The attributes of successful dropouts

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Administration|Education, Guidance and Counseling




High school dropouts have fewer job opportunities, lower salaries, are more often unemployed, welfare dependent, experience unstable marriages, are involved in behavior problems (i.e. delinquency, substance abuse, early pregnancy), and have a higher chance of prison time than graduates (Dryfoos, 1990). However, despite the predictions, many dropouts do attain employment and achieve success in their lives. This study explores dropouts' success in employment and the dropouts' perception of their success attributions. Three women who dropped out of school prior to high school graduation were interviewed and shared the personal narratives of their lives with particular emphasis on school and employment. All three women were found to be self-determined: autonomous, able to self-regulate, self-efficacious, and know one's strengths and weaknesses. To some degree, all three women possessed each of those characteristics when they demonstrated their resilience to the dysfunction of schooling by dropping out. The relationships each participant had with a parent, significant other, and others is explored, but, while similarities were made obvious, there is not sufficient research into the effect relationships had on the participants' ability to succeed. Each participant lived in fairly unstable environments and often created her own environment where none existed (e.g. created a “family” outside of the home). Data in this area is insufficient to determine the effect environment had on the participants' ability to succeed. ^