How to Quit School

You’re ready to go. Out with the old, in the with the new. It’s time for a new life. Year 1 of your real education is right around the corner. The only thing left to do is to actually quit school.

There are a few ways to go about doing it: homeschooling, dropping out, and reschooling. Homeschooling doesn’t mean school at home. It is a very broad term that includes unschooling, which means letting the student make educational decisions. I recommend homeschooling for most students. Dropping out is an option available only to students older than a certain age. Reschooling is the compromise option for when you meet resistance from the law and/or parents.

There are really only a couple key things you need to worry about when quitting school: the law and your parents. You’re in a great spot when the laws are lax and your parents are supportive. You will probably have to make compromises, though, when the laws are intrusive and your parents aren’t on board with your plan.

The Law

The legal challenges you face in quitting school depend on where you live. Some states in the US are easier than others.

Homeschooling

As a rule, homeschooling is legal in all fifty states of the US. The laws regarding homeschooling range from smooth sailing to full-sized obstacle course. Some states require parents to submit an affidavit, or to submit a curriculum, or to have graduated high school, or to have teacher qualifications. Some states require homeschool students to still take state standardized tests. For information on your state’s homeschooling laws, check out the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website.

Dropping Out

Check your state’s dropout laws. The dropout age is the age at which you are no longer required by law to attend school. If you have already reached this age, you don’t have to figure out homeschooling laws to quit school. However, some students above the dropout age may prefer to homeschool or reschool in order to get a diploma.

Reschooling

To satisfy pesky legal (or parental) requirements, some students enroll in a different type of school to fit their needs. These include online schools, correspondence schools, and umbrella schools.

The intensity of online schooling vary between schools; some let you self-report attendance while others run scripts that time your daily attendance.

Correspondence schools are basically mail-order schools. They mail you lessons and tests and you mail them back your completed work.

Umbrella schools are schools that make it easier for homeschoolers to comply with the law. While these can vary in their involvement, some umbrella schools are designed to satisfy the bare minimum legal requirements to leave more freedom for the student.

Your Parents

Parental support is huge in the quest for freedom from school. If you aren’t 100% sure that your parents will support you in your decision to quit, you need to keep your plans on the down low while you prepare a strategy to convince them.

Persuasion Strategy

Step 1: Have a rock-solid plan.

Be ready to give compelling and detailed answers to your parents’ concerns. Think back to the concerns that you had before deciding to quit, and multiply that incredulity by a hundred. Is it legal? How will you learn? How will you socialize? How will you get a job? How will you go to college? How will you pay for college?

Don’t get caught not having the answer to a question your parents have about your plan. They’re your parents; think carefully about what they might bring up. Will they say you need to experience “the high school experience?”  Will they say life is about “jumping through hoops?”

Think of your plan as a business plan and your parents as investors. You want them to be impressed by the completeness of your plan and to be totally convinced that quitting school is a smarter investment than staying in school.

Step 2: Demonstrate your plan.

It can make or break your case whether you have prior experience to cite. If your plan involves dabbling in things that are completely new to you, dabble in them now. For example, if you plan to teach yourself programming, start now. If you plan to join independent clubs and organizations, join them now. If you plan to volunteer, volunteer now.

That way, when you discuss this with your parents, you can drop powerful lines like “I learned so much more doing … than I have all year in school” and “I can do this. Remember when I…” and “I have met more of my friends / positive influences at … than I have at school.”

Step 3: Get your facts straight.

Be prepared to refute myths. Expect myths related to GED stigma and unsociable homeschoolers. Pad your argument with extra facts like statistics. Here are a few:

  • Homeschoolers consistently score higher than public schoolers on average on standardized tests.
  • Religious reasons represent the minority of reasons why people choose to homeschool.
  • Homeschoolers number in the millions in the US and that number is growing rapidly by the year.

Comprehensive list of bite-sized statistical facts with full citations coming soon…

Step 4: Butter them up.

Less defiance, more compliance, more Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts and gestures. Do chores without having been asked. Make no demanding requests. Tone down your media usage. Cook dinner. Whatever you can think of — make ’em proud.

Step 5: Catch them in a good mood.

Wait for the heat of a stressful situation to die out. Seize the opportunity when something good happens to them, like they just got a raise or met their fitness goals. This would be the optimal time to present your case.

 

Once you’re free, you have all the time in the world to pursue your passions. The world is your oyster. Browse some of my other stuff for inspiration on what kind of things to do with your newfound freedom. If you are angry about your time in school, join my advocacy campaign and help others get out of school.