Why you should Stay in School

You should stay in school if it is the best place for you to be.

If.

So you have to decide. Is it?

Are you under 16? If so, schooling up to age 16 is compulsory in most of the U.S. If you’d like to get out legally you’ll have to talk a parent into homeschooling you.

Cameron is a bright fourteen year old living in Los Angeles. A year ago he was struggling in school, and hating it. Both his parents work and they thought homeschooling was not an option. Then Cameron’s mom heard about California Virtual Academy (CAVA), an online school that provides K12 materials and a teacher/mentor. Cameron left school and enrolled in CAVA. He can go with his mother to her office and do his work there, or stay at home when the next door neighbor is there in case he needs something. He doesn’t love CAVA’s program, but he does love that he can finish all his school work in 2 hours and have the rest of the day to read, skateboard, and play World of Warcraft. “School felt like such a waste of time,” he says. “Some kid is always disrupting class. It was pointless and boring. It’s still boring but now it takes 2 hours instead of 6.”

If you are at an age when you can legally leave school you have some thinking to do. What are you going to do if you leave school?

Do you have a passionate interest you want to pursue?

Are you tired of being treated like a child? Or are you struggling? Will your parents be supportive of other options? If you are highly motivated chances are you can get yourself a much better education outside school. Check out The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Education. It will give you ideas on how to seek out mentors, get training, experience, or get into college.

Fact: a high school diploma or GED are not required to get into many colleges.

You can leave school and start college right now. Most community colleges will allow any student who can handle the work to take classes. Harvard has never required a high school diploma.

Rachel, 16, is a passionate writer. She found the lack of seriousness of fellow students at school irritating, and considered much of her day wasted. With the consent of her parents she left school and began to take classes at the community college. She aced a journalism class and began writing for, and then editing, the college newspaper. She is writing a novel in her spare time. After two years she will transfer to one of the University of California campuses as a junior, at age 18.

If you are stuggling in school and have decided college is not for you, maybe it is time to cut your losses and begin studying a trade. You can train to be an electrician, plumber, computer programmer, brick mason, real estate salesperson (GED required in many states) and many other jobs that pay $20-$50/hour or more, without a diploma.

If, however, you just want to drop out and have no further plans, you may want to rethink. The statistics for drop outs are grim. A drop out without motivation, plans or support from family or mentors can expect low-wage jobs and disappointing prospects. If you don’t think you can cut your own path, or if you don’t have the support of your family in your decision to leave school, you may want to consider buckling down and getting all you can out of the years you have left in school.

School is a means to an end. You have to evaluate whether it is the right means to get you to where you want to be. If it isn’t, get out. If it is, make the most of it.