According to the Education and Labor Committee of the US House of Representatives, across the US:

  • About 7,000 students drop out of school every day
  • Only about 70 percent of students graduate from high school with a regular high school diploma, as opposed to getting a General Educational Development (GED) diploma or certificate

Are you thinking of joining these dropouts?

The question of whether you can drop out of school isn’t a hard question to answer. Really, it’s just a matter of looking at the laws of your state. There you’ll find out how old you need to be to quit school and how your parents’ consent or permission comes into play.

You may have to look harder at the laws to answer a deeper, more important question: Should you drop out? There are consequences to dropping out.

Can You: Legal Mechanics

Every state has laws about “Compulsory schooling.” Basically, it means all children must start school by a certain age and must stay in school until they reach a certain age. For example, in some states, children are required to start school when they turn five years old, and they have to stay in school until they turn 18. These ages are different from state to state.

Once a student reaches the age set by the law, he’s no longer required by law to go to school. He can, if he wishes, drop out and quit. As a general rule, a student this age doesn’t need permission from his parents or the school to drop out.

Can you drop out before you reach that age? In most states you’ll need your parents’ permission, and that’s all. In some states, school officials have to approve, too. That’s because in many states, not even parents can get around the compulsory school laws – you’re required by law to go to school and your parents can’t ignore or override that law.

There are some exceptions, though. In some states, you may be allowed to drop out before you reach the age when compulsory school ends in your state if:

  • Your parents agree with your decision to drop out, and
  • You pass a high school equivalency test or get a GED

Without both, you’re still required to go to school.

Don’t just stop going to school if you’re still covered by the compulsory school law. If you’re supposed to be in school and you simply don’t go, it’s called “truancy,” and both you and your parents may face legal problems. You and your parents may have to pay fines, or a court may force you to do community service or complete a truancy program.

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