Thinking about dropping out?

It’s okay to quit something when it’s not working for you, but before you make a big decision about dropping out of school, there are a few things you should consider.

This can help if:

  • you feel overwhelmed by the workload at school, uni or TAFE

  • you don’t think school or tertiary education is for you

  • you feel like you can’t cope.

Boy glancing sideways

What are your reasons?

Whether it’s to do with your learning style or it’s related to something bigger, dropping out may seem like your only option. And maybe it is the best option, but think carefully about your reasons first. You can't always be sure.

There might be something else you can change to make study more achievable?

‘I feel like I can’t cope’

It isn’t always easy to cope with all the stuff that goes on in life, and adding school and uni to the mix can sometimes be the thing that tips you over into thinking it’s all too hard. Chat to someone about how you’re feeling and see if there’s any way to lighten your load. This might put you back in control.

‘I’m overwhelmed by the workload’

If you feel like the workload is more than you can handle, dropping out isn’t your only option. Have a chat to others in your class and see how they’re going. Maybe you’re not the only one having difficulty. Ask for a meeting with your teacher/lecturer to express your concerns. Talking about it lets others know that you’re not coping and might encourage them to speak up, too.

‘I have too much stuff on’

It can often be hard to say ‘no’ to things, which means it’s easy to over-commit yourself. Suddenly, your diary has more activities scheduled than there are hours in the day. Even though it’s tempting to just drop out and run, there are a couple of ways you can get your life back in order without giving up your studies. The first step is to identify your priorities. Then you just need to schedule everything else around what’s most important to you, instead of prioritising what’s important to others.

‘It just isn’t for me'

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling like you’re just not made for education. Everyone has talents, and perhaps yours don’t include sitting for exams, studying or writing essays. Though there are legal reasons you might have to stick it out with school, higher ed is an option that you don’t have to pursue if it’s not working out. Getting a job or starting an apprenticeship are equally valuable alternatives.

Questions to ask yourself before dropping out

  • Why do I want to drop out?

  • Is the reason I want to drop out something I can fix? If I could change it, would I be willing to stick it out?

  • What are the positives and negatives of dropping out?

  • What would the consequences of dropping out be?

  • Do I have a plan for what I’m going to do if I drop out?

  • What can I do to support myself through this time?

  • Who can I talk to about this?


Studying isn’t for everyone, but before you make the big decision to drop out, it’s worth thinking of your reasons and the consequences of doing it. It’s important to make a plan for after you drop out – you don’t want suddenly to feel like you have nothing to do or nowhere to go. Counsellors, teachers, friends and parents are all good people to talk to if you feel like you’re at risk of dropping out. You could also book in a PeerChat session to speak one-on-one with a ReachOut peer worker.

What can I do now?