How to Convince Teens to Stay in School

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of teenagers who drop out of high school is around 8 percent. That means that for every 1,000 out-of-work individuals, 80 are facing an already difficult-to-crack job market without even the most basic education. Parents and teachers can unite to convince these kids, one by one, that staying in school is the best choice for their future success and happiness.

Step 1

Determine the reason or reasons why the student wants to drop out. The majority of kids who decide to drop out of school do not do so because they have a better option. They drop out because they don’t want to stay in. Some reasons are more easily fixable than others, but without knowing what is causing teenagers’ distress, it’s difficult to convince them to stay in school. These reasons could include bullying, boredom, academic issues, relationship conflicts, financial problems or myriad other possibilities.

Step 2

Take steps to rectify any problems your teenager identifies as the reasons he wants to quit school. Although you may not be able to immediately solve these problems, for some kids it may be enough to know that someone is taking his worries seriously and working to make changes. Students might need extensive counseling or regularly scheduled tutoring. In some cases, parents might need to consider transferring their child to a different school. For example, a student dealing with peer pressure issues in a public school might do better in a private school environment. Other kids might flourish in a vocational or technical school. In some areas, charter and alternative schools are available. In some cases, home schooling might be an option.

Step 3

Set up opportunities for the student to speak with people from diverse educational backgrounds. Have her talk with a few students who dropped out of high school over the past five years and hear about their experiences and challenges. Find some college students who graduated from the student’s high school, and set up a dialogue. Consider taking a trip to a college campus or two to get a first-hand look at what college life is like.

Step 4

Give student’s statistics about salaries in a reader-friendly form; for example, Parade Magazine’s annual article “Real People, Real Salaries” interviews Americans in various jobs and reports on the wide range of salaries, most of which bear a direct relationship to their educational backgrounds. Generate discussion about such financial topics as minimum wage and the poverty rate.

Step 5

Explain to the student that parental support will be in place as long as formal education is taking place. In other words, a teenager who decides to quit school is saying that he is done with education and is ready to be on his own. Create a budget together, explaining that if he decides to work, he will need to pay for rent, utilities, car insurance, health insurance, groceries and so on. Let him know that if he wants to continue living at home he will probably have to hand over most of his paycheck to you as a contribution to his part of the household expenses.

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