The Reality of Dropping out of High School

Teagan Mclennan, Journalist

According to US News, Fruita Monument High School is the 130th best school in Colorado, but 11% of our student body does not graduate. 

While the high school diploma is a piece of paper that is obtained once completing a certain class load, the General Education Development, or GED, is a series of tests that one must pass in order to say to employers or colleges that they have the equivalent of a high school education. There are various reasons for one to dropout of high school, and while it has been seen as a negative choice in life, can that actually be concluded?

While the GED does take less time to achieve, it can send the wrong message to employers. According to the National Bureau of Economics, writers Stephen Cameron and James Heckman said “Whatever differences are found among exam-certified equivalents, high school dropouts and high school graduates are accounted for by their years of schooling completed. There is no cheap substitute for schooling.”

The main reasons schools see people drop out can be broken down into if they were pushed out, chose to pull out or fell out. According to the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC), the being pushed out happens when the school expectations could not be met. Being pulled out involves other factors that get in the way of schooling, such as a job or pregnancy. Lastly, falling out occurs “when a student does not show significant academic progress in schoolwork and becomes apathetic or even disillusioned with school completion.”

All are valid reasons; however, the largest reported reasons for dropping out of school are “Missed too many school days, 43%” frequency, “Thought it would be easier to get a GED, 40.5%” frequency, and “Was getting poor grades/failing, 38%” according to NDPC.

While the school attempts to create opportunities to make these things rare, they do occur. One student who would have been in the class of 2022, made the decision to leave school in their junior year. The anonymous student said “I only regret dropping out because of things like sports and clubs.” The student said that they enjoyed having their time now, and they spent it mostly on work.

However, making such an impactful life decision can come with some negatives. There is a stigma that comes to students who decide to make this choice. Many people don’t see the hardships that a student may face when they make this decision, and therefore don’t take that into account. 

Former students often conclude that dropping out wasn’t all negative, but they warn against it for current students. As said by a former student, “if you just don’t like school, then don’t do it.” As well as, “talking with your parents and having a plan for afterwards” will lead to a better transition and give students more stability while making the decision.  

While dropping out can have benefits, the four years spent in high school will pay off more in the long run than a GED or equivalent would. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “High school dropouts are 72% more likely to be unemployed as compared to high school graduates.” There are many opportunities in school that are here to help you succeed in your high school career. Staff encourages students to look into counseling, rescheduling, and talking to parents and peers about how to plan for success. 

The school offers tutors to help students keep up in classes, and counselors are prepared to help you switch classes around with parent approval after a point. Counselors are also there to help students deal with situations that arise outside of school. These counselors can show you how to balance parts of your life around school, that way you can still get an education, and not worry about opportunities being held back from you in your future.