When your teen announces that she wants to drop out of school, it's difficult not to feel like you failed. Dropping out of high school is likely to decrease her job prospects and earning potential throughout her life. Though some kids just aren't cut out for traditional schooling, it's essential that you work with your teen, supporting her to build a better life for herself, whether that means encouraging her to stay in school or to look at other options.
Making School Better
Talk to your teen about his reasons for quitting school. In some cases, he might want to drop out due to a specific problem at school that you can work to rectify. For example, if he wants to quit because others kids are bullying him, you can talk to the school's administration about stopping this. If he's struggling academically, a tutor can give him the confidence he needs to stay in school. If your teen is simply eager to start working right away, you might sway him to remain in school by showing him the statistics that indicate the great disparities in earnings among those who complete high school or college and those who don't.
If your child is struggling to get through a traditional school program, you might consider alternative schools in your area. For example, some cities have schools for teen moms that offer day care right in the school. A vocational school, on the other hand, could teach your teen skills that can help her get a good-paying job after she graduates. Other schools specialize in teaching students who are not succeeding in traditional school environments -- and these might be a better fit for your child.
If your child has the ability and interest to learn academic skills, but just isn't fitting in at high school for some reason, you might consider a homeschool program. However, in the teenage years, students don't necessarily need parents hovering over them and teaching them every concept. You might want to consider a fully accredited, diploma granting, online program that allows your teen to work at his own pace with a guided curriculum -- like the one offered at Stanford University Online High School. You can also hire tutors for difficult subject areas. State regulations for homeschool programs vary, so check with your state's homeschooling association.
Even if your child feels that high school is a waste of time, leaving school is going to close a lot of doors. Employers often won't hire someone who doesn't have a high school diploma -- and without a diploma, even community college isn't an option. However, passing the General Educational Development, or GED, tests, shows that a student has the same basic knowledge as a high school graduate. It is usually an acceptable alternative for job applications -- and almost every college or university accepts a GED for admissions, according to PBS.org. If your teen is set on dropping out, encourage her to take classes to get a GED.
- Jetta Productions/Lifesize/Getty Images