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Sometimes, school doesn’t feel like the right fit, and for some of us, that means dropping out.

But what happens when you want back in?

If you’re reading this, you likely found that dropping out didn’t turn out as you had hoped.

Whether you left to do an apprenticeship, traineeship, another line of work, or simply just wanted out of school, it’s okay if you want to come back and finish.

Right now, you might be feeling embarrassed that things didn’t work out or be doubting if the school will let you back in, but just remember:

“He who makes no mistakes never makes anything.”

Life’s a journey, it’s okay that you took some different routes. With a bit of direction and drive, you’ll get to where you want to go, so let’s get you there.


Animation of different lines criss crossing across the word life to show that life's a journey

I want to go back to the same school?

To get back into the same school, it will depend on your school’s requirements, but typically, this will involve a re-entry interview with the principal and will likely require you to repeat the grade you left.

While repeating may sound like a step back, just know that you’ll have the advantage of already knowing your way around the school as well as the teachers and students. It also helps that you’ll be able to see your friends on a regular basis!

I don’t want to go back to the same school

If you’d rather leave the past in the past and start afresh, that’s fine as well. You and your parents/guardians will need to speak with the new school and you’ll likely need to discuss your past performance and the reason why you want to come to their school. To find a range of schools in your area and the best contact for each via the State Schools regional office contacts.

Depending on your circumstances, there’s a bunch of other ways to study including:

  • Distance learning
  • Centres for continuing secondary education
  • Special assistance schools
  • Other alternative education options

It’s best to speak to a guidance officer or the regional student services team before considering these options.

What about the over 18s?

If you’ve taken a few years away from school, don’t worry, there are options for mature aged students including:

  • Enrolling at a state school as an adult student
  • Doing distance education from home
  • Centres for continuing education
  • Going via TAFE

If you’re hoping to do tertiary study, we should point out that you don’t necessarily have to finish high school. There are bridging courses available; just speak to your preferred uni or training provider about it.

Still feeling unsure?

If you’re still feeling a bit uneasy about the thought of going back into education, don’t stress – it’s a big thing to adjust to, but help is available if you need to get some thoughts off your mind; just take a look at our support section.

Good luck!

Quotes from those who have dropped out and gone back to school:

“When I came back to school, my old Teachers weren’t judging me…they just wanted to help and see me do well. It felt a bit weird at first, but I realised people were on my side, so I settled back in quickly.” – Tom, 16.

“It’s been awesome seeing my friends on a day to day basis again – I really missed that.” – Alice, 17.

“I dropped out to look after my new-born daughter when i was 17…two years later, i’m doing long distance from home – it’s perfect for balancing being a mum and school.” – Gina, 19.