Walking through the crowded halls of Highlands Ranch High School can make you feel like just another number. With over 1700 students attending class everyday, it makes an individual wonder how many kids make the big decision to drop out of school? According to dosomething.org, as of 2015, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds or 7,000 a day.
Many students look at the idea of dropping out as a terrible obstacle that can stop you from being successful in the future. Why kids make the decision to drop out might be for a different reason than the average high school goer may expect.
Eighteen year old Lalo Oliva was never much of a school person, but it was quite a shock when all the talk of dropping out of Highlands Ranch High School became a reality for him, and his family and friends. “ I had a lot going on with my personal life and trying to find my true self. School was just making it worse for me because of my grades, and the people,” said Oliva.
According to Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement, 60 percent of high schoolers said, “I didn’t see the value in the work I was asked to do”, and 25 percent said, “No adults in the school cared about me.”
The stereotypical first thought about dropping out of school is money. How is this individual going to get a job, financially support all their needs, and make a stable income all without a high school diploma?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241. That’s a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree. But maybe money is not intriguing enough to finish all four years of school.
Sixteen year old, high school dropout, Vincent Rickard, said, “I know my parents didn’t get much of higher education and my dad does just fine and works really hard.” Oliva expresses that money is one of the biggest issues after dropping out. “My parents do not financially support me. You need a job to bring in money,” said Oliva.
Rickard dropped out of high school in the summer of 2016 due to his family situation and personal issues regarding his home life. “ I dropped out because I wasn’t in a good place. I never tried in school to begin with, and I was moving to Arizona with my mom thinking I would get better, but I got worse,” said Rickard.
According to teenhelp.com, it is estimated that about 10 out of 15 high school age teens are depressed at any given time. This can show that the rise in depression among teens can be the cause for the decrease of academics and school interest in these teens, Rickard being an example.
You might want to ask the school system, when do the negatives of high school transform into the positives of dropping out? Oliva could list more positives of leaving school than negatives. “You have more time to focus on you, more free time for personal things you want to do that can actually better yourself. Essentially, nobody telling you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it,” said Oliva .
Most students do not enter high school thinking that they will fail to get their diploma by the end of the four years. About 30 percent of high school freshman do not graduate on time. According to childtrends.org, Oliva and Rickard may add to the statistics of high school drop outs of this school year, but the question is, did this decision to not finish high school cause lingering regret in their lives?
Both of the former high school students, Oliva and Rickard do not regret the decision to drop out. “I have found the person I want to be, and I am happy being (the person I am), because I really have time to focus on myself,” said Oliva. Although Rickard does not have his whole life planned out, he would not take back his decision. Rickard said, “I don’t regret my decision but I just want to figure things out for my future because I still want to have a decent one.”
Emily Hill, Guest Reporter