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What Age Can You Drop Out Of High School?

Cases of teenagers dropping out of high school are not unusual. If you are a student contemplating leaving school or a parent who has a kid who wants to drop out of high school, you need to understand the ramifications of this action. 

In this post, we will look at what age you can drop out of high school and discuss other related topics such as the consequences of leaving school.

What Age Can You Drop Out Of High School?

What Age Can You Drop Out Of High School

In the US the minimum age that you can drop out of high school at 16, but in some states, you need to be 17, 18, or even 19 years of age. The age at which you can leave school depends on the state and school district in which you live. To curtail drop-out rates, the compulsory school age was increased from 16 to 17 or 18 in 32 states. 

If you haven’t reached the mandatory school leaving age, you will need parental consent, and meet several conditions, or be at risk of truancy. 

If you have completed a certain level of secondary education, you can take a standardized test and receive a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), the equivalent of graduation from compulsory education. 

Several states also allow gifted and talented students to accelerate their education so that they can receive a diploma before they reach the age of leaving school.

The age at which you can drop out of high school with parental consent is between 16 and 18, and it depends on the state in which you live. You can withdraw from school between the age of 16 and 18 before graduating but you must receive written permission from a parent or guardian, and meet with the school’s dropout prevention program officials with their parents or legal guardians.

You won’t need parental consent to drop out of school if you are 18. However, there are still certain conditions that need to be met. In most schools, students who want to drop out before graduation still need to meet state and school district conditions and meet with the school principal. 

Legal Age To Dropout Of School By State

Below you’ll find the legal age at which you’re be able to drop out of high school according to the NCES by state:

US StatesAge of Required School Attendance
Alabama17
Alaska16
Arizona16
Arkansas18
California18
Colorado17
Connecticut18
Delaware16
District Of Columbia18
Florida16
Georgia16
Hawaii18
Idaho16
Illinois17
Indiana18
Iowa16
Kansas18
Kentucky18
Louisiana18
Maine17
Maryland18
Massachusetts16
Michigan18
Minnesota17
Mississippi17
Missouri17
Montana16
Nebraska18
Nevada18
New Hampshire18
New Jersey16
New Mexico18
New York16
North Carolina16
North Dakota16
Ohio18
Oklahoma18
Oregon18
Pennsylvania17
Rhode Island18
South Carolina17
South Dakota18
Tennessee18
Texas19
Utah18
Vermont16
Virginia18
Washington18
West Virginia17
Wisconsin18
Wyoming16

What Age Can You Dropout Of High School In Texas?

In Texas, students are required to stay in school until they graduate or when they turn 19. Students at least 17 years old can drop out, providing they’re enrolled in a high school equivalency exam and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have written permission from their parents
  • They are homeless or living away from their parents

What Age Can You Dropout Of High School In Florida?

Students in Florida can drop out of high school at age 16 but they need the consent of their parents or legal guardians. They must also attend an exit interview where they will be advised on coping with life out of school or finding an alternative school to continue their studies.

High School Drop Out Rate

A recent study showed the dropout rate in the US was at 6%, a huge improvement compared to 15% in 1975. Some of the reasons for dropping out of school include school-related problems such as poor grades and truancy, employment of high school students, and issues like pregnancy.

How To Drop Out Of High School

How To Drop Out Of High School

Thousands of students drop out of high school every year but this does not mean they won’t be successful in life. Some students have legit reasons for dropping out of high school. For example, high school students from low-income families may leave school and seek employment to support their younger siblings.

If you are contemplating dropping out of high school, what’s the procedure? Let’s take a look at the entire process:

Drop out legally – In most states, you can legally drop out of school once you attain the age of 18 while in others, it is 16 and 17. Some school districts require you to have parental or legal guardian consent before dropping out. Remember, there are legal consequences such as suspension of your driver’s license if you drop out before attaining the legal age in your state.

Plan for the future – You need to think about what you’re going to do once you leave school. There are challenges such as employers who require a high school diploma. Consider what you will do after you leave school to ensure success in life.

Change schools – Some students drop out of school because they just don’t like the school due to issues like bullying. If this is the case, going to a different school, if possible, is the best option. You can also do your high school diploma online, go to an alternative school, or homeschool.

Enroll in a high school equivalency course – A good example is the General Educational Development (GED) course which assesses your basic knowledge of writing, reading, math, and sciences.

Get your ACT/SAT before leaving – If you want to go to a graduate school or program you will need a standardized test to get into these programs.

Watch this video on what you should know before dropping out of high school if you still want to go to college:

What Does Dropping Out Of High School Mean?

Dropping out of high school means leaving high school before graduating.

You will not graduate with a high school diploma unless you choose to continue with your studies elsewhere.

Leaving school puts you at a disadvantage as some employers won’t hire you.

Students who want to drop out of school need to be aware of the consequences.

What Happens If You Drop Out Of High School?

If you drop out of high school, you will not graduate with a high school diploma. 

You need to meet all the state and school district requirements or risk penalties for truancy.

You can choose to enroll in a high school equivalency course, finish your high school diploma online, or find employment.

Most high school dropouts tend to earn considerably less than their graduating peers.

You need to have a solid plan for life outside of school. If you have no goals, you have a higher chance of ending up homeless, unemployed, unhealthy, or even in jail. 

Benefits Of Dropping Out Of High School

Dropping out of high school means you will face challenges such as being unable to work for employers who require you to have a high school diploma. But leaving high school early can provides some benefits.

First, since you won’t be going to college, you will avoid paying college fees for many years once you get employed. Many graduates struggle to repay their student loans when they finish college. 

Secondly, if you choose to be an entrepreneur,  you will have adequate time to build a business empire. If you play your cards right, you will be miles ahead four or five years later when your peers complete their college studies.

The third benefit of leaving high school early is that it allows gifted students to join college earlier than your age mates. If you do the GED exam and pass, you can join many colleges and do a course of your choice.

Watch this video below that explains the GED vs High School Diploma:

How To Finish High School After Dropping Out

Dropping out of high school does not mean you will be unable to earn your high school diploma. Here are some ways to complete your high school studies after dropping out:

Join an online school – There are many online high school programs that will enable you to complete your high school studies. The classes are similar to those in high school, only that you do them online and set your own schedule.

Homeschooling – Here, your parents will be in charge of the rest of your high school education. This allows you to create your own learning experience. Today, there are hundreds of technical schools and colleges that accept homeschoolers.

Go to a different school – If you drop out because of a toxic learning experience at your school, a change of schools is probably what you need. Many students are able to complete their studies when they change schools.

People Who Dropped Out Of High School

People Who Dropped Out Of High School

Let’s look at some prominent personalities who dropped out of high school.

Billionaires Who Dropped Out Of High School

Billionaires who never finished high school studies and went on to build their business empires include:

  • Jay Z, an award-winning rapper and entrepreneur
  • Zhou Qunfei who owns Lens Technology
  • Amancio Ortega, the founder of Zara
  • Richard Branson who owns Virgin Group.

Celebrities Who Dropped Out Of High School

Celebrities who dropped out of high school and had successful careers in their respective fields are:

  • Actor Ryan Gosling
  • Actress and model Cameron Diaz
  • Renowned actor Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Actress Nicole Kidman
  • Rapper Jay Z
  • Singer Harry Styles
  • Singer Rihanna
  • Entrepreneur Paris Hilton.

Watch the video below to see what dropping out of high school at 16 taught this blogger: