Wondering if dropping out of college is the right thing to do?

Well, you are NOT alone.

With so many super successful entrepreneurs (think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg) having dropped out of college before they get a degree, I can see why you are having these thoughts.

The question for me is not only if dropping out of college is correct.

You should also ask yourself what will you do in the real world, after you drop out of college.

In this guide, I am going to answer all your questions.

Please, read it through the end; it may change your decision.

Here’s What We’re Covering:

Should I Drop Out of College?

How to Drop Out of College

8 Things to Consider After Dropping Out of College

Final Thought

Should I Drop Out of College?

So the first question here is if you should be a college dropout in the first place.

Many successful college grads will tell you:

  • That their experience was either very important for their personal and professional development, OR
  • That the four years in college felt like a total waste.

This means that you won’t find mediocre answers here.

There are many things you should consider before (and after) taking your decision.

Many young people find themselves in a very difficult position after dropping out of college and you don’t want to be one of them.

College Dropout Rate
As per College Atlas, about 70% of Americans enroll in a four-year college. (Less than two-thirds actually graduate with a degree.)

In addition, about 30% of first-year students drop out of college for various reasons.

College Dropout Infographic by CollegeAtlas.org

Image Source: CollegeAtlas.org

So, almost one out of three students dropout of college in their freshman year.

Astonishing, right?

Moreover, as I just mentioned, the graduation rate is not as high as you’d expect since less than two thirds stay on college

This really makes me wonder if there is something wrong with higher education in this country.

Because it seems that most people are in a hurry to get out of college in order to do something else.

The question is: What are the reasons that make people want to leave college in the first place?

If you have the same question, read on.

Reasons for dropping out of college

There are a number of reasons why students dropout of college.

While every student has a different reason, here are some of the most common ones:

1) Financial problems

The number one reason for students to drop out of college is financial problems.

According to LendEDU, 55% of students struggle to pay for college and 51% of them drop out of college because of financial issues.

So it seems that students need financial aid—aid that they can’t get or can’t secure somehow and thus decided to do something else.

Also, we have to remember here that many students have to pay back their student debt, which is a huge burden for young people.

Interestingly enough, the interest for the term “student debt,” is increasing as you can see below:

Interest for Student Debt in Google Trends

Image Source: Google Trends

Let’s move on to the next one.

2) Poor academic preparation

A lot of colleges usually address a student’s lack of readiness as they join.

Simple things like language and mathematics can result in students not being able to cope with the college workload.

Young Student Reading

Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras on Unsplash

The truth is that submitting college-level work is not easy, and thus many students find it difficult to adapt.

It’s not a question of whether or not they have the right skillset, as it is to get prepared for a different (and more sophisticated) level of work.

3) Not sure about their decision

Most students will drop out of college simply because they are not sure about the path to take.

They take up a path based on what their family or friends recommend, only to later realize it doesn’t interest them.

This happens very often and it is why many young people are “pushed” to do something they don’t really want.

Don’t fall for that!

4) Work and family commitments

Some students simply find it too overwhelming to support their college courses and their family.

Sometimes managing work and personal commitments take them away from education, resulting in college dropouts.

Unfortunately, that’s a reality for many young people out there.

Let’s take a look at the next reason.

5) Failing at college courses

Another significant reason why college students drop out is their low performing scores.

If they consistently get low grades, they get demotivated altogether and start considering either dropping out of college or changing directions.

This happens mostly in the freshman year and sophomore year—when students are more experienced, they are not affected as much by failure.

6) Lack of guidance from teachers and counselors

Sometimes students seek direction despite having chosen a major.

But the lack of guidance can lead to them feeling lost. If the college doesn’t have teachers or counselors that can guide them better, they tend to want to drop out even before they try what they’re passionate about.

Nowadays, we need teachers that can be great mentors for young people.

StudentMentor.org is a place for college students to find mentors that will guide them and help them achieve their academic and career goals.

StudentMentor Homepage

Image Source: StudentMentor.org

Make sure to check it out.

7) De-motivating learning environment

Some students drop out of college simply because they didn’t feel motivated enough to complete it.

It could be a simple thing like a lack of peer collaboration or not finding teachers who motivate them to do better when grades hit low.

Now that we’ve seen some of the most common reasons why students dropout of college, let’s answer a critical question.

Is dropping out of college bad?

Take a closer look at the above reasons.

In some cases, dropping out of college is the best thing to do for a sustainable life.

This can also lead to a student chasing their passion and making the most out of their lives.

So in the end, it entirely depends on what a student plans to do after dropping out of college.

Mark Zuckerberg Young

Image Source: The Tech Journal

If your plan is to launch a platform that connects people from all around the world (like Mark Zuckerberg), then you should probably go for it.

If you don’t have a plan in mind, it can actually lead to missing out on opportunities and lost time never comes back.

But when you decide to drop out, you need to be prepared to face the consequences.

No matter how you feel about it or how it has changed your life, you’ll be subject to a few things at least initially.

Consequences of dropping out of college

Dropping out of college doesn’t just impact students—it’s also their families that have to face the consequences.

Some of the most common end results one sees after dropping out of college are facing the social stigma of not completing education.

Some students also see fewer job opportunities coming their way and lower salary packages.

Many successful people will tell you that the college degree is just a piece of paper but in many cases, you’d be surprised by how useful this piece of paper can be.

If I drop out of college can I go back?

A lot of colleges allow dropouts to come back without reapplying.

In fact, they also have an academic forgiveness program that wipes out the bad grades that the student may have during their previous stint.

But at some institutions, college dropouts might be required to go through the admissions and enrollment process again.

They may also have to overcome challenges as a result of their poor grades before dropping out.

If you are considering dropping out of college, but returning to it when you can, ask the counselor for the process.

It is always a good idea to keep all the information handy for when you’re ready to go back to completing the degree.

If, on the other hand, you are determined to do it, here are some things you need to consider.

How to Drop Out of College

You can’t simply decide to drop out of college any given day.

To make sure you’re not taking a hurried decision or compromising your future, follow a methodical approach.

1) Notify your family

The first and foremost thing you should do is notify your family.

They need to know why you’re thinking about dropping out of college, what your next plan is and how you’d like them to support your decision.

2) Notify the college and your professors

To drop out of college, you need to follow a specific set of steps.

The college adviser, counselor or even your professor should be able to help explain them to you.

Young Woman Writing on Her Notebook

Photo by Alex Samuels on Unsplash

In most cases, when you notify the college, they ask you to withdraw by formally stating your intention in writing.

They also note the official date of withdrawal along with some other paperwork.

3) Finish with your semester

If you’re midway through a semester, it is a good idea to consider finishing the semester.

Since you’ve most likely already paid for the semester and have gone through most of your classes, completing it only makes sense.

It might seem like a stretch but when you drop off, the semester at which you do gets noted.

If you’re someone who is considering dropping out of college to start their own business, read our post on should entrepreneurs go to college.

4) Request a refund from your college

If you still want to drop out of college before the semester ends, let your institute know.

Request them for a refund so that you can use the amount to fund your plans further.

The refund process might take a little longer so if you’re sure about your decision, start early on.

5) Arrange any financial obligations you may have

If you have received any grants or scholarships from the college, you may have to repay some of that money.

So if you’re dropping out of college early, you may still owe tuition fees for the remainder of the academic year.

Make sure you find out about any obligations that you may have towards the college.

8 Things to Consider Before & After Dropping Out of College

You took your decision and no one can stop you.

That’s fine!

At least, make sure to read the following ideas (and things to consider) on what to do after dropping out of college.

Let’s get started.

1. Lower your costs

Let’s think about the costs of education. Is it currently worth it to borrow $40,000 for a degree that you’re unhappy with?

Again, that’s a personal discussion you need to have with yourself. Personally, I don’t think that is but instead of dropping out is there a way to lower your costs?

It’s never the flashy ideas that are the most logical ones. You don’t need a mountain of student debt to finish your degree.

Sometimes we want to drop out because it doesn’t make sense to keep wasting money. I’ve seen local community colleges or smaller local colleges offer $100 per credit.

It might take longer but it’s possible to switch schools and lower your costs to get a degree by a lot. Just that alone might take the pressure off of feeling that college isn’t worth the price. Local community college or local small public college might just be what you need to feel more in control.

And with costs lowered you can work more and pay your way through! I’ve personally never hired anyone and looked at what college they went to.

I look at their resume for work experience depending on the position.

Most jobs don’t care where you went to school.

2. Lower your workload

Another option to consider is lowering the number of credit hours you’re taking.

When things get difficult our first instinct is to quit or think we’re in the wrong place. It’s almost like an imposter syndrome.

But you can cut your classes in half and become a part-time student. What’s the law against that?

Imagine yourself with a lighter course load so you can focus on fewer classes. You might not feel as overwhelmed or stuck and you can save money.

Take that extra time and apply it to something that will get you ahead. With half the amount of work to do you can get an internship or job.

It’s a great way to save money, make money and get your sanity back.

3. Work for a few years and go back

When people drop out of college it doesn’t mean everything is lost forever. Put your enrollment on hold because you can always go back and finish.

Take a few years off, work, gain experience, save money and pay your way through.

Remember, nothing is permanent. You can take time to figure out what kind of job you want and start gaining real-world experience faster than any of your friends still in school.

It doesn’t make sense to stay in school against your will when you can potentially be more productive in the real world.

This isn’t because you’re lacking motivation.

In fact, taking some time off to work can motivate you to work like a crazy person and save a lot of money. One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is to quickly take action when you’re feeling stuck.

The skills you learn working will make school seem like a breeze when or if you go back.

Again, dropping out of college is NOT the end of the world because you can always re-enroll the moment you’re ready.

4. Find a startup that will take you

Here’s a cool stat: 14% of the people working in google don’t have a college degree.

That was back in 2015 and the number is rising.

Right now, you can find jobs at large corporations or cool startups without a college degree. You can start working right now and move your way up before people start to leave school.

A good option here is to create a profile on LinkedIn and start connecting with people and companies near you.

Sign Up for LinkedIn

Image Source: LinkedIn

Make sure to give it a try.

Also, keep in mind that huge companies are hiring people without college degrees.

There is no shortage of companies just looking for motivated people to help them win. A college degree doesn’t mean someone is smart or a hard worker and companies are starting to realize that.

There are companies willing to pay the right person a bonus if they drop out of school and work for them.

Look all around you at every single business that could use someone like you to make their business better. Look for job opportunities everywhere. Here’s a startup called Praxis.

PRAXIS Homepage

Image Source: PRAXIS

Their only purpose is to connect students with apprenticeship opportunities at fast-growing startups.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to take a gap year, a college dropout or college graduate, they want to help you find a job.

You have opportunities everywhere to do anything you want to do.

5. Forget about everyone else’s opinion

What makes this decision scary for people is the thought of what everyone will think. But it doesn’t matter.

They’re not the ones living your life and they’re not the ones paying your bills.

When you look back at your life are you even going to remember the people who you were afraid would think you were a loser? Probably not.

You’re going to remember all the things you did and re-live the great memories.

Without any debt, the amount of money you need to make to cover expenses is very small.

Most people NEED to work so they can pay back the huge student loan bills. If you were to drop out and get an incredible job WITHOUT debt, you’re not a slave to anyone.

So who’s the real loser?

The point is, you need a plan and you need to make sure you’re confident with your decision no matter what people think.

6. Learn a skill and start a business

You don’t need a college degree to start a business. And sure as hell, you don’t need a business degree either.

What you need is to sell your idea to people. One of the easiest ways to start a business is to go out and make sales.

This is one of my favorite alternatives to college. Let me give you an example:

You go out and find 10 houses willing to pay you $100 per month to come and cut their lawns. Now, take that $1,000 and pay someone to take over the lawns for you and find more houses. Rinse and repeat.

Every single service based business starts out like that. Cleaning, detailing, babysitting and hundreds more.

You can start a service business while you’re in school and when it gets too busy you can focus on the business full time. Any skill that you know can be turned into a profitable business. It’s one of the lowest cost ways to start something.

Are you a good writer? Do you know how to work with WordPress websites?

I used to run a company called Clear and Presence Media and what I did was go to small businesses and ask them if they needed help being found online.

So they would hire me for $1500 per month so I could run their digital marketing.

There’s a skill you currently have that people would be willing to pay you for and you can just be sitting on it right now.

If you were a great student in high school, you could be a private tutor. People are willing to pay huge money to make sure their kids succeed.

Starting a business might seem scary or foreign at first but take some time and think about if there are any skills that you would love to make some money and get after it. It’s not forever and you can always roll one business into another.

Not sure what you could do? Read our article on how to start a business with NO money (in 2020).

7. Become a trade apprentice

Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes the best ideas are not the “prettiest” ones. There will always be a need for skills in specific trades.

Roofing, contracting, mechanics, and manufacturing.

I’m in Florida and it seems like everyone has a boat.

There are jobs all over the place fixing, detailing, driving or selling boats. If there’s something you’re passionate about you can bet that there is a huge service industry for that thing.

There are people who just manufacture parts for high-end airplanes.

It’s not the engineers making the parts, it’s a machinist with the technical knowledge to physically create the piece from a hunk of metal.

To learn a trade, any trade, you don’t need a college degree. You just need to talk to someone doing it and become an apprentice.

Tradesmen can make more money than college graduates without debt!

It’s up to you to figure out the route you want to take but there’s a lot of room out there for people who know how to keep the world running.

We never think of these things until our lights go out or the backyard deck breaks. There’s enough room for you too!

8. Find a certification program

Now this one is cool and we just had to include it because I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Certification programs exist in fields where the education system hasn’t caught up with demand.

Mainly technology, and that’s a great thing. That means there are companies that only want to know that you know how to solve their problems.

Google has come out with an IT Support Professional Certificate program that prepares you for a career in IT in just 8 months.

Guess how much it costs?

$49 per month for 8 months…

I wish I was making this up. You get the knowledge necessary to make at least $50,000 per year with virtually no debt.

Also, look for online courses and mini-degrees in websites like Udacity or Udemy…

Udacity Homepage

Image Source: Udacity

And rest assured that you can get the skill set that you need to find a good job without needing a college degree.

There are certificate programs all over the country that focus on low-cost education that teach you a specific skill.

And some companies are in such desperate need to fill the roles that a Bachelor’s degree is not necessary.

These types of programs are worth looking into.

To sum up, everything we’ve talked about in this article, I love this Ryan Holiday quote the best. Because the truth is, there is no wrong decision.

There’s regret and personally, I would rather risk something and be wrong.

There’s nothing worse to me than looking back and wishing I could have done something different.

Ryan Holiday Quote: “Nothing will make this decision easy for you. Nothing will make it clear either. It’s a risk, it’s a gamble. But that’s what makes it such a big opportunity. All the big decisions in your life will be like this. All the things that change who you are for the better will be like this.”

Final Thought

Nowadays, many people seem to under-estimate the value of a college degree.

Yes, there may be many success stories for people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but there are so many unsuccessful ones people don’t talk about.

What I am trying to say is that dropping out of college is not always as liberating and easy as it may sound.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that if you finish college, everything will be easy.

But, the college experience and the opportunity to study something you like is something that you definitely need to consider.

Dropping out of college is something you should plan for and talk to your family about. It’s not something that can be or should be solved with a google search.

But personally, I’ve been there when I dropped out of Florida Atlantic University. I bet on myself and I worked harder than I had ever worked before.

If you think that you’re wasting time and you can be more productive helping a company thrive then maybe dropping out is for you. The important thing is that you create a plan before anything else.

We love hearing from you all so comment below and tell us what you’re thinking of trying first. And if you have any questions you can also email us at [email protected](dot)com.

Additional Resources you might be interested in:

  1. Quit Your Job and Still Make Money (The 120 Day Plan)
  2. 12 Steps: Starting A Business While Working Full Time
  3. How to Start a T-shirt Business (That Actually Stands Out)

Fans of This Also Enjoyed...

Author

Avatar for Will Mitchell
Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of StartupBros. You can learn more about him at the Startupbros about page. If you have any questions or comments for him, just send an email or leave a comment!

  • Avatar for Kelsie Kelsie says:

    Luke, I am in a similar position to you! I am a third year political science student, also at STFX, also considering dropping out. I would love to get in-contact with you. If you see this, shoot me an email