Why Students Drop out

John enjoys spending the majority of his time in front of a television, playing video games.  On school nights, he can be found in that exact same spot until anytime from midnight until 4:00 in the morning.  He drags his feet to school every morning off as little as three to five hours of sleep and sits in the front of nearly every classroom because his teachers notice he has trouble staying awake.  As the year goes by, his grades begin to deteriorate.  He seems unmotivated to become a better student.  Teachers and classmates struggle getting to know John because he’s quiet, mainly from being tired all the time.  When approached with the question regarding his future and finishing school, John replies, “I don’t need it.  I want to be a Video Game Tester.”  John is simply unmotivated and, sadly, drops out a few shy months of graduation.  Why? 


I’m still considered a novice to teaching, but over the past six years as a classroom teacher in different K-12 settings, I have seen a great deal of unmotivated students.  It’s not easy to teach the unmotivated student, but sometimes that little extra boost helps steer a student away from dropping out.  When students aren’t given that extra boost to succeed and push forward, they often lose even more interest than what they lacked before.  We seem to live in a very independent world today that says, “If you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it.”  Teachers and parents need to place positive motivators within the classroom and at home in order to keep their students moving forward and wanting to go to school.  Without motivation, success is often unreachable.  Without teachers and parents helping to motivate, students may wonder if school is really worth it. 


As I mentioned earlier, we seem to live in an independent world, which is also somewhat scary.  Anymore, television shows, movies, music, and social networking makes it difficult to truly teach kids the difference between right and wrong.  We went from peace and partying in the 70s, to rock in the 80s, to pop and hip hop in the 90s, to telling people off and living as a free spirit in the 21st century.  Two of the most popular shows I’ve listened to students discuss in the hallway include “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom”.  As much as I’ve enjoyed an episode or two of each of those shows, are they really teaching the youth what is right?  The teenagers in those shows seem more independent than anything else.  Other popular television shows amongst today’s teens thrive off partying, sex, drugs, gangs, and bullying.  Is this what we are wanting to teach them?  Listen to many of the lyrics that are popular today by Lady GaGa, T-Bone, LMFAO, Pink, Gym Class Heros, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, T-Payne, Katy Perry, etc.  A lot of the lyrics involves partying, telling people off, being independent, standing up for yourself, being number one, looking out for number one, etc.  I love those songs, but they don’t always give a positive light to what is right and what is wrong.  I remember hearing a popular artist say on television that the media and the music industry isn’t responsible for today’s youth; however, I beg to differ.  I enjoy the same songs those students do, but I am also an adult and realize that when Pink tells says, “Raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways…,” or B.o.B. sings, “All we do is pour it up all night, drinks up,” I don’t need to party to be cool.  Teenagers don’t understand that.  The media places so much stress on standing up for yourself, partying, and having sex that they forget their main audience, teenagers.  Is that what we should be teaching them?  Partying and telling the boss to shove it?  Dropping out of school to become something else?


I often wonder why some students in the classroom act disrespectful and don’t care what their grades are, but then I meet their parents.  As much as I hate to point fingers, the truth must come out at some point.  I’ve seen some students who honestly don’t have a good home life.  A few of those students have to be the adult themselves and take care of their younger siblings.  Others have parents who like to have a few drinks every night and forget they actually have kids.  Some have parents who dropped out of high school themselves and managed to make a living doing odd jobs or working from home.  Rural students often have jobs waiting for them at the farm and, if encouraged by their parents, will drop out at a certain age to help their parents without finishing school.  Sometimes the reason for dropping out has a valid argument, but most of the time, allowing your own kid to drop out of school is a terrible decision.  Parents often are the decision-makers in regards to a student’s education.


Just as an office worker can struggle daily with the decisions of a boss or administrator, students can also experience a similar discomfort.  When students repeatedly struggle with a certain teacher or principal, they do not feel that sense of safety that is crucial in the learning environment.  Students who struggle with their teachers feel that they are picked on or set out apart from the other students because they are either constantly getting in trouble or have a feeling or inferiority.  Constant struggle with superiors in the workplace often leads office workers to locate other jobs; however, constant struggle within the classroom for a student can easily lead the student to leave the school for another one or even drop out.


Whether it’s little, rude comments in the hallways or writing unnecessary slams on Facebook walls and statuses, being the victim of bullying hurts.  Not only does it lead students to feel unaccepted and inferior, but it also can lead them to completely quit school or, worse yet, hurt themselves.  Over the years, I’ve seen bullying all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade.  I can see why some students drop out due to this major issue, especially those who have been bullied from the first day they walked into their kindergarten classroom just because they didn’t fit in, according to the dominant class bully.  Who wants to spend nearly eight hours of every single weekday being picked on and bullied?  Dropping out seems better to those who are bullied than sticking around to feel inferior and picked on every single day.

Why did John drop out?  It could have been because he doesn’t have a parent at home to tell him he needed to stay in school.  Maybe it was because he struggled with his teachers and the principal due to the fact that he never got his homework done.  He was unmotivated, but could it have been prevented?  Only John knows, but there are ways to help the other students who are on the verge of dropping out.  Just one little boost or one nice word can make a difference.