Friday, June 25, 2010

Is dropping out of high school a good option?

A few weeks ago, Ericka Lutz wrote an intriguing piece for Parent Dish, about her daughter dropping out of high school -- and how she supports her teen's decision to do so:

Parenting a teenager is all about trust. I can't force Annie to go to school, though I tried. I can't force her to want to be in school, and unless she wants to be there, she won't go. I trust my daughter's instincts, and I know that a path is not always linear. And she comes from a strong family tradition of alternate paths. It took me nine years to get my BA and I ended up with a successful and creative career. Her father didn't start community college until he was 24. By the time he died, he was the special adviser to a head of state.
I see her point, but I'm not sure I agree. There's more to high school than just academics, in my opinion: There's self discipline, perseverance, collaboration, cooperation, and basically learning how to learn. Not every child is able to gain those skills on his or her own.

In Lutz's case, her daughter may already have advantages that other teens don't -- including a parent who is willing to let her find her own way (rather than pave the path for her). That might not seem like an advantage, per se, but in the grand scheme of things, it is. "She has a job, and she's pursuing her dream of becoming a professional actor," Lutz writes. "She has to learn what she wants and needs in life, and she has to work for it herself. I will support her in whatever endeavor she chooses -- but the impetus must come from her, not from me."

Over at In the Parenthood, my readers had a lot to say about Lutz's decision. Some said they'd insist on their child earning a GED; others pointed out that if the child is having difficulty in school, homeschooling is always an option. Another said that school is her child's job, and they have a responsibility to get through it -- though the parents has a responsibilty to get them the resources they need in order to do so. My friend Phe, who took what she calls "a VERY non-linear path in my life when I left my parents' home at age 15.5," pointed out:

The reality of today's world is this: It requires a master's or higher to make any real "success" in many fields - and those can be obtained with out a HS diploma in hand.

But it is entirely possible to be successful with a mere GED provided you are willing to do the work otherwise. This woman's daughter already has her GED and she's got family support.

Parents, what do you think? Would you support your teen's decision to drop out of high school? Why or why not?


Anonymous said...

Although I can't say much about being a parent to a teenager, since my daughter isn't 2 years old yet, I still remember when I was one myself. I was lucky to have an opportunity to go to college ( I was only 15, without ever getting a high school diploma, and I'd do it again. I think for some kids high school just doesn't work, both socially and academically. I wish more teens had the opportunity I did. Oh, and being a high school drop-out with a PhD is sorta neat ;)

Anonymous said...

i agree im still in high school and about to drop out its more complicated than it looks most people dont really understand how it just doesnt feel right to be in school. in my opinion