KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Who are you? Who who, who who?
But we really do wanna know. Because if you are someone who doesn't plan to graduate high school (and yeah, it's highly unlikely you'd be reading this paragraph if you were one of those people), then the world is just going to look fundamentally different from that of someone planning to go to grad school after college. Especially when viewed through tinted windows.
To frame things a bit, consider some stats:
- # of students graduating from high school in calendar year: 3.2 million
- # of high school graduates who go on to college: 2.2 million (68.1%)
- % of female high school graduates moving on to college: 74%
- % of male high school graduates moving on to college: 62.8%
- % of those enrolled in college who are full time students: 90.4%
- % of those enrolled in college who are attending 4-year institutions: 60%
- Unemployment rate for recent high school graduates not enrolled in college: 33.4%
- # of students who drop out of high school in a calendar year: 340,000
- Labor force participation rate for recent dropouts: 53.9%
Not everyone who has an opportunity to go to college decides to go, and not everyone who has an opportunity to go to a really good college takes advantage. For those at the lower end of the spectrum, if you got absolutely horrid grades, acquired no scholarships, your family has no money, and your parents don't want to take out any loans because your father needs you to come work for him in his factory… then you might just be SOL. (Too bad you didn't realize the importance of those grades and scholarships before it was too late. The post office is still hiring, though. Not. They are more in the “letting go” business than the hiring business these days.)
The top schools turn out the best candidates for the top jobs, but they also start with a pool of pretty darn spectacular students. They're incredibly picky about a prospect's high school academic performance, and if they see your report cards littered with B's - whether or not you came from a rough neighborhood where you get beaten up for anything better than a C+ - you're probably just going to be an afterthought. You might be proud of that B you got in biology - it might be better than any of your other siblings - but is that grade going to get you into med school? Is someone going to want a B student in biology operating on their kid? You may have successfully dissected a frog, but that thing had already croaked, so to speak. It didn't have much to lose.