My 17-year-old son wants to drop out of high school and take the GED when he turns 18 next month. I
want him to finish his last year of school and graduate next year. What should I do?
There are lots of things to be considered when making this choice. Some kids simply are not good at school
because of learning difficulties, emotional problems or chaotic home lives. I will assume your son does okay
academically if he is a junior at age 17 and has the option of receiving a diploma in a year.
What are his career goals? Does he plan to enter a career that requires a college education? If so, will the colleges
he wants to attend accept the GED for admission? Are his skills adequate to pass the GED? If not, are there adult
education classes he can take to increase his skills level? Why does he want to take the GED now instead of
completing another year of school? Are there other alternatives? Is he planning to live with you after he completes
his GED? Are you going to be financially responsible for him after he completes the GED or high school? Will you
finance his college education? If so, are you willing to do so if he enters college with his GED?
If he needs to go to work full time to support a girl who is having his baby, I applaud his sense of responsibility.
Taking the GED does not usually prohibit people from hiring you or many colleges from accepting you into their
program. It may mean going to a community college for a year or more to complete course requirements for your
school of choice, but the tradeoff may be worth it. Sometimes our priorities change based on unexpected events.
You may have to make choices that reflect those changes.
On the other hand, if he wants to join the military, he may find that he cannot get in with a GED. The requirements
for enrollment in the armed services change from time to time, but many branches will not enlist people with a
GED unless they complete a certain number of hours of college credit and enlist as a college student. If that is the
case, the choice about taking the GED would also include determining if he could get admitted to a community
college with his GED to complete the necessary hours as a college student.
There is no easy answer to this question. The answers are as diverse as the situations that present themselves.
Make sure your son has all the information to make an informed decision, including your stand on financial
obligations, living arrangements and other support in the event of all the alternatives.
For more information about this see the articles in the Teen Dept.
Freedom vs. Responsibility
Rights vs. Privileges
LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW
Author of Growing up Sane (in uncertain times)
Seminar Leader Growing Well Adjusted Kids
Editor-in-Cheif Person to Person: Strengthening Youth & Families
Telephone Counselor Affinity Counseling Center
Affinity Books & Resource Center: Your Source for Emotional Wellness