Why should students do well in school, graduate high school, or go on to college? In this activity median earnings by various education levels are explored. Students compare the earnings of a non-high school grad with workers who graduated high school and/or went on to complete higher education degrees. Hopefully, after completing this lesson, students will have a little more motivation to do well this school year and in the future.
Getting educated isn't all or only about money. Education offers us the opportunity to do what we want for a living or the opportunity to choose from a variety of occupations that interest us. The bottom line, getting an education offers people greater opportunity to make a good, stable living and to do work that they enjoy and find meaningful.
One final thought: you don't have to go to college to have a high paying or rewarding career. There are plenty of success stories about people who didn't go to college or didn't finish college. There are many avenues for landing a good career. Highly trained and skilled workers such as electricians, plumbers, mechanics, inventors, dental hygienists, computer geniuses and more have careers that are high paying and rewarding. Of course the catch is, even in these careers, people still need to "learn".
Consider starting the lesson with this blank bar graph to compare education level with earning possibility. Ask students to predict the median salary for each education level by placing a dot where they think each bar will reach. Thanks to Dan Meyer and Geoff Krall for this idea.
The math activity: pay-to-get-educated2019.pdf
Ken Waldman of Newton Public Schools, modified our 2016 post to make it a little easier for his students. This is his modification. His data needs updating: does-it-pay-to-get-educated-Waldman.pdf
For members we have an editable Word docx, an Excel sheet of the data that we found with a chart, and solutions.
CCSS: 4.OA.2, 5.NBT.5, 6.RP.3, 6.NS.3, 6.SP.3 6.SP.4, 6.SP.5, 7.SP.4, MP1, MP3