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A Misconception

If you ask an adult why shouldn’t you drop out of high school or college, one of the more common answers you will hear is that you need an educational foundation to continue with the rest of your life. Without a strong foundation you cannot succeed. Essentially, if you don’t learn the basics, then you won’t be able to learn anything else. By itself, this last statement is true and mostly valid.

The part that makes absolutely no sense is that without high school or college, you somehow immediately don’t have that foundational knowledge. The piece of paper at the end of your formal education may represent that you have the knowledge, but not having the piece of paper doesn’t represent that you don’t have the knowledge.

The fundamental skills people need to succeed are reading, writing, and essential mathematics (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, along with a moderate understanding of geometry and algebra). That’s it. The rest is just a bonus.

Theoretically, if you know how to read and write at a sufficient level by sixth or seventh grade, you could abandon school altogether—of course, that’s not recommended, because if you quit on school at that young of an age, you would have to go into the workforce as a 12 year old. Nonetheless, the point stands that what you need is the ability to learn on your own. You don’t need classes, AP coursework, or a degree—you need to be able to read and write and understand the basics of each subject enough to go learn the rest on your own.

Therein lies the misconception: just because you didn’t get the piece of paper doesn’t mean you aren’t educated. Of course, it’s much quicker for an employer to look at a diploma to verify that you are an educated human being, but that doesn’t mean that someone lacking those pieces of paper is not educated. This is a dangerous notion to push as a society where there are many different people from many different backgrounds who for one reason or another were dropouts—why would we discount them all from the outset?

Which leads me to address the actual reason as to why you shouldn’t drop out of high school or college, which is mainly that you’re putting yourself at an unnecessary societal disadvantage for no reason by doing so. You could just power through and graduate from school and never have to worry about explaining yourself away to people when they ask why you didn’t graduate, despite the fact that you’re absolutely right that high school was a waste of your time. Don’t make life any more difficult for yourself in the long term just because you are frustrated in the short term.

In sum, dropouts are not uneducated, at least not because they didn’t finish school. Though statistics can be interpreted to support the opposite, I’ll still say it: school has absolutely no correlation with being educated—at least if you’re able to take responsibility for your education into your own hands.