School just wasn’t for me – graduate

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A Dunedin student is helping to destroy the stigma of being a school dropout.

Last week the city’s streets were bustling with University of Otago students wearing gowns for their graduation celebrations.

For 20-year-old Ryan Jones it was extra special.

Mr Jones left school at the age of 15 as he felt “school just wasn’t for me”.

After six months off, he decided to go to Otago Polytechnic with no real intention of going to university.

But in 2014, he completed foundation studies, making him eligible to go to university.

After encouragement from his peers, Mr Jones decided to take the leap and go to university the next year.

As of Wednesday last week he is the holder of a bachelor of arts degree majoring in politics and with a minor in Maori.

He is also a member of the West Harbour Community Board.

Mr Jones said when he initially left school it felt like a “burden” for him and “at the end of the day, school just wasn’t for me”.

” Dropping out isn’t a bad thing.

“There is an expectation to stay right through [until the end of year 13] but there are other options.”

He said as long as people who did leave school early stayed motivated and explored other options, there was nothing wrong with being a “high school drop-out”.

Next year he planned to do a master’s degree but was not 100% sure what he was going to study, he said.

In future he hoped to research affordable housing.