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7 Warning Signs Your Child Wants to Drop Out of School

School isn’t always easy and the COVID pandemic has only made it more stressful for high school and college students. As students have had to navigate a switch from in-person to online learning and back again, their resources have dwindled and so has motivation for many.


The pressure to succeed academically has been growing for students who fell behind during the pandemic and missed long stretches of school and were absent from local resources like textbooks, teachers, counselors, in-person learning, and more. Dropout rates have been increasing for both high school students and college students across the US. Many parents are asking “why do kids drop out of school” in an attempt to encourage their child without applying more pressure. 


We help out students and parents by providing academic resources like school partnered teen therapy and academic assessments to get government-provided assistance and resources. If you’re looking to avoid high school dropout or college dropout, take a look at 7 early warning signs your child wants to drop out.


By getting ahead of the problem you can encourage academic success, get help from your local school, and see your child through graduation without causing anxiety or depression from falling behind.

7 Signs A Students Want to Drop Out of School

1. Refusing to Go to School or Increased Absences 


The first early warning sign that your teenager may want to drop out of school is refusing to go – or skipping a lot of school after you’ve dropped them off.


It is normal for kids to have off days or be uneasy during certain parts of the school year. Continued refusal or fighting to go can indicate a deeper level of discomfort and aversion, however. Kids who constantly feign sickness, leave class, or attempt to get out of school on a regular basis are doing so for an underlying reason that could prompt a dropout from their high school or college. 


As a parent, you want to try to discuss why your child is having an aversion to their school. Is it the other students, a teacher, falling behind, feeling pressure, or something else. Kids won’t always discuss their issues up front so working with a teen therapist can be a huge help to getting resources for helping your child feel motivated and secure in their environment.

2. Change in Attitude Around School


Kids who are considering dropping out of high school or college will often display a change in attitude toward academics. This is not always sudden and can actually happen over a long stretch of time. If your child was highly motivated even a year ago but has withdrawn over several months or an entire year, this could be a sign that something isn’t as compelling as it used to be.


You can look for signs like their grades, reports from teachers, how they discuss school, how they act getting ready or coming home, and what they choose to share. Even the most motivated and academically minded kids can be compelled to drop out if they are suffering from mental illness, feeling let down, being bullied, or more.

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3. Stops Discussing School


Conversations around school are not always positive but kids who stop talking about school at all could be having a change of heart about staying enrolled. High school dropouts and college dropouts are likely to stop discussing school as they consider their options.


Even if your child was never big on discussing their day-to-day, a total absence of conversation around school is something to be aware of. Kids may be considering different paths, looking at life outside of school, and more.


Remember that kids who drop out of high school or drop out of college are looking for other avenues of success so they will change the subject so school doesn’t seem like such a focus in their life. 


4. Lack of Sleep, Changes in Eating, Withdrawn


It is rare that a student who drops out of high school or college does so with enthusiasm. Largely, students who want to drop out of high school are agonizing over the idea or what is pushing them toward that course of action. This will appear as physical symptoms that you can be on the lookout for.


Children and teens will likely change their eating habits, eating more or less than normal on a consistent basis; sleep patterns will change and may include insomnia or oversleeping; becoming withdrawn is not uncommon, whether it’s from family, friends, or hobbies.


Many high school dropouts are born out of mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression. Many physical symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap, giving you a clue that your child is unhappy and may be looking for a change to improve their mood. 

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5. Drop in Grades


When a teen considers dropping school, it can be preceded by or followed by a drop in grades. Students who were once high achieving may fall to accepting lesser grades and kids who were scraping by may begin accepting failing grades without much care.


While many other factors can contribute to a drop in grades, like mental illness or excessive pressure, this can be a warning sign of high school dropout consideration. For college students, a change in grades can mean the same thing.


As parents, you want to be in tune with how your child is performing. Poor grades may be the reason they begin considering dropping out or it could be the sign that they are already withdrawing their energy and considering other options.


6. Poor Behavioral Reports from School


Kids who don’t want to be in school will behave poorly in school. Teenagers act out against other students and teachers when they aren’t paying attention to their schoolwork. 


By creating an open avenue of conversation with your child’s teachers, you will be able to be alerted to changes in behavior. Kids may be reported as being disruptive, distracted, or unengaged. You want to check in quarterly if you notice any changes and be proactive in finding the why behind your kid’s actions. 


7. Over Stressing On Academic Performance 


While this may seem counterintuitive, students who are overly stressed about their performance in school are often likely to consider dropping out of high school or college. Feeling overly pressured to perform at a certain level can make teens burn out, feeling deflated and unmotivated. If the pressure they feel leads to anxiety or depression, dropping out will seem like a reasonable action to feel better.


As a parent, you want to find the balance of support without being overly concerned or pressuring your child to the point of failure. At The Family, we work with parents and kids to find a balance to help kids succeed without burning out and creating an aversion to school or other learning environments. 

Get Help If Your Child Wants to Drop Out of High School

The Family Center is located in Ellicott City, MD and is staffed with teen counselors who are familiar with working with academic pressure and burnout. Helping a child change their mind about school can be difficult once they’ve begun to withdraw, act out, and let their grades fall.


It is important to help your student succeed before the path back feels insurmountable. At The Family Center, our teen therapist can provide academic assessments to help get school-provided resources, we work with teachers for well-rounded support, and we open up conversations about how to communicate about school struggles.


You are not alone, seek assistance today and get your child back on track to success.

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