Reasons Students Drop Out of High School

Reasons Students Drop Out of High School

Reasons Students Dropout of High School

Every year, many students drop out of high school and don‘t get their GED. Each individual faces a different set of circumstances and challenges that leads to this decision. What are the reasons students drop out of high school? Reasons students drop out of high school vary. Here are common factors that lead to dropping out of high school. Let’s take a look at them:


First, the transition to high school is very difficult for many. Many students struggle academically and socially in the first year of high school. Due to this transition, research suggests that the first year of high school is the most difficult for students. Suddenly, these changes turn into challenges and often the students never quite manage to adapt. This leads them to drop out (van Rens, Haelermans, Groot & Maassen van den Brink, 2017).


Next, there is the push and pull factors. Both factors contribute to the decision to leave school (Boylan & Renzulli, 2016). Push factors are those that come from within the school.


  • Disciplinary actions, including expulsion
  • Conflicts with teachers
  • Conflicts with other staff members
  • Other issues, such as:
  • Students feel the school doesn’t want them there anymore
  • Many students refuse to submit to disciplinary actions

Therefore, the student is forced to leave or just leaves.


On the other hand, Pull factors are those that entice the individual to drop out. They are associated with perceived costs and benefits of staying in school versus choosing another path:                            pregnant school reasons student drop out

  • For example, a girl who gets pregnant and might get married may be encouraged to drop out. As a result, her pregnancy means she will now have a family to care for and take up her time. Consequently, a baby won’t leave her much time to studying anymore. Thus, she might feel that staying in school is just not worth it.
  • Likewise, another pull factor is if someone has to work to help their family or wants to work because it feels more useful.

Notwithstanding, the Push and Pull Factors contribute to students being pushed out of school or pulled out by the enticement of the prospect of a job. In addition, the students transitioning to high school while confronting other life situations make it difficult for students to study as well. These are all common reasons for dropping out of school (Boylan & Renzulli, 2016).

Specifically, academic difficulty is a more important factor in students dropping out of school. A study found that those who dropped out of those high school were mostly students who felt that they were falling behind or were failing (Lockett & Cornelious, 2015).


Furthermore, research shows that students underestimate their real abilities in achieving academically. In short, although a student was doing average work, they would still feel they were not smart or good enough.

On the other hand, another study found that students who believed in their own abilities, had a genuine interest in classes, expected to graduate, and anticipated to going to college were much more likely to graduate (Fan & Wolters, 2012).

This means the beliefs that a person has about their academic skill and ability to graduate directly influences whether they choose to continue studying or not.


However, a student‘s perception of their ability and future in education don’t just appear out of nowhere. Usually, these are influenced by what their teachers and parents believe about their academic skills. If parents and teachers are supportive, then students are more likely to stay engaged. Teacher and parental support are essential factors, and a lack of either and especially of both is a strong predictor for dropping out (Ricard & Pelletier, 2016).


Finally, there is boredom. Many students cite boredom as a reason for dropping out of school. This boredom is tied to a lack of motivation and engagement (Weinerman & Kenner, 2016). Students are bored and they leave, especially if one or more of the above factors are present.      

Also, a bored student who gets pregnant might decide that she was doing badly in school anyway and just drop out. Of course, there are many other factors that can contribute to this outcome.


When we look at the reasons students drop out of high school, there is no one single reason. Instead, there are various causes that can influence one another. For example, take a student who is doing poorly in class. This student also comes from a struggling family and knows that his teachers and parents aren’t invested in his education. If that student sees an opportunity for a job, he will probably take it.

Dropping out of high school can have a variety of consequences:

  • Opportunities for employment are limited. 
  • Better-paying and higher-level jobs usually require at least a GED, but usually a college diploma as well.
  • Advancements, promotions, and opportunities may be denied to someone who doesn’t have a high school degree.
  • Additionally, people often have prejudices against those who didn’t finish high school.

Finally, the lack of a diploma can create social problems. The good news is that a lot of the factors affecting a teenager or young adult becomes less important in adulthood.


In conclusion, an adult without a high school diploma hopefully is better able to weigh the consequences of their past choices. Perhaps now, this high school dropout is ready to commit to a study program. They have access to more resources that can help them finish their GED even if they sincerely believed they had valid reasons for dropping out of high school.

Take this time that is still given to you and contact one of the listed schools for help in getting your GED.



Boylan, R., & Renzulli, L. (2016). Routes and Reasons Out, Paths Back. Youth & Society, 49(1), 46-71. doi: 10.1177/0044118×14522078

Fan, W., & Wolters, C. (2012). School motivation and high school dropout: The mediating role of educational expectation. British Journal Of Educational Psychology, 84(1), 22-39. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12002

Lockett, C. & Cornelious, L. (2015). Factors contributing to secondary school dropouts in an urban school district. Research in Higher Education Journal, 29.

Ricard, N., & Pelletier, L. (2016). Dropping out of high school: The role of parent and teacher self-determination support, reciprocal friendships and academic motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 44-45, 32-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2015.12.003

van Rens, M., Haelermans, C., Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (2017). Facilitating a Successful Transition to Secondary School: (How) Does it Work? A Systematic Literature Review. Adolescent Research Review, 3(1), 43-56. doi: 10.1007/s40894-017-0063-2

Weinerman, J., & Kenner, C. (2016). Boredom: That Which Shall Not Be Named. Journal Of Developmental Education, 40(1), 18-23.



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