You worked hard for the SATs and headed off to college. In your mind, college probably seemed like a good picture. You get newfound freedom, wandering around the campus grounds. You get a deeper and more meaningful education in the subjects that you’re truly interested in. But then you suddenly realize that college isn’t all rainbows.
University life is fraught with challenges. There are studies that show only 54% of Americans who began college last fall eventually graduate.
It turns out that dropping out of college is not that uncommon. If you find out that higher education isn’t for you right now, your current situation doesn’t have to define your whole life. And if you were already in college and had to stop, this is not the end.
Maybe you’re a high school student who’s worried about the transition, there are preparations you can make right now. It always helps to know potential pitfalls to make solid action plans to counteract them.
Are you ready to get your diploma no matter what it takes? Here’s how to prepare yourself or how to drop out of college with a plan!
The 5 Common Reasons Why Students Drop Out Of College
Losing financial aid, having shaky mental health, and flunking subjects left and right – there are many hurdles to overcome in university. When you’re faced with these problems, it’s going to be extremely tough. You might feel anxious, depressed, lonely, and trapped in your situation. You could feel bad enough that you want to quit.
However, when you prepare yourself for such things, they won’t have the power to derail you. Quitting is not the only solution. If it is, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try again.
Let’s examine the reasons why you might feel like you need to drop out and address them, shall we?
Related Reading: Should You Even Go To College?
1. The Tuition is way too expensive.
These days, you have to pay top dollar to get a higher education. Unless you’re going on a scholarship, your (or your parents’) bank account will take a huge hit. The majority of students, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds, who drop out of college decided to do so for this reason.
It’s also common knowledge that some degrees are more profitable than others. Those who pick a less practical study end up underemployed and in debt.
How do you prepare for a large expense? You have to create a solid financial plan. What can you do now to ensure that you can go to college and complete it? What can you do to continue? If you’re a high school junior or senior, apply for grants and scholarships. Do you have the grades to back you up? If so, you shouldn’t have a problem getting one.
If you’re from an underprivileged family, ask for more substantial financial aid packages or look into how you can work as you study. When you learn the amount of your school’s financial program, choose price-appropriate universities to apply to.
In some cases, financial aid is still not enough to cover a college education. Then I’d say it’s time to work a little to save up before you go or enroll in a community college where the tuition is significantly lower. While you’re in community college, you can take a part-time job to prepare for the costs of going to an actual university.
When considering what to study, research how much you can expect to make with your future degree. It’s a smart move to choose a field where there’s money or manage your expectations if you choose a less lucrative one.
2. You’re having a hard time with academics.
In college, you’re expected to learn more complex subjects, score high on your exams, and write a brilliant thesis. All these demands can take a toll on your mind and body. A lot of students get accepted to colleges, expecting that they can handle the workload easily. Most of the time, they’ll find it a struggle to pass courses. Why? Around 60% of American students are ill-equipped for higher education.
It’s not uncommon for undergrads to have a hard time keeping up with the academic demands of colleges. You have to juggle multiple classes and sometimes even have a part-time job. It’s definitely not easy. Stressors like these simply can’t be avoided during this time.
You have to accept that stress, scheduling, and making sacrifices are a part of life. That’s why stress management is a necessary tool to learn in college in order to cope. Let’s say you’re struggling with some of your courses. You can tap into the resources available to you. You can consult a guidance counselor, pay a tutor, or get advice from a career center.
Professors also usually provide their office hours. Take this time to drop in with them and get some extra tutelage if there’s something that you don’t understand.
If you want to go the social route, you can form a study group. Study groups are excellent for deep learning because you have peers to consult and encourage you. Sometimes all we need to know is we’re not alone in our struggles.
Helpful Study Tips
- Avoid cramming.
Do you have an upcoming test? Don’t wait until the day before to fill your head with information. Take the time to map out a strict study schedule and stick to it.
- Consolidate important information.
Having a reference for your assignments, due dates, and appointments is handy when you’ve got a lot of stuff to manage. Keep them all in one master planner or app. You can use these tools to allocate time for each activity and even track your productivity.
- Take note-taking seriously.
Take careful notes in class and record lectures if you have to. If you fail to attend a class, ask a classmate for their notes, so you don’t miss out.
3. Your school is not the right fit for you.
Maybe you’re not having trouble with academics, but the overall vibe of your school just doesn’t feel right. Maybe you have an irritating roommate, or you don’t have a solid group of friends yet. Your immediate surroundings will always affect your mood and how you interact with people.
If you’re having a hard time, you might find yourself trudging through classes and desperately wanting to go home. Maybe you expected college to be the place where you’ll find like-minded people, and you’re disappointed to find out that they’re nowhere to be found.
Not getting enough socialization can do a number on anyone’s mental health. Maybe feeling isolated for too long amidst other students is making you anxious or depressed. What do you do now?
If you can’t find “your people” in school, there are ways to find them outside of it. All you have to do is take the initiative. Go online and search for Facebook groups, meetups, local clubs, and outreach programs. Sometimes, we have to make the first move to make connections with other people.
Suppose you’re still choosing which college to go to, factor in your socialization needs. Ask yourself if you’d thrive more in a close-knit environment with smaller classes. Ask yourself if what you need is a huge social scene and plenty of extracurricular options. Better yet, go on college tours when you’re scouting for the right school to get an even better vibe for the whole place.
4. You don’t see the point in higher education.
More and more people think that higher education isn’t required to succeed in life. Look at Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Both dropped out of college and are now ridiculously wealthy. Sure, these success stories are inspiring, but they don’t happen often. These successes are not part of the norm and came across as a lot of luck.
I’d say it’s even trendy to say that you don’t need to go to college these days. But let’s look at the facts to find out whether this is true or not.
- Those who only graduated high school are three times likely to be unemployed compared to college graduates.
- College graduates make up 94% of America’s wealthiest.
- College graduates earn an average of $17,500 more than those who didn’t go to college.
- Over their lifetimes, degree holders earn around $1 million more than those who aren’t.
As you can see, we don’t talk about successful degree holders nearly enough. All we hear about are unusual success stories because it’s nice to daydream. In reality, most jobs require a bachelor’s degree, and your resume isn’t going to match up to others if you can’t beef it up with a college degree.
If you think you’re on a different trajectory than others, it’s still wise to consider the long-term value of higher education.
If you find yourself wanting to quit school badly, take more time to reflect and consider your future realistically. Maybe you’re only temporarily having a hard time, and quitting is not the optimal solution.
If you haven’t gone to college yet and you’re skeptical about it, give it a chance. Sign up for a couple of junior college courses and try it out. At least take an online course to see the value of learning something you can truly use.
If you ultimately decide that college is not for you, you still have to educate yourself in other ways. Layout your goals for the future and make the necessary preparations. Yes, college is not for everyone, but be honest with yourself. Do you really have what it takes to be the next Bill Gates?
5. You don’t know what to study, and you don’t feel like you’re ready.
Once you dip your toes in the lake of higher education, you’ll realize that high school is a pretty sheltered experience. Your coursework is laid out for you, and you’re studying the same curriculum as everyone else. In college, you have to choose a major, and it’s very daunting to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life.
I honestly think that most high school seniors have no idea what really sparks their interest or how hard adulting is. If you rush your academic choices, you’ll find yourself shifting courses and taking many leaves. It’s certainly not practical.
Some people have the privilege of aimlessly studying what they want when they feel like it. Some take gap years to find themselves. But most of us need a somewhat solid academic plan and career path right out of high school.
At this point, if you feel like you don’t know what to choose, there is a tendency for you to just give up on it entirely. How do you prevent this from happening?
Even though you might not hear it a lot, it’s perfectly alright not to start college right after high school graduation. If you believe that you’re not equipped to handle college now, take some time to figure things out. Defer your admission for a semester or take a year to do extensive research.
You need the time to learn what you’re truly passionate about. Most 17 -18-year-olds don’t have a clue, and it’s okay. Now, how is it going to help if you stay behind while most everyone else moves on to college?
- Students who take gap years are more likely to graduate faster than those who don’t. Keep this in mind because only 590% of college students in the US graduate within six years.
- Students who take gap years tend to perform better in school. Most of them have a 3.0 or higher. It looks like taking the time to figure out where your interests truly lie helps!
- Gap years are great for building “soft skills.” These skills pertain to how you collaborate and communicate with others, making your college experience much more rewarding.
Don’t let your anxiety build up around not going to college right away. As you can see, it’s even beneficial for you to take a gap year. You can use this time to improve yourself or save money. It’s a healthy practice to travel, find mentors, and take the time to assess your wants and needs.
Preparation Is Key
Dropping out of college isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes we’re just faced with problems we can’t handle right away, or we have to face the consequences of failing to prepare. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the harsh realities of life, but you can do something about them! Being kind to yourself and setting up realistic goals are necessary for academic success.