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A Dozen Dynamite Ways To Detour Dropouts

You may have read this headline in your local newspaper this week: "Dropout Rate Getting Worse." The article noted thatt despite all the advancements made in our society, we still do not know how to ensure that we fully educate all of our young.

The new studies show that fewer than half of the 9th graders in many of the nation's largest cities, ever graduate. The studies clearly show that the dropout rate isn't dropping. And, in particular, the dropout rate isn't dropping for poor and minority students.

Amazingly, though so many lament the rising dropout rate, our schools continue to lack formal plans-- or any plans-- to teach students motivation. Most schools have no game plan to ensure that students understand that school will be utterly essential to surviving and thriving in the new millennium. Schools expect youth and children to act as though school is important, but they never teach them to believe that.

Years ago, families ensured that their offspring recognized the value of school. Many contemporary families may fail to instill that outlook, or the family may actually convey to the child that school is not important. Since many families are not motivating their children to be involved, interested students, youth professionals, like teachers and counselors may need to provide this training. Otherwise, it is likely the dropout rate will continue to not drop, but only worsen.

Here are some attention-grabbing strategies to convince even the most apathetic student that they must stay in school. They are taken from one of my most popular books, "All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers." For details on this book, visit our web site.

** Ask students if they will ever need to work: The world has changed. 100 years ago, factory work was the booming job, and it required no education. Today, managing facts and data is the booming job as employment in the computer field grows at a rate of 77% . Meanwhile, factories are increasingly automated. Most computer-related jobs require education and at least a high school diploma.

** Ask students which century they will be prepared for: In 1900, the most common jobs were farm laborer and domestic servant-- education not needed. Now, the most common jobs are office and sales worker-- education and diploma usually needed. An amazing 6 out of 10 people today work in a store or office.

** Ask students to play the "Replace Me" Game: Have students name jobs and businesses that they can "always" do without a diploma. List their responses on the board. Ask the students to devise a way that the employee could be replaced. For example, the coming trend in fastfood is to use computers rather than people to run the restaurant. A prototype is apparently

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already being tested. The students should discover that most jobs that lack education and diploma requirements, may be ripe for automation.

Ask students who are considering dropping out, if they would rather take orders or give orders.

Speaking of giving orders, do your students know that the military almost always requires a high school diploma?

** Ask students to name all the jobs and businesses they may ever want to do: Then ask the students to determine how many of these jobs require a diploma or GED. Overwhelmingly, they will notice that many of the best-paying, highest status, most attractive jobs with the best pay, benefits and tenure, require a diploma to even apply. Assist students to realize that "dropping out leaves you defenseless."

Ask students to make a "ticket of admission" to the new millennium, which is essentially what their diploma will be.

** For students who claim they will not need an education, ask them to manage the following adult situations:
1 - Your car is hit and totaled. The insurance company wants you to take retail or wholesale value for your car. Which do you want?
2 - Your phone company is only accepting payment via the internet (a coming trend due in 5 years or so). How do you get an ISP and what is that?
3 - Your credit card company offers to let you skip a payment each December. Should you?
4 - You just won a free trip for 16 days to the Bahamas! It will cost just $155 each for up to 4 people. Isn't that a great deal?!

Answers: 1-Retail is much higher than wholesale, and is the much better choice. 2-You need an internet service provider to link you to the internet. 3-Never, interest accrues while you skip the payment. That $7 movie ticket that you charged could end up costing $39 if you pay slowly enough. 4- Can you spell "scam"?

Emphasize to your students that if they get an education, they'll learn the answers to these questions and/or how to get the answers. There are great ways to keep students for dropping out. You've just read a few of them.

About the Author: Get much more information on this topic at Author Ruth Herman Wells MS is the director of Youth Change, ( Sign up for her free Problem-Kid Problem-Solver magazine at the site and see hundreds more of her innovative methods. Ruth is the author of dozens of books and provides workshops and training.