So you’ve been feeling a lot like taking the leap and leaving school?
Before making such a massive decision here are some ideas to help make sure you have covered off every angle, so you make the right choice.
Have you dug down deep underneath your feelings, to see what is causing them?
Sometimes, when things feel desperate, it’s hard to see clearly, and we just want to find the easiest escape route to make things right and feel okay again.
There are different reasons why we might not like the way school makes us feel.
- being overwhelmed by schoolwork
- thinking I am not a good learner
- finding things at home make school too hard
- having feelings of failure
- feeling lost and directionless
- can’t cope
These are all very valid (and common!) feelings for most of us at some time in our schooling life. But they sometimes have underlying causes that may not be fixed by dropping out. Dropping out may actually make these feelings worse.
For example, will you feel more or less lost if you drop out? Let’s face it, who wants to replace existing bad feelings with new ones?
The good thing is these feelings can sometimes be turned around with the right help. Have you tried talking to a friend, or explored what help is available? It would be good to check the reasons why you feel the way you do.
If you could fix the reasons you want to drop out, would you stick it out?
Whatever the reasons, have you thought about what would happen if those reasons no longer stood in the way?
What would school look like then? Is there a path you could plot out that could make that happen?
There might be something else you can change to make school a better experience. Is there someone who can help you plot the path, so you feel more in control?
What happens after dropping out?
Some kids who drop out are successful in their lives (whatever that looks like for them).
BUT many change their mind and regret not finishing school. Some come back pretty quickly and re-enrol to do classes with the cohort one grade down, and some come back a bit later as mature-aged students. Some students struggle to find any path forward once they leave school.
Dropping out can impact the types of options you have in life – and at a time when it’s totally normal not to know what you want out of life, it’s good to give yourself heaps of options.
Finishing Grade 12 is one thing you CAN do that will make a difference to what sort of life and opportunities you might end up having.
Maybe talking to people you know who have dropped out will help you get the real story about what happens after dropping out?
What’s the plan for what you will do?
If there is no plan, dropping out can mean suddenly having nothing to do and no friends to be with during the day.
Being at home all day after dropping out can increase anxiety because there is more time to dwell on things, not to mention being boring. Being isolated from friends is not fun.
How will you fill time if you are not at school? If you don’t already know where you’re headed, and you lose the routine of school, will it make you feel even more lost?
Will you have support for your decision? And if not, how will you handle that?
Remember that thing about replacing one bad feeling with another? As much as dropping out might fix one issue, it can potentially create other problems. It can also open up a whole can of worms with family and friends. What you feel is important and should be heard, so think about the conversations you will need to have and where you can turn to for support.
Basically, being in school may sometimes seem like the worst option, but before making a massive decision, it’s worth thinking through the reasons and the consequences of dropping out.
Next options are to:
Chat – The school counsellor, a trusted adult, friends, family members – it’s important to get your feelings heard so you can apply those emotions positively toward making the best decision for you.