From "Dealing With Dropouts," a publication of the U.S. Department of Education:

In one U.S. Department of Education survey of students from the class of 1980, the largest number of dropouts said they left school because of poor grades. Other key reasons, in this order, were that they didn't like school, preferred to work, got married or planned to, couldn't get along with their teachers, got pregnant, had to support families, or were expelled.

Dropouts surveyed last year in San Diego described school-related factors that led to their decision. Their responses are typical of what one hears from dropouts throughout the nation:

"I left because of overall boredom. I wanted to get on with my life."

"The teachers and counselors told me I was stupid."

"Not much individual help."

"I needed more challenging classes."

"I didn't like {the school}. I hated it there. It felt like a dummy zoo."

The dropouts also suggested what the district could have done to retain them in school:

"More understanding by teachers."

"Teachers could have been more helpful."

"Needed more support from teachers."

"Work at my own speed."

"Classes are too big."

"{School} should be set up to help the student prepare for their {sic} future. Get a good job."

"Have stronger discipline -- more consistent."

A survey of Detroit dropouts suggests that peer pressure may push at-risk students out of the schoolhouse door: One-half of those who dropped out reported that one or more of their close friends had also left school prematurely.