Young People Ask
Should I Quit School?
At what grade do you think you should leave school?
At what grade do your parents want you to leave?
DO THE two answers above match? Even if they do and you’re still in school, you may have days when you wish you could quit. Can you relate to the following comments?
● “Sometimes I’d get so stressed out that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I’d think, ‘Why do I need to go to school and learn things that I’m never going to use?’”—Rachel.
● “Many times I’ve been tired of school and just wanted to drop out and get a job. I’ve felt that school was doing me no good and that I would rather be getting paid for my time.”—John.
● “I had up to four hours of homework a night! I became so bogged down with assignments, projects, and tests—all back-to-back—that I felt I couldn’t handle it and wanted out.”—Cindy.
● “We’ve had a bomb threat, three suicide attempts, one actual suicide, and gang violence. Sometimes it just got to be too much, and I wanted to leave!”—Rose.
Have you faced similar challenges? If so, what situation has made you want to quit school?
Maybe you are now seriously planning on quitting. How, though, can you tell if you’re leaving because it’s time to do so or because you are just sick of school and want out? To answer that, it would help first to define what it means to quit school.
Leaving or Quitting?
How would you describe the difference between leaving school and quitting school?
Did you know that in some countries it’s normal for a youth to graduate after between five and eight years of instruction? In other lands, students are expected to stay in school for ten to twelve years. So, there is no set age or grade that applies to everyone equally around the world.
In addition, some countries or states may allow a student to take some or all of his or her classes from home, without going to a regular school. Students who are homeschooled—with their parents’ permission and cooperation, of course—are not quitting.
However, if you’re thinking of ending your school career before you graduate—either regular school or school at home—you need to consider the following questions:
What does the law require? As mentioned, laws governing the amount of schooling a student must have differ from place to place. What is the minimum schooling that the law in your area requires? Have you reached that stage yet? If you ignore the Bible’s counsel to “be in subjection to the superior authorities” and you leave before that grade, you are quitting.—Romans 13:1.
Have I achieved my educational goals? What are the goals that you want your education to help you achieve? Not sure? You need to know! Otherwise, you’re like a passenger on a train who has no idea where he wants to go. So sit with your parents, and fill in the work sheet “My Educational Goals,” found on page 28. Doing so will assist you to stay focused and will help you and your parents to plan how long you should stay in school.—Proverbs 21:5.
Your teachers and others will no doubt give you advice on how much schooling you should have. Ultimately, though, your parents have the authority to make the final decision. (Proverbs 1:8; Colossians 3:20) If you leave before you reach the educational goals that you and your parents decide upon, you are quitting.
Write here the honorable reasons you might have for ending your school career prematurely.
Write here some selfish reasons for quitting.
What honorable reasons did you write down? A couple of possibilities might be to help support your family financially or to engage in volunteer work. Selfish reasons might be to avoid tests or to escape homework. The challenge is to discern which is your primary motivation—is it honorable or selfish?
Look again at the points you wrote down, and honestly rate from 1 to 5 the reasons you want to quit school (1 indicating less important, 5 most important). If you drop out just to escape problems, you are likely in for a shock.
What’s Wrong With Quitting?
Quitting school is like jumping off a train before you reach your destination. The train may be uncomfortable and the passengers unfriendly. But if you leap from the train, you will not reach your destination and will likely cause yourself serious injury. Similarly, if you quit school, you may not reach your educational goals, and you will probably cause yourself both immediate and long-term problems, such as the following:
Immediate problems You will likely find it more difficult to get a job, and if you do get one, it will probably be lower paying than one you might have obtained if you had completed your schooling. To support a basic standard of living, you may then have to work longer hours in surroundings that will likely be even less pleasant than your current school environment.
Long-term challenges Research shows that those who drop out of school are more likely to have poorer health, have children at a young age, end up in prison, and have to rely on social welfare programs.
Of course, completing school is no guarantee that you’ll avoid those problems. But why unnecessarily handicap yourself by dropping out?
Benefits of Not Quitting
True, if you’ve just failed a test or had a difficult day at school, you might want to give up—any future problems may seem insignificant compared with your present grind. But before you take the “easy” option, consider what the students quoted earlier say about how they benefited because they did not drop out of school.
● “I’ve learned endurance, to be mentally tough. I’ve also learned that if you want to have a good time doing something, you have to make it happen. Along the way, I’ve improved my art skills, which I will use when I graduate from school.”—Rachel.
● “I now know that if I work hard, I can reach my goals. I’m taking a very practical technical training course in high school that will help qualify me for my preferred job as a press mechanic.”—John.
● “School has improved my problem-solving ability, whether in the classroom or elsewhere. Figuring out ways to deal with academic, social, and physical challenges has really helped me to mature.”—Cindy.
● “School has helped prepare me for the challenges of the work environment. Also, I faced many situations that forced me to examine the reasons for my faith, so being at school has strengthened my religious convictions.”—Rose.
Wise King Solomon wrote: “Better is the end afterward of a matter than its beginning. Better is one who is patient than one who is haughty in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) So rather than quit, patiently work through the problems you face at school. If you do, you will find that the end afterward will be much better for you.
More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
TO THINK ABOUT
● How can having short-term educational goals help you to make the most of your time at school?
● Why is it important for you to have some idea of the type of employment you would like to have after you leave school?
[Box/Pictures on page 27]
WHAT YOUR PEERS SAY
“School is where I learned to love books. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to understand someone’s thoughts and feelings through reading.”
“I tend to have trouble managing priorities. But without school, I’d be worse! School helps me keep a routine, stick to a schedule, and get the important things done.”
[Box on page 28]
MY EDUCATIONAL GOALS
A primary function of education is to prepare you to find a job that will help you support yourself and provide for any family you may eventually have. (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12) Have you decided what kind of job you want and how your time at school can help you prepare for it? To assist you in determining if your education is leading you in the right direction, answer the following questions:
What are my strengths? (For instance, do you interact well with people? Do you enjoy working with your hands, creating or fixing things? Do you do well at analyzing and solving problems?)
What jobs could I do that would allow me to use my strengths?
What employment opportunities are available where I live?
What classes am I now taking that will prepare me for the job market?
What educational options do I currently have that would help me reach my goals more efficiently?
Remember, your goal is to graduate with an education you can use. So don’t go to the other extreme and be a perennial student—one who stays “on the train” indefinitely just to hide from the responsibilities of adulthood.
[Box on page 29]
A NOTE TO PARENTS
“My teachers are boring!” “I get too much homework!” “I struggle just to get passing grades—why even try?” Because of such frustrations, some youths are tempted to quit school before they have acquired the skills they will need to make a living. If your son or daughter wants to quit school, what can you do?
Examine your own attitude toward education. Did you view school as a waste of time—a ‘prison sentence’ that you had to endure until the day you could pursue more interesting goals? If so, your attitude toward learning may rub off on your children. The fact is, a well-rounded education will help them acquire “practical wisdom and thinking ability”—qualities they will need in order to be successful adults.—Proverbs 3:21.
Provide the tools. Some who could be getting better grades simply do not know how to study—or they do not have the appropriate environment for it. A good study area might include an uncluttered desk with sufficient light and research tools. You can help your child to make advancement—whether secular or spiritual—by providing training and the right setting for pondering over new thoughts and ideas.—1 Timothy 4:15.
Get involved. View teachers and guidance counselors as your allies, not your enemies. Meet them. Know their names. Talk to them about your child’s goals and challenges. If your child is struggling with grades, try to determine the cause. For example, does your child feel that excelling at school will make him or her a target of bullying? Is there a problem with a teacher? What about the courses? Your child should be challenged by the curriculum, not overwhelmed by it. Another possibility: Could there be an underlying physical cause, such as poor eyesight or a learning disability?
The more involved you are in your child’s training, both secular and spiritual, the better chance your child has of success.—Proverbs 22:6.
[Picture on page 29]
Quitting school is like jumping off a train before you reach your destination