You’ve scrimped and saved to get your kid into a good college, and helped them through school so they could have the best grades possible, but what happens when your teen reveals to you that the college life is no longer for them? We’re here to help you through this potentially challenging time and give you some guidance so that you can guide them along the way, too.

The prospect of college can be exciting for both teens and parents, with the promise of a higher education, challenging new lifestyle, and wonderful friends to be made. The reality can be somewhat different though, which is likely what leads to such high drop out rates for college kids in this country.

According to the latest statistics published by the National Student Clearing House, although there will be around 2 million students starting college this fall, only half of them will leave successfully with their diploma. There are a number of factors that come into play when looking at these teens who are dropping out of college, so what can we do as parents to help?

If you’ve worked hard to get your kid into a good school and know that they have worked even harder to get the grades they need, hearing that your kid wants to drop out can come as a bit of a shock. However, it’s not all doom and gloom and it certainly doesn’t mean that your teen will never have a successful life, so you need to go about it the right way.

dropping out of college

Figure Out the ‘Why?’

dropping out of college

When your child comes to you with the news that they want to quit college, your initial reaction might be one of anger. For you, it can be hard to understand why they want to give up so easily on something they worked so hard for, but you need to control this anger and get the answers from them.

Take the time to sit down with your kid and have a serious discussion about why they’re thinking of dropping out, and really listen to what they’re saying. There are a number of reasons why people drop out of studies and for some, they might not realize there are alternatives out there.

According to research, the reasons that teens want to drop out of college may be more ominous than what appears on the surface. There could be learning difficulties, medical conditions, or an issue with drugs and alcohol causing them to lose focus. Other times, it’s simply a matter of dropping grades and the need for more educational support.

Money Related Matters

high tuition

One of the biggest reasons for college dropouts has to do with money. This can mean that the school fees are simply too high for the parents to afford or that the student is lacking financially. If money is the cause of your child wanting to cease their studies, there are usually an array of options available to try and solve it.

When the college fees are simply too much to afford, speak to the financial aid center at the school to see if they can help or what they recommend. You may be eligible for a loan from the institution that won’t be as high as other lender’s interest charges, but getting into debt isn’t always the solution. Just remember, there’s no shame in no longer being able to afford a college that you once could, especially if you’ve had your own changes in finances due to job loss or a new position.

If your child is struggling with money, they might be eligible to get a student loan that can help them out with things. Otherwise, you could help them find some part-time work that will make their weekly living expenses a little easier to manage. 

Transferring Schools


Another reason why your child might be dropping out of college is to move to another school. The good news here is that they don’t want to give up on their education altogether so they’re already looking for alternatives.

They might want to transfer because the course they want isn’t offered there, the fees are too expensive, or they want to be closer to home. Whatever the reason, transferring schools is actually a lot simpler than people think and the process is easier than applying in the first place.

Most colleges will help your child do up a transfer plan that will ensure they get credit for the courses they’ve already done. This will make the transition seamless and they’ll have no wasted money on previous studies that are no longer relevant. If they decide they want to return to the same school at a later date, this is another easy process as they’ve already gone through the admission stage previously. 

Explore the Alternatives

When your child tells you that they’re dropping out of college, it can seem like the end of the world. Both you and your teen need to really think of this as a bend in the path, and not some final decision that means they’ll never finish their degree. With such high dropout rates in this country, it makes sense that there are other options out there to cater to our nation’s teens.

There are plenty of alternatives on offer, so take the time to explain and explore these with your child. They might want to transfer to another school, take their course online, have a year off and travel abroad, or completely change their course direction altogether. Just because they don’t want the same thing as when they started it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

If your child is one that has been experiencing learning difficulties or perhaps even faced some problems with drugs and alcohol, your alternatives first should be about getting them healthy and ready to return to study. Counselors and tutors are just some types of people that can help them during this time.


Give Them Time

The thought of your child no longer enrolled in school and not really having direction in their life can be a scary thing to comprehend for parents. As much as you want to help them find their way and get them enrolled in a new college or change their studies to something else, you really need to give them time to figure it out for themselves.

Rushing your child back into study or forcing them to stay on will only have a negative impact. There’s likely a very good reason why they wanted to drop out in the first place, but thankfully most of these issues will be resolved in time. Sitting back and giving them space to figure things out can be hard to do but it’s imperative.

The good news is that most schools allow for kids to return even once they’ve dropped out or even to take a break from their studies. It could be that this small amount of space is all your teen needs to get their goals in mind and figure out what it really is they want to do. Remind yourself that they are only so young still, so it can be hard to know what you want to do with the rest of your life already at such a young age. 

Trust Their Judgement

We often look at our teens as a lot younger than they are, but by the time they’ve started college, they’re well on their way to adulthood. As much as we want to baby them and manage all of their decisions we have to trust that they know what they want and what they’re doing. Part of life is about learning from your mistakes and improving themselves, and if this turns out to be a mistake then at least it’s one that they will learn from.

Teenagers sometimes don’t get as much respect as they deserve from their parents, and although it can be hard to let them make their own minds up it’s something we have to do. You’ll usually find in most cases their desire to return to study comes back quite quickly but it’s something that they’ll need to figure out themselves.

Dropping out of college is incredibly normal in this country, as we can see from the statistics that almost half of all students will do it at some point or another. If your child has told you they plan on leaving or have already dropped out, try to see things from their point of view and work with them to find a suitable alternative that will keep them happy and healthy. 

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