Dropping Out – what’s next?

If you want to drop out of University, then that’s your decision and that’s perfectly fine.

Rather than struggling through a degree you don’t find fulfilling, you’ve had the bravery to stand up and say you want to quit.  Knowing exactly what you don’t want to do in life is as empowering as knowing what you do want to do.

And you’re not alone in making that decision: in 2016, 28% of first-years said they had dropped out or were seriously considering it.

However, before you just stop attending your seminars and lectures, do give your decision serious thought.  Consider just why you’re dropping out and make sure you have a plan in place for when you do so.

Why are you dropping out?

There are many reasons why students may want to drop out.  These can include financial, personal or institutional.  Perhaps you don’t like the course or the university, perhaps it’s too expensive or perhaps you’ve decided on a different career route.

Whatever the reason, ensure that your dropping out isn’t a snap decision.  In the first instance, discuss things thoroughly with your personal tutor.  They can support you through the process and recommend other options.  It could be possible for you to transfer to another course or even another university.

Moreover, also talk things over with your friends, family and other students.  They may also have helpful advice.  However, if at the end of this, you still want to drop out, it’s time to begin thinking of next options.

Do I really need a degree?

While this obviously depends on what career route you’re taking, but, sometimes, connections and experience are more important than qualifications.  Some, not all, employers are more interested in your attitude and experience than whether you graduated university.

After all, you could have graduated from Oxford with a 1st, but if you’re difficult to work with, employers are unlikely to hire you.  While it is obviously good to have theoretical knowledge, theory can only take you so far.

Thea De Gailler dropped out of her journalism degree, because it wasn’t right for her.  Two years later, she is now a freelance journalist who writes for the Guardian.  She argues that it when comes to those in the creative industries, you should build up a creative portfolio, which could be a great alternative for your lack of degree.

She also says that you should research heavily into your sector to determine the best way into your career route.  Apply for internships, work experience placements, apprenticeships, call up recruiters, send out speculative letters.  You’ll have to hustle hard, but remember the riskier the road the greater the profit.

And don’t be put off when some jobs say they’re interested in graduates.  As previously discussed, qualifications aren’t the be-all and end-all of finding a job.   This just gives you the chance to prove your suitability in different ways.

And lastly, Thea says that in job interviews, you should always be honest about why you dropped out.  If they ask you, then don’t lie, because this will just make you look bad.  Employers will respect you more for being open about your decision, rather than being dishonest about it.

No plan? No worries.

So, you’ve decided to drop out of University.  You have no idea what you want to do next.  Guess what? You’re probably in a similar situation to the thousands of graduates who have yet to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

But remember, don’t feel the need to compare yourself to those who are already in high-paying, high-flying jobs.  As cliched and cheesy as it sounds, not everybody is on the same journey as each other.  Some people take a variety of routes to reach their destinations.

So, don’t be afraid, to take a year out to figure out exactly what it is you’re passionate about.  There’s nothing wrong with working in a shop or bar or if you’ve saved up some money, get your passport and go travelling.  Go inter-railing or go backpacking around East Asia.

Why not use your newfound time to improve your own skills or build new ones? You could learn a new language, volunteer at a charity or start your own business.  If you dropped out of university, because you didn’t like adhering to all their rules and regulations, then being a business-owner could be a great option for you.  You’re your own boss.  You answer to nobody’s rules, but your own.

And what article about dropping out would be complete without a cliched list of celebrity drop-outs: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of university and have all since gone on to achieve great things.  And you could too.

Originally published on Inspiring Interns

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