Thinking about leaving school?

Take time to decide whether it’s the right choice for you

Written by spunout


Everyone finds school difficult some of the time, but some young people find it difficult all the time. This can make going into school every day hard, and can cause some people to leave early.

Why would someone want to leave school early?

There can be many reasons why some of us feel school is just not an option for us. 

Here are some examples as to why someone might want to leave school early:

Finding schoolwork difficult

We all learn differently, but often schools only promote learning by memorising text, and this won’t suit everyone. This can make schoolwork harder for some people, and it can even make you want to leave.

However, there are different ways of taking in information. Try different techniques, like listening to recordings about a subject, watching videos about the topic, or using pictures and graphs to see if there’s a way it could work for you.

Exam pressure

Some people become very stressed due to the pressure of exams. If you fail an exam, you might be feeling discouraged about school and study and want to stop entirely.

Read more about preparing for exams and coping with exam stress here.

Problems with bullying

Being bullied by other students or even by teachers can be incredibly hard, and makes the idea of going to school very difficult.

If a particular teacher is picking on you, you might want to report it to your school principal. You can ask a parent or guardian for support if you want to report a teacher. 

Find out more about where you can turn to if you are being bullied here.

Feeling like you don’t fit in

Whether it seems like you don’t fit in, you are being treated differently because of different abilities and talents, or not having many friends at school, it can sometimes be a very lonely place.

Know that no one has the right to make you feel like you don’t belong. You have a right to be there and to get your education.

Things to try before deciding to leave school

If you are thinking about leaving school, take time to decide whether it’s the right choice for you. There may be alternatives to think of first so let someone at school know that you are thinking of leaving and talk it out. They may be able to help improve the situation and make school an easier place for you to be.

Ask for help

Remember it’s okay to ask for help. There are adults in school who will listen, such as guidance counsellors or your favourite teacher. Outside school you coudl talk to parents or a counsellor. It’s a good idea to speak with your career guidance teacher before you make the decision to leave.

Think about the future

Have a look online at the type of jobs you would like to do in the future and see what qualifications you would need. Many jobs need a secondary school qualification or even a college degree.

Think ahead and imagine yourself five years down the road. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be working at? Then decide how best to get there – be it through study, a training course or another after school option.

Talk to a friend

Confide in a good friend and tell them how you are feeling about school. You might realise that others feel the same and that you can get through it together.

Put the work in

Attempt your homework – it makes life easier. If you can’t do it or are having problems, consider talking to the teacher.

Ask about Leaving Cert Applied

If you have reached senior level and the pressures of the Leaving Certificate are too much for you, Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) might be a better fit for you. Learn more about LCA here and speak to someone in the school if you want to try it.

Have a plan

Make a plan before leaving school so that you don’t end up sitting at home all day doing nothing. Take a look at what you can do instead below.

School really isn’t for me. What can I do instead?

If you’ve decided school really isn’t for you and you have decided to leave, here are some things to consider when deciding what to do next.


If school is definitely not for you consider attending a Youthreach centre. The benefits of attending a Youthreach centre are enormous because they adopt a different teaching style to conventional school, and they are often perfect for people who may have found conventional school difficult.


An apprentice is a person who is studying a particular craft from someone who has been working in the field for a while. Doing an apprenticeship allows you to get on-the-job and off-the-job training, combining education with hands on experience. You must be over 16 to do an apprenticeship.

Look for work

If you think you might want to look for a job, take a look at our employment section for advice on applying for jobs, and make sure you know your work rights if you’re under 18.

Remember also that for certain jobs or careers, you may need to have certain qualifications. 

If you’re not sure where to start visit Compass,’s employment hub.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

Our work is supported by