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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Teen

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

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?

Answer

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

3/12/98

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

 

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