I dropped out of school in year 11.
I remember the exact moment I decided I would never return to school vividly. I had just turned 16 and had numerous things stressing me. My mother had died not even 12 months before after battling cancer for a couple of years. I was sexually assaulted on the street near our home a few months after she passed away. I had struggled through high school emotionally and was bullied. I was a Mormon, with ‘strawberry blonde’ aka almost ranga hair, glasses, freckles, academically did well/a nerd (I even babysat for one of my teachers!) so not exactly popular. I had depression. I was not coping.
After year 10, I went off to college (year 11 and 12 in Australia). Soon after I started, I discovered the guy who sexually assaulted me was at this school and I could not get anyone to help me find out his name or report him. My ‘boyfriend’ (whom I was not supposed to be with because of my religion) was friends with him, but I couldn’t get him to tell me his name. I didn’t tell him why I needed to know and he was being a jerk. I tried reporting it to the teacher and school counsellor, both told me I needed to find out his name for them to help me. They wouldn’t even come outside for me to point him out in the courtyard or anything. I felt lost and helpless.
The moment that topped it all off was when I failed a math test, badly. I got 3 out of 50. I used to be good at math, but this year I was struggling with school.
My math teacher said he needed to see me after class. I went up and he said some things to which I responded with “It doesn’t matter, I’m never coming back to school anyway.” And threw my test in the bin on the way out the door.
I didn’t go back to school. That was my last day. It was part way through the second term and I quit.
It is often assumed I completed a degree or a diploma in finance. I didn’t. I quit school, bummed around, worked for Woolworths as a check out chick, did some work for the government then did an apprenticeship in hairdressing for 4 years. I finished my apprenticeship early, went straight into managing a new salon then ran my own hairdressing business 6 months later.
I was told I would regret quitting school. I don’t. My life experience made me who I am today.
I was good at school when I applied myself. I was in advanced classes and got mostly A’s, but if I wasn’t interested, it wasn’t happening.
Had I stayed in school, I would have gone to uni and my life would be very different to what it is now.
School is good, but I don’t think it is the be all and end all. It doesn’t suit everyone and I have met plenty of successful people who never finished school. The difference between the successful ones and the ones who flunk out then do nothing with their lives is desire and determination. Successful people have the desire to be successful, the drive, self-motivation and determination to get there.
I’m not saying kids should drop out of school. I do think we all need to look for learning opportunities outside the education system and not place so much pressure on kids to get a degree. University is only one pathway to a career.
Take time to finding what you are passionate about, what you want to do for your careers, how you want to spend your life and learn skills such as problem-solving. We need to be self-aware, self-motivated and raise our EQ (more on that here).
My life hasn’t been easy, I love where I am at in my life though and would not be here if it weren’t for my life experiences (homelessness, domestic violence and health issues to name a few). I learnt more through life than I did at school. I knew from a young age certain things about myself and what I wanted from life and while I haven’t always taken the fastest route, the fact that at 31 I am where I want to be, after a lot of hard work is pretty significant.
What do you think, do we put too much pressure on kids about education? Do you think we need to do more or provide more opportunities for learning outside of the education gained at school?