Education: High School and Beyond
Education: High School and Beyond
Why Should I Finish High School?
Becoming a parent during high school is challenging! Many teen parents consider dropping out of school because it just feels like too much to juggle so many things at once: school work, homework, child care, friendships, and jobs.
Don’t give up on your plans and dreams! Even though it may seem impossible to finish high school, remember that when you accomplish something that seemed impossible in the beginning, you realize that it’s possible to do anything you set your mind to. Being a parent will change things, you have more responsibilities than you used to, but graduating from high school or getting your GED will set you and your baby up for a better future.
I have dreams that must be accomplished.
--17-year-old mom, Clark County
Having a high school diploma or GED will give you access to many more career choices and help you earn more money so that you can support your family. Everyone wants to give opportunities to their children that they didn’t have, and finishing your high school education is the first step.
I’m glad I have a chance to change my life and finish school to get a better education and show my daughter that I did it, and show I’m her role model. I want her to know I tried and I’m not going to give up anything ‘til she’s happy and living the life she deserves.
—16-year-old mom, Snohomish County
Where Can I Find Support?
You can choose to go to an alternative school or separate program for teen parents if you wish, but you don’t have to. There are a variety of programs designed to help pregnant and parenting teens reach their high school graduation goals.
One program is called the GRADS (Graduation, Reality, And Dual-Role Skills) Program. This is a Family and Consumer Science program that offers classes about positive self-esteem, pregnancy, parenting, academic achievement, economic independence, and preparation for graduation. The GRADS program provides on-site or nearby childcare for your baby to make it easier for you to take classes. There are GRADS classes in 21 traditional and alternative schools across Washington State. Download a list of GRADS Programs across the state. If there isn’t a GRADS class in your area talk to your school counselor about what kind of programs your school district offers.
I’m a young father and I’m glad that GRADS is here to help me be a better father and role model to my son. The new things that I learn give me joy and happiness because I know I’m getting closer to becoming the father I wish to be. —18-year-old dad, Clark County
What if I Missed A Lot of School?
If you miss school, for doctor’s appointments, childbirth, or any other absence related to your pregnancy, you have the same rights as any other student with a medical condition. No one should tell you that you have to leave school because you are pregnant or have a baby. You have the right to stay in your regular school, take any classes you choose, and be treated the same as any other student.
If your school gives make-up assignments or at-home tutoring for other students missing school, they must do the same for pregnant students. Your school must also give you excused absences for any time away related to your pregnancy, childbirth, or recovery as long as your doctor decides is necessary. When you return to school, you have the right to pick up where you left off. You do not need to start the whole year or semester over.
If you think your rights to stay in school and succeed have been violated, call the ACLU of Washington for support at 206-624-2180.
After you finish high school you have a choice. Do you want to start your career or get more education? There are 2- and 4-year colleges, vocational programs, apprenticeships, and other training programs. What you decide to do right now might change in the future, and that’s okay. It’s never too early or too late to think about what will bring joy, value, and meaning to your life.
Explore careers and learn about colleges.
Find apprenticeships that will pay you as you learn a job skill.
Calculate how much you need to earn to support your family without any assistance.
Check out tools to help you graduate and think about what’s next.