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We’re approaching an amazing waypoint in American education history — and most people don’t even know it.

  • Danielle Stangler
  • December 13, 2019


Just about two years ago, for the first time in history, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that 90 percent of the population age 25 and older had completed high school. By contrast, in 1940, less than half the population had a high school diploma.

That’s amazing news. But let’s put that success in context. Out of 217 million people age 25 and older, 194 million have a diploma. And 23 million still don’t.

Now, of course we can subtract those who absolutely and positively believe they do not want or need a diploma; there are some people out there like that. There are a lot of successful Americans, especially those who were born before World War II, for instance, who were able to make a very good life for themselves without a diploma.

But we can also add the hundreds of thousands of young people under the age of 25 who are still leaving high school each year without a diploma. Surveys show that these individuals overwhelmingly say they would return to school if they felt like they had a way to do so successfully.

What this means is that there are still tens of millions of people in our nation who could benefit from a path back to school — and right now, most of them still don’t have that option.

But that’s changing, and it’s changing fast. Just look at what has happened over the past decade, for instance.

When Graduation Alliance was founded in 2007, our goal of building equitable paths to graduation for every American was a goal worth fighting for.

The question today is finding new ways to build those paths. Thankfully, we have a team of experts surrounding us to facilitate and build these paths. We have created a way to provide these services, get the word out, and assist students who deserve the opportunity.

There is still a long way to go. This journey won’t be over any time soon. But the fight to change hearts and minds across the nation has largely been won, and that’s the first step in a goal that is still worth fighting for.


Graduation Alliance helps create alternative paths for individuals who need flexibility and support to earn a diploma. Interested in learning more? Click here.