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DS wants to drop out of sixth form

(52 Posts)
user1487546656 Thu 21-Feb-19 16:17:29

Haven't used MN in about a year since last time DS wanted to do something ridiculous

So, my DS is 16 and moved into his boyfriend's (19) apartment after he finished his GCSEs last year. I know it's rubbish there because they have pretty much no money but, surprisingly, DS did not come trailing back. Somehow, they've survived on the little money they have together. They come round every so often but DS does not ask for money nearly as often as I'd thought (I told him I would not pay any bills as I absolutely did not want him moving out).

But, DS was going to sixth form so I was happy that he'd have at least some options after leaving. But, he did his mock exams the week before last week and when I asked how they went, he said he'd failed them and was going to drop out. This completely shocked me as DS did very well in his GCSEs and I'm assuming it's because of the stress of living away from home and having multiple part-time jobs. After getting a little too annoyed, he said that everything would be fine and he'd just find a full-time job. I personally don't know many full time jobs a sixteen year old could get that pays decently.

I really don't want him to drop out as I know that he always wanted to go to university and become a vet but suddenly he no longer cares about this. He's a very clever kid but he just makes very stupid decisions sometimes and I don't know how I can stop him - I can't physically force him to go to school and I can't force him to return home and live with me.

Just very lost about the whole thing and have no idea what I'm supposed to do or how I'm supposed to help. Any thoughts?

erja Thu 21-Feb-19 16:20:35

You can't stop him. That's the point. He's not doing anything horrific or making awful decisions that must be stopped, just decisions that you don't think are great but are his personal decisions to make. Sorry OP.
These threads make me dread when I'll have teenagers. Sounds like much harder work than toddlers.

Oddsocksandmeatballs Thu 21-Feb-19 16:21:10

My daughter 'dropped out' at 16, she absolutely hated sixth form and left after her AS levels. She found a full time job, worked for a few years then went back to college, did an Access course and went to Uni. She now has a 2:1 and is a teacher. I understand your worries but it does not always end badly.

Aquamarine1029 Thu 21-Feb-19 16:26:09

I know how hard it is when your children start growing up and you no longer have control. My children are young adults now, and thankfully they are doing really well. Sometimes we just have to step back and let them make their own decisions and mistakes. Realistically, what other option do you have? You can't lock him up and drag him to school every day. All we can do is try to advise them and offer support.

C1rrus Thu 21-Feb-19 16:33:23

A levels are a big step up from GCSEs, and 16 is very young to be moving in with his boyfriend. What does his boyfriend do?

I think all you can do is accept his decisions and support him.

RatherBeRiding Thu 21-Feb-19 16:33:53

As others have said, there is nothing you can do but support him whatever decision he makes, whether you agree with it or not.

By that I mean you can let him know you think he's making an unwise choice, but you won't bang on about it or make him feel that he can't talk to you about his life, and that you'll be there for him.

He's very young. He may very well change his mind about future career choices after a few years in going-nowhere jobs (as you say, there's little choice for a 16 year old with nothing but GCSEs).

But there are apprentice-ships, there are Access courses, there are a whole host of options should be feel he wants to pick up again in the future. Like another poster, my DD bombed her A-levels, worked full time for a few years, did an Access course, went to Uni, graduated and is now working full time as a health professional. I think, looking back, she wasn't ready for the commitment of uni at that age and needed a few years of working to get a handle on the real world and get some life experience under her belt.

Just be there for him and offer what support you can.

girlwithadragontattoo Thu 21-Feb-19 16:42:08

I have to say hats off to him! He's 16, working multiple jobs and living independently with his partner. I think he sounds very mature for his age and responsible which is a credit to you and how he's been raised.
He can always go back to college in a few time once they have some savings behind them if that's what he wants to do.
You said he wanted to be a vet, could he have changed his mind? He is only 16 so it was probably one a couple of years ago that he thought that's what he wanted to do.

C1rrus Thu 21-Feb-19 16:46:47

I think you need to accept that he no longer wants to be a vet.

PalmTree101 Thu 21-Feb-19 16:47:13

What a nightmare, obviously no parent wants their 16 year old to move in with an older boyfriend and quit school to have a series of crappy jobs.

All you can do is be there for him support him and keep lines of communication open

katonic Thu 21-Feb-19 16:51:35

I would def encourage him to look at an apprenticeship as an alternative way to gain qualifications and still earn money, tons of really interesting options now with great employers and can even work up to degree level so still academic. I wish a lot of my a level students considered apprenticeships but for some reason they think the only academic pathway is a levels then uni.

spinn Thu 21-Feb-19 16:53:06

Is the college aware he lives independently? They often have support in place for students in this situation and he may be able to access some guidance there to help him make an informed decision.

The mocks will often identify that they need to work harder as the jump from gcse to a level is huge and it takes a while to be able to step up to that. Add this shock to not having the time to do more college work because he is working multiple jobs then this probably feels impossible and because he needs those jobs to survive the thing he needs to drop is the college.

Will he sit with you and talk? Could you look at budgets and also alternatives for education (evening classes, less alevels over a longer time frame etc) so he can make decisions based on fact and not on knee jerk responses to failing

(You say he was bright at school - I would hazard a guess that this is the first time he has struggled academically and failed so it's new territory for him)

Bluntness100 Thu 21-Feb-19 16:54:50

I'm guessing you're not in England where it is illegal to drop out at 16? As that would have been a solution.

Sadly I think there is little you can do here. I'm guessing his partner won't talk any sense into him either?

What does his partner do?

Bubblysqueak Thu 21-Feb-19 16:56:53

I dropped out of college after 6months. I hated every minute of it.
I got an apprenticeship, which then into uni. After 10 years I'm in a really good job and studying for a.masters degree. Dropping out of college is not the worst thing that he could do .

ChoudeBruxelles Thu 21-Feb-19 16:59:38

Would he go and talk to a careers advisor? Someone impartial might help him think through his options. There are alternatives to a levels and not everyone is suited to a levels. He could do an apprenticeship or do a technical qualification at a fe college.

CoolJule43 Thu 21-Feb-19 17:01:05

Very upsetting for you OP but hopefully, when he realises what he does want to do, he'll be able to complete a qualification then.

Maybe he could get an apprenticeship or a job in a field where he can take a professional qualification in the evenings or on day release?

All isn't lost. Don't try pushing him too hard as he may rebel and you could make things worse.

It's better for him to be happy than do something he doesn't want to do.

EthelHornsby Thu 21-Feb-19 17:06:18

My daughter dropped out before her A-levels, despite my advice to the contrary- she found an apprenticeship and trained as an electrician. 10 years later she has completed an access course, and started at University. Instead of opposing him, maybe discuss other options he might feel more enthusiastic about

5foot5 Thu 21-Feb-19 17:07:23

I'm guessing you're not in England where it is illegal to drop out at 16? As that would have been a solution.

Yes this was my first thought. Isn't it mandatory for under 18s to be in some form of education or training now?

It is probably no wonder he did badly in the mocks if he is working multiple part time jobs. I remember when DD went in to VI form we were told that they were happy with part time jobs but strongly discouraged anyone doing A levels from working more than 8 hours a week.

MyDcAreMarvel Thu 21-Feb-19 17:12:28

Are you in England op because he can’t drop out if so. As for letting your 16 year move in with an adult. Why would you ever think that was ok?

Purplecatshopaholic Thu 21-Feb-19 17:14:34

These days you can go to college/uni pretty much any time as long as you work hard. At 16 your DS is very young and his attitude to education may change over time (although I appreciate - well, to some degree, how stressful this must be for you). If he is happy in his relationship and in his life, what more can you really want for him.

RomanyQueen1 Thu 21-Feb-19 17:16:07

I thought they had to stay in education or training until 18?
I think as he has left home now he's considered as independant, so I'm not sure you can stop him from doing what he wants.
Is his partner working ft?

SirVixofVixHall Thu 21-Feb-19 17:16:40

16 is a scary age, still not an adult, yet convinced they are. I don’t know what you can do now he has moved out. Such a tricky situation. Is his boyfriend working? Maybe having an older boyfriend makes school seem too “young” for him.
The big positive is that he has time to change his mind, take A levels in a year or so, go off to university a year or two later than he might have done, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Or he might want to start in work and work his way up, again not a bad thing.
I know in your place I would be very worried, so I sympathise, but I know several boys who had gaps and things worked out. Friend’s ds was a nightmare at 18/19, wouldn’t work, smoking dope and lolling about. He got bored eventually, worked hard, went to uni, got a first and has started an amazing job.

BringOnTheScience Thu 21-Feb-19 17:20:31

Just for everyone saying it's "illegal"... official Govt guidance here.
If the job involves formal training, then it IS allowed.

dirtystinkyrats Thu 21-Feb-19 17:21:21

It is mandatory in England to be in some form of education or training until 18 but there is no one to enforce it.

Lifeisabeach09 Thu 21-Feb-19 17:23:27

If he is not sure what he wants to study, he is doing the best thing getting a job and supporting himself. In a few years, he will have a better idea of what he wants to do.
Would you rather he finish A levels and start a degree that he doesn't finish, ending up in debt in the process?

TinklyLittleLaugh Thu 21-Feb-19 17:24:46

It’s not good and it doesn’t sound like his partner has his best interests at heart otherwise he would have encouraged him to stay living at home and studying.

Presumably you have told him the door is always open when he wises up and stops pissing around with his future?

Other than that, not sure you can do anything. Leave him to it, subtlety talk about how other people are getting on with their lives, having fun and making money. Be very sorry and patronising about people who have wasted their potential. —Drip a bit of poison about the partner—Play the long game.

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