My daughter's best friend has decided not to attend college. She's in limbo since she can't find an apprenticeship. It's all a charade because she just wants to work. The law requires you to be enrolled in some form of study or apprenticeship until you reach the age of 18. Even if you don't like school, even if you think it's a waste of time, the law insists that you go at least part-time so they can claim you are eligible for federal financial aid.
She might be able to get away with it for a while but not forever. At some point, her parents will have to let her know what's expected of her. If she doesn't do anything about it, then she can expect some kind of punishment. Maybe nothing serious but still enough to make a point.
The legal requirement to attend school or get an apprenticeship is there to protect young people from dropping out of school to work full time. It's also meant to give them the opportunity to improve their skills and move up within their field which can only be beneficial in terms of future employment opportunities. A lot of times, those who work during high school and early adulthood build a good reputation with their employers who will later hire them when they want someone with experience.
Of course, there are other options available to teenagers who don't want to go to college.
For 18 and 19-year-olds, a free extra year of education in certain sectors is available. If you are a young person between the ages of 18 and 19, and you have been unable to obtain full-time job or an apprenticeship, you may be eligible for a free year of school. This option is called "young persons allowance" (YPA).
There are two types of YPA: community service and work experience. With community service, you can spend your allowed year working with non-profit organizations that include youth groups, schools, churches, and social welfare agencies. You must agree to work a minimum of 20 hours per week and cannot be paid wages. Your service can be completed after you have finished high school or during your first year of college.
With work experience, you can spend your allowed year working with commercial businesses. You must agree to work at least one hour per day five days a week and cannot be paid wages.
You can apply for both types of YPA at the same time. However, you cannot apply for more than one allowed year. Applicants must meet several requirements to be eligible for a YPA. For example, you must be able to prove that you are not able to find employment otherwise. The Department for Education has information on how to apply for a YPA.
In essence, no. You cannot leave the state to attend a university without the approval of your parents if you are under the age of 18. Even if you're past the age of 18, if they're paying for your education, you very much have to please them or they'll stop paying. There are ways around this rule, but only if you're rich or have an influential relative.
The reason why this rule exists is because universities need to know that their students will be able to pay for their schooling when they graduate. Therefore, unless your parents are willing to guarantee payment of your tuition, it doesn't make financial sense for schools to accept students as young as 17.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't go to school at a young age. You just can't leave the state without permission from your parents. If they find out that you've done so, they have the right to withhold further payments. However, most states allow their younger students to enter into binding contracts (i.e., promissory notes) with their colleges, which means that they can charge interest on these loans. This is usually not a problem for teenagers because they're often willing to drop charges after graduating high school. But it may become one later in life if they can't pay off their debts.
The main exception to this rule comes from private institutions. These may have different guidelines regarding the minimum age of admission.