NDPC/N Commentary, Published: September 20, 2013
Take a look around social media sites, blogs, microblogs, discussion boards, etc. and you will see numerous discussions on the merits of staying in school. Particularly heated can be arguments on attending and completing college. But even the merits of staying in and completing high school are being questioned by many youth. OnYahoo! Answers and other sites, you’ll see questions such as “Why is school so boring?” and “Should I drop out of high school?” There is even a wikiHow titled “How to Drop Out of High School: 9 Steps (with Pictures).” Recently, a young Hollywood star with quite a few followers tweeted, “If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.” Web sites throw up the same list of famous actors and celebrities who made it big despite dropping out of high school; however, it is interesting to note that many of those on the list would not recommend dropping out of high school and many of them went on to earn GEDs or even honorary higher education degrees. Some even went back for high school diplomas after they became famous.
The National Dropout Prevention Center encourages a healthy discussion, particularly if such a discussion will lead to better understanding of why students drop out of school and a better understanding of how to make more evident to youth the value and efficiency involved in completing a formal education. We especially welcome the student voice and students’ participation in these discussions. However, any discussion should begin with some facts:
All of this is not to say that alternative routes to becoming educated and becoming a productive and fulfilled member of society are not possible. However, care must be taken not to assume if something is good for a few, it must be good for all. Youth who may not see the value in formalized education might better understand the issue if they were to spend a day or so with someone who does not know how to read, write, or perform basic calculations. Illiteracy and lack of education comes with significant barriers to functioning in today’s complex society. Consider the skills involved in creating and following a budget or filling out any kind of application. There are significant and real struggles that many face due to lack of education.
Idealism vs. reality: these are the things with which teenagers often wrestle and The National Dropout Prevention Center encourages youth to continue to question, but also to ground their conclusions in reality.
Several important and key questions for school teachers, counselors, and administrators, as well as policymakers, should be: