In today’s competitive world, a quality education is vital to building a meaningful career that will provide the necessary financial gains and amenities to live comfortably. Our parents may have done very well on less education, but research shows that workers with a college degree earn substantially more over their lifetimes that those without one. So when a child drops out of school, we see better than they do the limitations they may face both near and long-term. Here’s some advice that may help you think about how to respond when a child drops out of school.
Explore the Reasons
Do a little research to better understand the reasons behind the child’s desire to drop out. Ask the child questions about their personal reasons, but don’t stop there. Gather as much information as you can from a variety of sources. If you can, talk to classmates, teachers, friends and others who may be able to offer insights. Some of the key reasons kids drop out are:
- Feeling hopeless at inability to understand coursework and overwhelmed by deadlines/demands.
- Having difficulty with the schedule (i.e. getting up early).
- Lack of friends or feeling of belonging at school.
- Bullying at school.
There’s hope for kids experiencing any of these issues, but most kids are reluctant to speak up and small problems quickly escalate into large ones. For each of the issues mentioned above, there are solutions. It’s a matter of understanding the problem before you can identify solutions.
There are a growing number of alternatives to conventional high schools. The growing number of “alternative schools” suggests that trouble adapting to the time and structure of traditional schooling is a real issue for many kids. Alternative schools generally start later in the day (and continue later as well), and have a greater amount of flexibility related to structure. Quite often, kids who felt pressure and isolation at school will thrive in an alternative setting. Many go on to graduate and attend college.
Another option that works well for many kids is to get schooling through online programs. They allow kids to work at their own pace, completing units and testing on content as they are completed. There are a variety of programs available – some of them are free and others have tuition and fees associated with gaining access to the curriculum.
Many adult education centers in communities offer a GED (General Education Diploma) program in the evenings. While these programs tend to attract adults who are returning to complete high school many years after dropping out, they are also suitable for young kids who have recently left their school. This setting not only provides the instruction toward receiving a GED, but there are a variety of other classes typically offered at adult education and some can even lead to professional certification or exposure to trades and apprenticeships.
When a child drops out of school, they need to understand the repercussions as well as their options. Work with the child and provide love and encouragement to guide them. Hopefully, they will choose another educational option that will serve them better and positively shape their future.