Sometimes, you might have no choice but to drop out of high school. This article explains how to do it without stress.
Obviously, you should give it a lot of thought and be aware of the consequences. However, if dropping out of high school is your choice or you need to do so, here are steps to help you go through this process.
You need to consider a few things, including legal obligations, a plan for completing your education, and finances.
Dropping out of school is a serious decision with consequences for many people: yourself, your parents, the school, and even the local government.
Many resources are dedicated to re-engaging students in a school; you may be offered alternative schooling or mentoring.
These are valuable opportunities, and you should take your time to consider all the pros and cons.
If you’ve already made up your mind, then read on about your obligations.
When can you drop out of high school?
In general, you have the legal obligation to attend school until you are 18 years old. If you are not attending school regularly, you are considered truant.
Truancy is a legal offense that may have many serious ramifications for you and your parents or legal guardian(s).
Therefore, if you want to drop out of high school before your 18th birthday, you need to get your parent’s permission.
Then, your parents have to withdraw you from high school officially.
Officially withdrawing means that a school transfers your education’s legal responsibility to the parent or legal guardian.
The school needs a written statement from the parents that this transfer is happening.
As long as the school has this written statement of official withdrawal and acceptance of responsibility, they will not consider you absent from school.
It means there is no truancy, and you’re dropping out legally. If you are under the age of 18 and want to sit for the GED® exam, you’ll need parental consent and permission from your school district.
Dropping out when you are 18
Obviously, if you are 18, you don’t need your parents’ permission to drop out legally.
However, it would be best if you still inform the school about your decision. Don’t just stop coming to school. Every school participates in a dropout prevention program, and school officials must notify the parents if a student stops attending school.
School officials also attempt to meet in person with you and your parent/guardian.
During the meeting, you will be given “Facts about Dropping Out of School” and get informed about the disadvantages of dropping out and the possibilities if you continue your education.
If you know and understand all these facts, you can send the following email/letter to your teacher or principal.
“This letter is to notify you that I am withdrawing from school/I am choosing to drop out of school. I don’t believe that there is anything at this time that can keep me in school.
If you have any questions, please send them to me in writing. Thank you.”
When your school is notified that you are dropping out, they will send this information to the Dropout Prevention and Recovery Office, and you are officially out of school.
Keep in mind that you are entitled to a free, full-time public education in most states until the age of 21. So, you can still come back if you change your mind, but there are also adult high schools for students older than 21.
Talking to your parents
It’s important that you explain to your parents why you are dropping out. Their support is crucial, so you should prepare well for this conversation. Your parents will ask for the reasons, and you should be able to show that you understand the consequences of your actions and that you are actively working on solving the issues.
For example, if your decision to drop out is related to bullying, stress, or anxiety, it could help if you get familiar with techniques for managing stress. There are a few apps that can help you with it. We like Bloom and Woebot; both apps are available on iPhone and Android.
Then, in your conversation with your parents, you can tell them what steps you are taking to improve your well-being. It would be best if you also had plans for continuing your education.
The most logical solution is to commit to taking the high school equivalency tests: GED or HiSET. Upon successfully passing the GED/HiSET test, your state will issue a High School Equivalency Diploma. This diploma has the same value as a traditional high school diploma, so you to apply to college, etc.
Preparing for high school equivalency tests
We advise you to get your High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma as soon as you can.
To get your HSE diploma, you don’t need to attend any classes or get credits, but you need to pass the 4 independent GED® subjects tests. Some states use a different exam for getting a High School Equivalency diploma: the HiSET® exam, which includes 5 subtests.
The GED and HiSET subtests can be taken online or at a state-designated testing center. The TASC exam is not offered any longer.
The price of taking one GED subject test is about $30, some states offer discounts, and there are also states that offer HSE testing for free to their residents. In general, the HiSET is slightly cheaper. For your state, check here.
The HSE diploma has the same value as a common high school diploma and is accepted by the vast majority of colleges and employers.
If you need extra lessons before the exams, you can choose online GED classes such as Onsego and get ready for the GED or HiSET tests in a few weeks.
Instead of getting a GED, you can attend an online high school to earn credits to complete your high school education. There are also some pretty good online high school programs available.
Getting a job after dropping out
Getting a job without a high school or GED (HSE) diploma can be hard. Therefore, we recommend getting your GED diploma as soon as you can. Today, practically all jobs, also at the entry level, require applicants to have at least a high school or equivalent degree.
However, if you are not ready for this step yet, there still are options open to you on the job market.
Successful high school dropouts
Many successful people dropped out of high school, earned a GED, and became very successful or famous later on in their lives.
Keep in mind that only a few of your failures will be fatal and that success often comes from fixing our initial mistakes rather than doing things right the very first time.
Some well-known high school dropouts include Eminem, who dropped out at 17, and Michael J. Fox, who had almost finished high school when he decided to set out for Hollywood to pursue his career.
Nicolas Cage quit high school prematurely and Nicolas earned his GED diploma before pursuing an acting career. Also, Paris Hilton dropped out of high school (the exclusive Dwight School) and ultimately earned a GED.
Cameron Diaz dropped out of high school at the age of 17. The actress admitted that school wasn’t just her thing and quit high school after being offered a contract as a model, and also Richard Pryor never completed his high school education.
If you want to read more about famous and successful Americans who never completed their regular high school education, check out this post.