Go Back to High School After Dropping Out in Texas?

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In the 2012-13 school year, the annual dropout rate for students in Texas who attended Grades 7-12 in public schools was 1.6%. But is it over for students once they stop going? Or can you go back to high school after dropping out in Texas?

Generally, you can return to high school in Texas if you’re under 19 and it has been less than a year since you dropped out. However, you must check with the school district for specific age limits and procedures.

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Can You Go Back to High School After Dropping Out in Texas?

You’re legally allowed to enroll back in high school if it’s been less than a year since you dropped out and you’re younger than 19. These are the general requirements in our state. However, the exact age limit and procedures can vary depending on the school district or city.

Going back to high school after dropping out depends on multiple factors that mainly include:

  • Your age
  • The school district
  • The city where the school is located
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Under 19

Generally speaking, you can enroll in high school after you’ve dropped out if it’s been less than a year and you’re under 19 years old. This is because the law in the state requires students to stay in school until they turn 19.

As such, you are asking to return to school while still under that age limit is likely to work. You can visit the school’s front office to inquire about the re-enrollment process and the necessary paperwork.

You can also schedule an appointment with the school guidance counselor you want to return to and seek their advice.

Over 19

So, what if you’re older than 19? In this case, or if it has been more than a year since you’ve dropped out, it’s unlikely that you’ll be allowed to enroll back into a public high school.

Don’t give up hope; there are other ways to continue your education and get a high school diploma. We’ll discuss these later on.

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When Can You Legally Drop Out of High School in Texas?

Texas operates under a law called “compulsory education,” which obligates children to attend school full-time until they graduate or reach 19 years of age.

If you’re older than 19 years, you’re not legally required to attend high school, and you can drop out if you want.

If you’re younger than 19, you can legally drop out of high school if you meet the following conditions:

  • You’re at least 17 years old.
  • You’re taking a preparatory course for the high school equivalency exam.
  • You fulfill one of the next requirements:
    • Your parents provided their permission for you to drop out.
    • You’re homeless.
    • You don’t live with your parent(s) or legal guardian(s)
    • You’ve been ordered by a court to attend the preparatory course.

If you’re younger than 17 years, you can legally drop out of high school if you’re participating in a preparatory course for the high school equivalency exam and are either:

  • Placed under the supervision of a public agency.
  • Enrolled in a training program with the Job Corps.
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What Happens if You Drop Out of High School in Texas?

If you’re under 19, didn’t graduate, or don’t meet any of the conditions that legally allow you to drop out and stop going to school, you’ll be putting yourself and your parents at risk of legal consequences following the penalties for truancy in the state.

Truancy Penalties for Students

Before 2015, Texas law would send students who drop out without legal excuse straight to juvenile court. But since this didn’t address the underlying reasons for the problem, the state changed the law and turned it into a multi-stage process that involves the following:

  • Suppose a student has been absent for 3 or more within 6 months during one school year. In that case, the student and their parents will either be referred to counseling (or another service) or required to implement a behavior-mending program by the school district.
  • If the previous actions aren’t practical and students don’t show up 10 times or more within six months, the school will refer their case to truancy court.

The only cases where the school will refrain from resorting to truancy court is if the student is homeless, pregnant, the family’s primary financial supporter, or in foster care.

  • Truancy court is a civil court (as truancy isn’t considered a crime) that’ll require students to follow corrective measures such as regularly going to school, participating in a high school equivalency program, attending counseling, and attending courses for dealing with substance abuse or doing community service.
    • If the student has a driver’s license or permit, the truancy court may suspend or delay it.
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Truancy Penalties for Parents

As for the parents of truant students, truancy court may require them also to follow corrective measures such as:

  • Attending counseling
  • Doing community service
  • Participating in special classes

If the parents fail to oblige, they could face the following;

  • Contempt charges and fines
  • Up to 3 days in jail
  • Community service
  • Misdemeanor charges
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Alternative Education Options

Let’s explore alternative education options that are vital for those who are over 19 or have been out of school for more than a year. These options provide flexibility and accessibility to education, catering to different needs and life circumstances. Here are some key alternative education programs:

  1. Adult Education Programs:
    • Description: These programs offer basic education classes for adults, including literacy, numeracy, and basic skills.
    • Benefits: They help improve employment prospects and provide a foundation for further education.
    • Examples: Community colleges and adult education centers often offer these programs.
  2. General Educational Development (GED) Programs:
    • Description: The GED is a series of tests that provide certification equivalent to a high school diploma.
    • Benefits: GED holders can apply for college, vocational training, or employment opportunities that require a high school diploma.
    • Examples: Offered at various community centers, schools, and online platforms.
  3. Online High Schools:
    • Description: These digital platforms offer high school curricula and diplomas through online courses.
    • Benefits: They provide flexibility for students to learn at their own pace and can be ideal for those with work or family commitments.
    • Examples: Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) and other accredited online high schools.
  4. Vocational Training and Technical Education:
    • Description: These programs focus on specific trades and skills, preparing students for particular careers.
    • Benefits: They often lead to certifications or associate degrees linked to specific job markets.
    • Examples: Technical institutes, trade schools, and community colleges offering courses in healthcare, IT, mechanics, and more.
  5. Community College Programs:
    • Description: Community colleges offer a range of programs, including associate degrees, certifications, and transfer programs to four-year universities.
    • Benefits: They are often more affordable and flexible, providing a pathway to higher education or specific careers.
    • Examples: Dallas County Community College District, Houston Community College.
  6. Continuing Education and Extension Courses:
    • Description: Universities and colleges offer these courses for personal or professional development.
    • Benefits: They can enhance skills, lead to career advancement, or be pursued for personal interest.
    • Examples: University of Texas at Austin’s Informal Classes, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
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Each of these options has its own set of requirements, costs, and durations. It’s important for prospective students to research and find the program that best fits their needs and goals. Many of these programs also offer financial aid, counseling, and support services to help students succeed.

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Support Services

Addressing the issue of students at risk of dropping out requires a multifaceted approach, with support services playing a crucial role. These services aim to identify and address students’ underlying challenges, providing them with the necessary tools and support to succeed in their educational endeavors. Here’s a breakdown of key support services:

  1. Counseling Services:
    • Purpose: To provide emotional, academic, and career guidance.
    • Benefits: Helps students navigate personal challenges, plan their educational paths, and make informed career decisions.
    • Availability: Typically offered in schools and colleges, often through a dedicated counseling department.
  2. Tutoring and Academic Support:
    • Purpose: To offer additional academic assistance outside of regular classes.
    • Benefits: Helps students struggling with coursework to improve their understanding and performance.
    • Availability: Often provided by schools, community centers, or nonprofit organizations.
  3. Mentoring Programs:
    • Purpose: To connect students with mentors who provide guidance, support, and encouragement.
    • Benefits: Mentors can serve as role models, offering advice and helping students navigate academic and personal challenges.
    • Availability: These programs can be found in schools, community organizations, and through various mentorship-focused nonprofits.
  4. Intervention Programs:
    • Purpose: To intervene and provide targeted support to students showing early signs of academic struggle or disengagement.
    • Benefits: Early intervention can prevent dropout by addressing issues as they arise.
    • Availability: Often run by schools or educational districts, sometimes in partnership with local agencies.
  5. After-School Programs:
    • Purpose: To provide students with a safe and productive environment after school hours.
    • Benefits: These programs can offer academic support, extracurricular activities, and a positive social environment.
    • Availability: Typically offered by schools, community centers, and youth organizations.
  6. Career and Technical Education (CTE):
    • Purpose: To provide hands-on training and education in specific career fields.
    • Benefits: CTE programs can be more engaging for some students, offering practical skills and a clear path to employment.
    • Availability: Offered in many high schools and at vocational training centers.
  7. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs:
    • Purpose: To teach students skills for emotional management, social interaction, and decision-making.
    • Benefits: SEL programs can improve students’ mental health, social skills, and academic performance.
    • Availability: Implemented in schools’ curricula or through specific SEL-focused initiatives.
  8. Family Engagement Programs:
    • Purpose: To involve families in students’ educational processes.
    • Benefits: Increased family involvement can lead to better student performance and reduced dropout rates.
    • Availability: Run by schools or community organizations, often through workshops, meetings, and communication initiatives.

These support services are crucial in providing at-risk students with a network of resources and individuals committed to their success. The availability and specifics of these services can vary based on location and the institution, so it’s important for students and parents to inquire about available resources in their specific educational environment.

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

Including information on financial aid and scholarships for students who have dropped out and are considering returning to education is indeed crucial. These financial resources can significantly alleviate the burden of educational expenses and make the journey back to school more feasible.

Here’s an overview of the types of financial aid and scholarships typically available:

  1. Federal and State Grants:
    • Description: Grants are forms of financial aid that need not be repaid. They are often need-based.
    • Examples: The Federal Pell Grant and state-specific grants.
    • Eligibility: Typically based on financial need and may require enrollment in an eligible program.
  2. Scholarships:
    • Description: Scholarships are awarded based on various criteria such as academic merit, talents, or specific interests and do not require repayment.
    • Examples: Scholarships from private organizations, community groups, and foundations.
    • Eligibility: Criteria vary widely; some are specifically designed for students returning to education.
  3. Work-Study Programs:
    • Description: Federal or state work-study programs provide part-time jobs for students with financial needs, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
    • Eligibility: Based on financial need and usually requires enrollment in an eligible program.
  4. Education Loans:
    • Description: Loans are borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. They can come from the federal government or private sources.
    • Eligibility: Varies by loan type; federal loans often require enrollment in an eligible program.
  5. Adult Education Programs:
    • Description: Many adult education programs offer scholarships or financial assistance for adults returning to complete their high school education or equivalency.
    • Eligibility: Often for adults over a certain age returning to education.
  6. Vocational and Technical Training Scholarships:
    • Description: Scholarships specifically for students pursuing vocational or technical training.
    • Eligibility: Often requires enrollment in a vocational or technical program.
  7. Community College Scholarships:
    • Description: Scholarships for students attending community colleges, which can be a cost-effective way to earn college credits or complete vocational training.
    • Eligibility: Varies but may include returning students or those pursuing specific fields of study.
  8. GED Scholarship Programs:
    • Description: Some organizations offer scholarships for individuals who have completed their GED and want to pursue further education.
    • Eligibility: Requires a GED certificate; other criteria may apply depending on the scholarship.
  9. Nonprofit and Foundation Grants:
    • Description: Nonprofits and foundations sometimes offer grants for educational purposes.
    • Eligibility: Varies widely based on the organization’s focus and the individual’s circumstances.
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For students considering returning to school after dropping out, it’s important to research and apply for these financial aid options. Many educational institutions have financial aid offices where staff can assist with identifying and applying for relevant financial aid and scholarships.

Additionally, online resources, local libraries, and community organizations can be valuable sources of information on available financial aid for returning students.

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Next Steps and Contact Details

Take your next step and progress with these contact details for financial aid and student scholarships, programs, and more education assistance in Texas.

  1. Federal Student Aid (FSA) – U.S. Department of Education:
    • For information about Federal Pell Grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans.
    • Website: Federal Student Aid
    • Contact: 1-800-433-3243 (Federal Student Aid Information Center)
  2. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB):
    • For state-specific grants and scholarships in Texas.
    • Website: THECB
    • Contact: 512-427-6101
  3. Scholarships.com:
    • A comprehensive database of scholarships, including those for students returning to education.
    • Website: Scholarships.com
  4. Fastweb:
    • A resource for finding scholarships and financial aid.
    • Website: Fastweb
  5. GED Testing Service:
    • For information on GED scholarships and related programs.
    • Website: GED
    • Contact: 1-877-392-6433
  6. Community College Offices:
    • Contact the financial aid office of your local community college for information about scholarships and grants for community college students.
    • Find your local community college through Texas Association of Community Colleges
  7. Vocational and Technical Training Scholarships:
    • Contact vocational or technical schools in Texas for scholarship opportunities specific to vocational training.
    • A directory of schools can be found at Career School Now
  8. Local Nonprofits and Foundations:
    • For grants and financial assistance offered by local organizations.
    • A good place to start is the Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc. at TxNonprofits
  9. Adult Education Programs in Texas:
    • For financial assistance information related to adult education.
    • Texas Workforce Commission’s Adult Education and Literacy Program: TWC
    • Contact: 800-441-7323

Students in Texas FAQs

Why Do Students Drop Out in Texas?

Students are more likely to drop out when they have poor grades in core subjects, fail to progress to the next grade, have low attendance, have behavioral issues, or are economically disadvantaged.

What if the Student Disobeys Orders From Truancy Court?

They’ll have to pay a fine, appear before juvenile court (if they’re younger than 17), and have their enrollment revoked.

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Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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