A century ago, only about a fifth of 15- to 18-year-olds in the United States attended high school, and less than a tenth of 18-year-olds graduated.
Simply put, getting a high school diploma wasn’t viewed as necessary back then for most people to get a job.
But enrollment began to grow shortly after that period as more high schools were built and governments placed more emphasis on encouraging children to attend school and get their diplomas.
Free public education increasingly was viewed as a ticket to better jobs and through the decades that followed. By 1940, nearly three-quarters of America’s teens were enrolled in high schools.
Fast forward to today, however, and the high school diploma doesn’t carry as much weight any more. In fact, having some post-secondary education is viewed as crucial for most people to make a decent income.
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