Teen View

July 20, 2007
By

Michael Smith

School subjects’ irrelevance can lead to dropping out

Students are missing a clear understanding of why it is never the right choice to drop out of high school. But, when the road gets tough they’re also missing a support system that will keep them on track and in line as well as help them understand why the choice they’re about to make can lead them downhill.

School subjects are oftentimes extremely boring and don’t seem relevant, and lack of interest is a strong factor in pushing kids to drop out of high school. Now imagine failing courses they’ve never liked in the first place, it’s a matter of time before a student begins to feel discouraged.

According to massparents.org, which advocates abolishing the high-stakes MCAS exam, students who are retained are “also at high risk for repeating again in the high school grades then dropping out. The practice of holding students back in a grade is a practice that research consistently finds undermines student engagement.” The truth is, once a student is kept back they wonder if there is a point to staying in school.

I asked Kristin Hanson of Brockton if she knew anyone that dropped out. “Yes, but I can’t blame him. He was 16 in the 8th grade and had already been kept back twice, and he was about to get kept back again.”

I then brought up the question of what can be done to alleviate the problem. Nicole Mclean, a 22-year-old resident of Dorchester, said she believes, “Real school counselors can help. Students need counselors to keep them on track and educate them. And notices when they’re grades are dropping and are able to provide the right type of education and support. Education is key.”

Dropping out of school is the worst career choice possible, but often students don’t understand this until it’s almost to late. “Dropping out never crossed my mind because I was aware that I always wanted to take business,” claimed Alex Beck. “So when I was in history class learning about ancient China, I didn’t really care because I knew it wasn’t relevant, but it was my ticket to do what I wanted to do.” At this point this student had already figured out his reason for striving to stay in school. Students need a goal and clear understanding of what it takes to reach that goal.

Low support and lack of interest are the strongest contributing factors to dropping out. If a student gets retained and still has neither support nor interest, it only exacerbates the problem. Overall, the best thing to do for anyone who’s considering dropping out is to try and look beyond just the next day after they’ve dropped out. Look towards the next year and the next decade, and then ask themselves is it worth it?

The writer is a WriteBoston Caroline Knapp intern at the Gazette. He will be a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy in the fall.