If your 17-year-old child told you that they would rather work than stay in school, what would you do? Thousands of parents across the United States have to answer this question every year when their children make the decision that they would rather go to work than study high school subject. President Obama proposed that the dropout age be raised to 18-years-old. I disagree with this idea and reckon that instead of forcing them to go to school where they may not be benefiting, you should let them make the choice at 17 on what they want to do with their life. There are many reasons why a student may want to drop out of school, but one of the most common ones that I’ve heard is that they would rather work and start making money early than learn about different topics that they feel would never give them a head start in life. I can even remember having these thoughts myself while sitting in math class and wondering how finding the area of a triangle would help me achieve my goals. I even asked my mom if she would ever let me dropout and start working to make money for the future, and the answer, of course, was no. She felt like my education was too important for me to let it pass me by, but even now I sometimes wonder how any of the material I’m learning will ever benefit in life. I’m not saying that dropping out should always be primary option, but for students who don’t see the point of going to school and actually enjoy working and put all their effort into it, I don’t see why we can’t allow teens to work and take on the responsibilities they are prepared for.
The drop out age should stay at 17-years-old is because most teens know whether or not school is for them at that age. I have had friends that didn’t find school beneficial at all and felt like that working would benefit them more, and soon I started contemplating whether or not I should drop out too. In my eyes, school just wasn’t important to my future. So why coerce a student to stay in school if school isn’t what is best for them? Also, at the end of the day it should ultimately their choice on whether or not they want to work because it is still their life and their future. If they conclude that they would be more successful working and delight in working hard for a living, then let them make that choice and be successful doing what they like doing.
If a student feels as though they are ready to work and don’t enjoy school, then they should be able to work. There are many companies and businesses look for hard working people to work for minimum wage or even more than minimum wage, so if the student fills that requirement, then I say go for it. There aren’t many adults that enjoy working so for a teenager to say that he genuinely enjoys working is something special. As a junior I was more than ready to work, but as I got older I lost my urge to work. Now working is just something I know I have to do as soon as possible as an 18-year-old, but I no longer look forward to it. If I were given the opportunity to dropout and work as a 16 or 17-year-old, I would have taken the opportunity because that would have given me to opportunity to prepare for my future and to do something that I would enjoy doing and that’s working. Teens, especially these days, don’t enjoy working as much as the older generations did, so to find a teen that does find happiness in working hard is rare and should be hired as soon as possible by a good-paying job that involves manual labour, like a warehouse or factory.
Working hard and obtaining a reward for it, such as money, may motivate a teenager more than school. School isn’t the best place to gather motivation due to the almost certain guarantee of failure at some point throughout the course of each school year. Those failures can really take a toll on your confidence, but receiving praise or receiving that first paycheck can help motivate you to do better and better. Also, sometimes teens that no longer have the motivation to continue to do well in school might be failing their classes and may not graduate anyways. So pressing them to continue to fail is both unnecessary and quite cruel, because of the fact that have to be reminded constantly that they are failing. When you have a job, the only failure is not trying to do the job at all, unlike school where you can study your heart out and still fail a test, project, or an important exam. Working can give them the sense of fulfillment and pride that they need in order to continue to work hard and make their future brighter.
Some students also have family that they can work for and start making a living working for an uncle, their father, their mother, etc. Working for family might be even more beneficial than working for a stranger. Working for your family and receiving praise or money from them can make you feel proud of yourself for making your family proud of your hard work. There is no better feeling than making family proud, so that may help teens want to succeed more and more so they continue to receive praise from their family. Teachers don’t always make you feel like you are the most hard-working or the most important person in the world so during the are times that do they praise you, it doesn’t give you the same feeling of serenity as when a parent or family member acknowledges your drive to succeed.
The dropout age should remain at 17-years-old. I feel that teens at age 17 are responsible enough to know if they want to work or stay in school. I will admit, however, that there may be a good amount of teens that only want to dropout to be lazy and stay at home all day long. To combat this problem, schools should at least have the teens prove that they actually have a plan to work after dropping out by confirming this with the parents, family members, or their work employer. I am supportive of those who feel like they want to work instead of go to school, but I do not support those who just want to be lazy and do nothing. The lazy students who have no intention of succeeding in life should stay in school and continue to fail. Hard workers deserve the opportunity to do good things in life, and they shouldn’t be forced to continue to go to school if school is holding them back.
Abby Rappoport. “Does Changing the Dropout Age Matter?” The American Prospect, January 25, 2012,
Messacar, Derek, and Philip Oreopoulos. “Staying in School: A Proposal for Raising High-School Graduation Rates.” Issues in Science and Technology 29, no. 2 (Winter 2013).