How to Drop Out of High School [Without Stress]

Sometimes, you might have no choice but to drop out of high school. This article explains how to do it without stress.

Obviously, you should give it a lot of thought and be aware of the consequences. However, if dropping out of high school is your choice, or you need to do so, here are steps to help you go through this process.

You need to consider a few things, including legal obligations, a plan for completing your education, and finances.

Dropping out of school is a serious decision with consequences for many people: yourself, your parents, the school, and even the local government.

Many resources are dedicated to re-engaging students in a school; you may be offered alternative schooling or mentoring.

These are valuable opportunities, and you should take your time to consider all the pros and cons.

If you’ve already made up your mind, then read on about your obligations.

When can you drop out of high school?

In general, you have the legal obligation to attend school until you are 18 years old. If you are not attending school regularly, you are considered truant.

Truancy is a legal offense that may have many serious ramifications for you and your parents or legal guardian(s).

Therefore, if you want to drop out of high school before your 18th birthday, you need to get your parents’ permission.

Then, your parents have to withdraw you from high school officially.

Officially withdrawing means that a school transfers your education’s legal responsibility to the parent or legal guardian.

The school needs a written statement from the parents that this transfer is happening.

As long as the school has this written statement of official withdrawal and acceptance of responsibility, they will not consider you absent from school.

It means there is no truancy, and you’re dropping out legally. If you are under the age of 18 and want to sit for the GED exam, you’ll need parental consent and permission from your school district.

Dropping out when you are 18

Obviously, if you are 18, you don’t need your parents’ permission to drop out legally.

However, it would be best if you still inform the school about your decision. Don’t just stop coming to school. Every school participates in a dropout prevention program, and school officials must notify the parents if a student stops attending school.

School officials also attempt to meet in person with you and your parent/guardian.

During the meeting, you will be given “Facts about Dropping Out of School” and get informed about the disadvantages of dropping out and possibilities if you continue your education.

If you know and understand all these facts, you can send the following email/letter to your teacher or principal.

“This letter is to notify you that I am withdrawing from school/I am choosing to drop out of school. I don’t believe that there is anything at this time that can keep me in school.
If you have any questions, please send them to me in writing. Thank you.”

When your school is notified that you are dropping out, they will send this information to the Dropout Prevention and Recovery Office, and you are officially out of school.

Keep in mind that you are entitled to a free, full-time public education in most states until the age of 21. So, you can still come back if you change your mind, but there are also adult high schools for students older than 21.

Next steps: high school equivalency

After making this important decision about dropping out, you should have a plan for the next steps. We advise you to get your High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma as soon as you can.

To get your HSE diploma, you don’t need to attend any classes or get credits, but you need to pass the 4 independent GED subjects tests. Some states use a different exam for getting a High School Equivalency diploma: the HiSET or TASC exams that include 5 subtests.

The GED and HiSET subtests can be taken online or at a state-designated testing center. The TASC exam is not offered in an online format.

The price of taking one GED subject test is about $30, some states offer discounts, and there are also states that offer HSE testing for free to their residents. In general, the HiSET and TASC exam are slightly cheaper. For your state, check here.

The HSE diploma has the same value as a common high school diploma and is accepted by the vast majority of colleges and employers.

If you need extra lessons before the exams, you can find many free preparation programs offered by community colleges or local educational centers and this website also offers lots of free online video lessons and practice tests.

Instead of getting a GED, you can attend an online high school to earn credits to complete your high school education. There are also some pretty good online high school programs available.

Getting a job after dropping out

Getting a job without a high school or GED (HSE) diploma can be hard. Therefore, we recommend getting your GED diploma as soon as you can. Today, practically all jobs, also at the entry-level, require applicants to have at least a high school or equivalent degree.

However, if you are not ready for this step yet, there still are options open to you on the job market. Check this post for a list of suggestions about jobs with and without a GED.

Successful high school dropouts

Many successful people dropped out of high school, earned a GED, and became very successful or famous later on in their lives.

Keep in mind that only a few of your failures will be fatal and that success often comes from fixing our initial mistakes rather than doing things right the very first time.

Some well-known high school dropouts include Eminem, who dropped out at 17, Michael J. Fox, who had almost finished high school when he decided to set out for Hollywood to pursue his career.

Nicolas Cage quit high school prematurely, and Nicolas earned his GED diploma before pursuing an acting career. Also, Paris Hilton dropped out of high school (the exclusive Dwight School) and ultimately earned a GED.

Cameron Diaz dropped out of high school at the age of 17. The actress admitted that school wasn’t just her thing and quit high school after being offered a contract as a model, and also Richard Pryor never completed his high school education.

If you want to read more about famous and successful Americans who never completed their regular high school education, check out this post.