skill into their post-secondary education, where it will help them absorb and do well in the subjects they choose to pursue.
If these students go on to, say, law school—where they’ll spend most of their time reading and writing— their ability to read and write critically will enable them to understand and interpret difficult court cases, speak eloquently about these cases in class, and write coherent and persuasive papers.
Later, when they become practicing lawyers, their ability to write and think critically will empower them to select evidence, argue persuasively on behalf of their clients in court, and write concise and coherent legal documents like memos, statutes, contracts, wills, and judgments.
Throughout their life, students’ ability to think critically will benefit them in most if not all areas and endeavours, and possibly make them all-around better people and employees, more capable of handling life and work, and more confident in doing so.
More Career Opportunities
A high school diploma opens doors that remain closed for those who drop out. High school is not merely a means to an end, but it is a road toward a better future.
Adult Canadians without high school diplomas qualify for far fewer jobs, and the jobs they do qualify for tend not to pay well or offer benefits.
In the United States, high school dropouts are almost three times more likely to be unemployed by college graduates. The poverty rate for high school dropouts is more than the poverty rate for college graduates. The numbers aren’t so dissimilar in Canada.
Not only that, but North Americans without high school diplomas show higher rates of crime, lower rates of social participation, reduced intergenerational mobility, and reduced levels of health.
People with high school diplomas demonstrate higher levels of self-esteem than those without. This includes mature students who graduated from high school later than the average person in Canada.
Graduating from high school can prove to students that when they work toward achieving their goals, they can accomplish them. This boosts their self-esteem and teaches them the virtues of work.
The Benefits of Taking Online High School Courses
Those are only some of the many benefits of having a high school diploma, but taking OES online courses in addition to high school classes from another school may greatly benefit for students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, there are benefits unique to eLearning from online high schools like OES:
- Encourages and rewards self-paced learning
- The opportunity to get ahead
- Different classroom dynamics
- Equal opportunities
- Attention to learning types
- Tracked progress
Encourages and rewards self-paced learning
Self-paced learning refers to students according to their own schedule and timeline, rather than according to a set schedule or curriculum. When students self-learn, they work through courses and course units at their own pace, so long as they finish the course by a certain deadline. That’s how it works at OES.
At a traditional high school, either in-person or online, students are expected to move through course material at a uniform pace, as though all students naturally learn at the same speed. One of the problems with this learning model is that when students fall behind in one unit, they may spend the rest of the course trying to play catch up.
With self-paced learning, by contrast, students benefit from spending more time on units they find difficult and less time on units that come more easily to them.
The opportunity to get ahead
For gifted students who are impatient with the pace of a class, self-paced learning can be a welcome change, as it allows them to move more quickly through course material.
When they do so, they may linger on the material they find particularly interesting and plow through the material they don’t. Alternatively, they may plow through all the material to free up more time for other courses, extra-curricular activities, and the like.
When they finish a course and would like to move on to the next, upgrading courses at OES is easy.
eLearning at OES benefits students by offering them the flexibility to choose not only the pace at which they proceed through course material, but also the kind of courses they select. That is, with eLearning at OES, students get to choose whether they wish to take self-study or instructor-led courses.
More, when students take OES courses online, they may choose course material based on their own expectations and needs, and access all course documents from one place.
Different classroom dynamics
Students who learn online at OES aren’t distracted by other students. Neither do they need to spend time on such things as commuting to and from school.
For students who are bullied, struggle to fit in, or experience social anxiety severe enough to get in the way of their studies, eLearning benefits them by providing a welcome reprieve.
Students in small or rural low socioeconomic school districts face barriers to their education that other students don’t. eLearning at OES gives these students a level playing ground by offering courses that they otherwise could not take. These students benefit from the same quality of education that more privileged students receive, increasing their chances of reaping the benefits of a high school diploma and going to pursue post-secondary education.
Attention to learning types
Different students learn in different ways. One teaching method that works for one student won’t work for another.
Unfortunately, in traditional high schools, teachers tend to adhere to a one-size-fits-all pedagogical approach. This leaves students who don’t mesh with the pedagogical approach behind or alienated.
With eLearning at the best online schools, teachers can cater to different learning types, so that their students benefit from learning in the ways that best suit them individually.
eLearning at the best online schools also offers support that traditional high schools do not. For instance, through OES, students can access 24/7 tutoring services.
More, students can reach out to their teachers online for quick, personalized assistance. In doing so, they learn how to identify when they need help.
Yet another benefit to eLearning is that, compared to traditional learning, tracking progress is easier. Online learning platforms use integrated learning management systems that provide frequent, automatic updates on the progress of their students, which students can see themselves.