A Lesson on: The Reasons to Stay in School

Now that students have covered the basics, they move on to cover a number of specifics about the real world and the reasons to stay in school: the life of a drop out and the risks of trying to live on minimum wage. They will then explore comparable levels of education for blue collar work, likely income and jobs, and what they can afford.

The Reality Road Map provides many of the answers here as well.

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Introduction to Independent Life – Part 3 of 5

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Minimum Wage & the Red Box

Open the Reality Road Map and look at the red box. Notice “Expenses for a Single Person Living Independently.” When you add up rent of $7500 a month, food at $20 a day, clothing at $1200 a year and car, gas and insurance at $500 a month, your expenses will be $23,500.00 a year. Entertainment, health insurance, utilities and miscellaneous things like music CDs or dating are all extras! This shows some of the reasons to stay in school: so you can afford what you want in life.

(Some states have a higher or lower minimum wage. You may need to adjust these estimates for your area.)Look at “AVERAGE Minimum Wage $6.00 per hour.” When you multiply $6.00 by 50 hours you’ll make $300 gross income a week. Some jobs may offer 40 hours or less. You will have to pay taxes on your earnings of approximately 15% or $45.00, so your take-home pay will be about $255 per week. After working for 52 weeks, or one full year, your net income will only be $13,260 – which is over $10,000 short of the minimum you need. The bottom line is that you cannot afford to live independently on a minimum wage job. These show some of the reasons to stay in school.

As an example, let’s work out the hourly wage needed to live independently and at the same time buy a $1000.00 stereo. To buy the stereo you have to save whatever money is left over after you pay your living expenses ($23,500.00 a year + 15% taxes = $27,025.00 per year). Divide $27,025 by 52 weeks in year: you’ll need to earn $519.71 per week, or $10.39 per hour if you work a 50 hour week. In order to save one dollar an hour for your stereo, you would have to earn $11.39 per hour. After working and saving for 1000 hours you can buy the stereo. 1000 hours of work at 40 hours per week equals 25 weeks of work or one week short of 1/2 year.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is

Total yearly net income of someone working at minimum wage is

The total expenses for a single person living independently are

Dropping Out & the Red Circle

The red circle shows the earnings and the lifestyle of a non-graduate. If you don’t finish high school, you will typically work in a minimum wage job; an unskilled laborer makes $5.75 an hour (or, in some states, $6.50, $6.75, and over $7.00).

Picture yourself going out on a cold morning and doing yard clean up or waiting on tables all day. When you add up your pay as an unskilled laborer for the year, you’ll make about $13,200.00 before taxes (or about $15,000.00 in states with higher minimum wage). This is assuming someone will hire you without a high school diploma!

Military service is disappearing as an option for non-graduates. All of the services are requiring a 4-year high school diploma or a G.E.D. with some college courses.

For non-graduates, real world choices are very limited! They are getting tougher and more competitive every day.

Education level of a person in the RED circle is

Workers in the RED circle are usually called

An example gross salary in the RED circle is

The starting gross income of a non-graduate is

Explain what the RED circle means to you.

Blue Collar Work & the Blue Circle

If you finish high school, you will have the opportunity to work as a blue-collar worker.

Blue-collar workers, including trades people, complete additional vocational training and qualify for apprenticeship programs to become carpenters, electricians, plumbers or truck drivers. They often work with their hands as skilled laborers and earn more money than unskilled laborers.

See for yourself the lifestyle you could have as a blue-collar worker.

What is the education level of a person in the BLUE circle?

Give three examples of a blue-collar worker from the True Life Chart:

An example gross salary in the BLUE circle is

Blue collar workers are sometimes called

Blue collar workers usually work with their

and most of the time, make more money than

Someone in the military is in which colored circle?

Explain what the BLUE circle means to you. Describe a few reasons to stay in school: