Dropout is a term used for an individual who leaves school without having completed their course of study. Some reporting has opted for the term “pushed out” to better capture the systemic factors and institutional failures that lead some students to not complete their education, which removes the more stigmatizing label, or the simple phrasing of “Person X did not finish high school.”
The term is not always used in a negative sense: Students who leave Ivy League schools to lead startups are often cast as bold, for instance. And athletes who leave college early to go pro are rarely referred to as “dropouts.” But these are edge cases. The term has been tied to blaming students for their education outcomes and ignoring the myriad other factors at play.
- Don’t Call Them Dropouts (America’s Promise Alliance)
- Delinquent. Dropout. At-Risk. When Words Become Labels (NPR)
- In New Orleans, A Second-Chance School Tries Again (NPR)
Dropout refers to an individual who leaves school without having completed their course of study. The term “dropout” may stigmatize the individual and ignore systemic factors that contribute to someone not completing their education; less individual-blaming language would be phrasing like “X individual did not finish school.”