Why Do People Leave High School Without Graduating?

Drop out. It’s an act. Not an adjective to describe someone. 

When used as an adjective, the term takes on a derogatory connotation. The reality of why someone leaves school is far more nuanced.


Personal or family issues

  • Financial hardships in the household
  • The need to work to help support the family
  • Health problems for student or family member
  • Family instability

Mental health issues: Undiagnosed or untreated anxiety, depression, and other conditions, can interfere with a student’s ability to attend and succeed in school.

Academic difficulties: Some students struggle academically and may find it challenging to keep up with the coursework – causing frustration and the loss of motivation

Lack of engagement: If students feel disengaged or uninterested in their studies, they may become less motivated to stay in school. Apathy towards school comes from:

  • a lack of connection with teachers
  • a real or perceived lack of relevance in the curriculum
  • a feeling of being left behind 

Bullying or harassment: Persistent bullying or harassment can cause students to feel unsafe in school.

Lack of support or resources:

  • limited access to educational resources such as broadband access and technology
  •  inadequate support systems and families that don’t prioritize education (often because of generational illiteracy) 
  • insufficient guidance for navigating the challenges of high school

Peer influence and social pressures: Sometimes, negative peer influences or social pressures can lead students to make choices that hinder their academic progress.

  • involvement in risky behaviors
  • substance abuse
  • or prioritizing social activities over school


Leaving school early often leads to long-term barriers as adults, such as:

  • inability to gain or advance employment
  • inability to help their children with school work
  • struggles navigating the healthcare system
  • frustration with household finances

Often, these same adult barriers are what motivate adults to join Seeds and complete their education.

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