Stop Don't Drop

Supporting your child if they are thinking about leaving college

As parents you are key influencers. Parents and guardians influence young people’s career choices and options so it’s important to be aware of what you can do if your child is thinking about leaving college.

Here are our top 3 tips to supporting your child (and you) through the process: 

1. Listen and be supportive.

Find out the reasons why your child wants to leave college. They could want to leave for a variety of reasons including:

  • Thought about a new career idea which no longer suits their course
  • Not enjoying their course
  • Disliking full time study
  • Not settling into college life
  • Finding the course either too easy or too difficult
  • They are being bullied

Some of the reasons above can be resolved so that they can stay in college. They could swap a course (if it’s not too late) or could ask to drop down a level or get extra help if the course is too difficult.

If studying full time doesn’t appeal then they could move from a full time course to an apprenticeship, if suitable, with the same college.

Whatever their reasons you can seek support by speaking to the college tutor, learner / student services or contact Careers Wales to speak to a careers adviser who can advice and guide you. 

2. Talk about your own experiences.

You will have your own positive (and negative) experiences of education and working. Speak to them about the reality of studying or working to help them understand that although they might feel unsettled, apprehensive or worried now, that there are positives to most situations. Things like,

  • Working or being in a classroom with people you don’t get on with – think of the skills and qualities they get from this such as experience of working with others, tolerance, listening to different opinions>
  • A change in career idea  – their current course might not be what they want to do right now but they are gaining important skills which are transferrable to many jobs.  Finishing the 1st year might give them a qualification or credits, security and time to fully explore their next steps if they still decide they want to leave
  • Being bullied - although very uncomfortable and stressful for your child, this could be resovled with support from the college. Your child should not have to sacrifice their education for the sake of another person

You and your child can speak to Careers Wales for advice and guidance on the next best steps and options. 

3. Be prepared. Have a plan.

If your child is adamant that they want to leave then it’s important to have a plan in place for their next steps although we would advise that they stay in college until their next step is in place. Some options open to your child include:

Whichever option appeals, Careers Wales can discuss and explore the options and opportunities further with you and your child. Speak with one of our careers advisers for advice and guidance on the options available.

Take a look at some of the FAQ's and advice if your child is thinking about leaving college.

  • 1. My child has changed their career idea. Can they swap and do another course?

    This will depend on the type of course your child would like to do. At this time in the term a lot of work will have been done, so it could be difficult for your child to catch up and fully understand another course.  

    It is positive that your child has started to seriusly consider their career goal and how, what they do now, influences that goal. They can now start to research their new new career idea, looking at what qualifications and skills before applying for a more suitable course ready for the following year. 

    OUR ADVICE: Speak to the college student / learner services and admissions department to find out what courses have availability. Encourage your child to start researching career ideas using Career Search and seek support from Careers Wales for further advice and guidance on the options available.
  • 2. My child is finding their course too difficult and wants to leave, what can I do?

    The transition from school work to the level of work expected in college can be difficult for some especially if it is in a completely new course. However, that does not mean your child has to leave college.

    OUR ADVICE: Speak to the college tutor to see why they think your child is finding the course difficult and find out what support could be available e.g. extra notes that you can read through with them.

    If things are not improving it could be that your child drops down a level to get a better feel for the work and course before progressing the following year up to the next level.

  • 3. My child is in college but wants to leave to find a job, how can I help?

    Many jobs will ask for a certain level e.g. working with children, hairdressing or mechanics may ask for at least level 3 qualifications. It’s likely that your child is doing a course in college now that will give them the right qualifications for applying for many jobs in the future. 

    A good way to get your child to understand what qualifications different jobs ask for is to look at jobs descriptions in jobs advertised e.g. or Monster jobs.  

    Check out our advice on looking for work and applying for jobs.

    If your child would prefer to be in a work environment then they could consider an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a great way to work, gain a qualification and earn a wage! Take a look at some of the employers who offer apprenticeships

    OUR ADVICE: Many colleges offer apprenticeship training and have links with suitable employers. Speak to the college tutor and the training department in the college for further advice on the best option.  Careers Wales can support and offer advice and guidance on the best options.


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  • 4. My child really is not settling into college and wants to leave. I don’t think they’re ready for further education, how can I help them?

    Sometimes college is overwhelming, new people, big environment and different ways of doing things.  

    OUR ADVICE: Speak to the college learner / student services and course tutors to see what options are available to help your child settle in. 

    If your child doesn’t feel ready to commit to full time education then they could consider applying for a traineeship. A traineeship is for young people aged 16-18 in Wales. It is a learning programme that gives young people the skills needed to get a job or progress to further learning or an apprenticeship in the future.

    Speak to a careers adviser for more information about applying for a traineeship and the options available.

  • 5. If my child decides to leave college will my child benefit stop, if so what do I need to do?

    Child benefit stops if your child leaves education or training. Education must be full-time (which is more than an average of 12 hours a week).  If your child was to leave college but move onto an approved training course such as a traineeship or apprenticeship  then you’ll still receive child benefit. 

    OUR ADVICE: Take a look at the information available on the official website for up to date advice on what you’d need to do if your child decides to leave education and training.

Thinking of leaving college? Advice from a Career Adviser 

Before you make your final decision, speak to a Career Adviser so you know all the options and opportunities available to you

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