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Have you heard that you can’t be a success if you drop out of college? Well, that’s simply not true. Some of the most successful people in the world are college dropouts.
Even though the average debt accumulated by college dropouts is up to $10,000 (according to the US Department of Education), leaving college could be the making of you.
Mark Zuckerberg, James Cameron, Bill Gates and Ellen DeGeneres are just some of the most famous college dropouts. They all left school to go into successful careers in a range of industries.
So, if college isn’t for you, what can you do after you drop out to find success?
Reasons to Drop out of College
Dropping out of college doesn’t mean you won’t have success. But continuing with college doesn’t mean you won’t either. Before you drop out of college you should ask yourself if it is really the right choice for you.
College dropout rates in the USA are incredibly high. It has raised concerns for many people. Even Bill Gates, a well-known college dropout success, is startled by the rising dropout rates. He told students at Georgia State University:
“We’re number one in terms of the number of people who start college, but we’re like number 20 in terms of the number of people who finish college.”
Before you become a part of this statistic, think about why you might want to drop out of college and how you might remain. Here are some common reasons for dropping out:
Every college course comes with some level of financial misery. Education costs a lot of money in the USA, with the average college graduate of a public college four-year degree holding $26,000 in debt, according to a study by the College Board.
Cost is never an insurmountable obstacle. You could apply for scholarships and grants, or perhaps work for a year or two to save money before you start college – and while in college, a part-time job will help you cope financially.
Need to Work
A lack of money and needing time to work is the number one reason Americans drop out of college. A survey conducted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that over half of college dropouts mention work as a major factor in their decision.
While this reason is wrapped up in cost, it is more often aligned with poor time management. Take time out to develop a weekly and monthly plan, arranging your priorities, tasks and time. By using an online task management tool such as Todoist, you will become more disciplined with your time management skills.
Not doing well Academically
College is about more than partying. You may not be doing well academically in new surroundings. You may have found high school easy to blow off and still get good grades. However, the additional academic challenges of college can cause you to slip behind.
If this sounds familiar, consider other sources of academic help. This might include support from guidance counselors and university professors, as well as mentors to help you adjust to your college workload.
Lack of Direction
If you don’t have a passion for the course you are taking, sitting in a classroom all day gets boring. If you haven’t yet figured out which direction you want to take, it can seem fruitless and expensive to continue your college experience.
Instead of starting college immediately, you might benefit from a gap year or deferral of your admission for a semester. Using this time to find yourself and your desire should provide you with real vigor for your studies.
5. Family Issues
Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not stop simply because you went to college. There may be times when your personal life makes it seem impossible for you to continue your course.
The key to assessing whether this should be the reason for you to drop out of college is to speak to friends and seek the guidance of a counselor. An impartial perspective will help you focus and develop a plan to help you focus on your long-term goals while coping with your personal issues.
Four Steps for Dropping out of College
If you have thought it through and make the decision to drop out of college, you don’t need to let that decision stand in the way of your success. However, you can’t simply stop going to classes. Here are the four steps to drop out of college intelligently:
1. Speak to your Teachers and a Counselor
Your teachers may be able to provide alternative solutions if you are struggling with your assignments. You may be offered extensions to allow more time to do your college work.
If extensions aren’t the solution, you should speak with a counselor. This will help you realize and plan for the steps needed to leave college. You’ll need answers to questions about tuition fees (paid and outstanding) as well as any scholarships or grants you receive. If you are considering dropping out for financial reasons, there may be routes available to help you.
2. Don’t Drop out with a String of F Grades
A rollcall of Fs on your record will look bad to future employers and won’t help if you later decide to return to college. If you cannot complete your assignments, ask about qualifying for an ‘incomplete’ or a ‘withdrawn’. It is better to withdraw than fail.
3. Give your Notification
You’ll be advised on the official steps to take to drop out of college. Usually, you just state your intention to drop out in writing. You’ll need to provide a leaving date, and it is likely you will need to fill in college paperwork to process your leave.
You will also need to speak to the housing office about moving out of your campus accommodation if you live on campus.
4. Clear your Finances
Depending on your withdrawal date, you may be entitled to a return of some of the money on your federal loan (if you have one). However, you will be liable for any outstanding amount owed and you might also owe for tuition fees for the remainder of the year.
Any scholarships or grants you have received may also have to be repaid.
If You Still Think Dropping out of College Is a Good idea, How Can You Build Success?
Simply because you can be successful without a college degree, doesn’t mean you will be. People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are successful not because they dropped out of college, but in spite of it. College might not be the right path for you, but you still need to figure out a new path to create for yourself.
You will have to put a lot of work in to reach your goals and achieve success. Here is how you can start building your future if you drop out of college:
- Take a moment: You’ve made a big life decision. Take a moment to breathe and let it sink in.
- Take risks: You took a big risk by dropping out of college. Keep up that momentum and continue to take risks. Doing things that scare you is a necessary step on the path to success. You may have to take a few knocks on the way and risks don’t always pay off, but you won’t accomplish your goals without taking them. As the saying goes, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”.
- Keep on top of your responsibilities: Dropping out of college can feel like you’ve obtained the ultimate freedom. You no longer have to attend classes, get up early or meet deadlines. However, college should be replaced with something else that is helping you achieve your goals. Put the time into building your success.
- Don’t be defensive: You didn’t finish college, but some of your friends will. Don’t make them feel bad about it. This can damage relationships and they could become people you want to work within future.
- Stay humble: Not having a college degree means you are going to have to work from the ground up. You may have to do jobs that you think are ‘below’ you, but you should take every opportunity as a learning experience. Humility and dedication can help you prove yourself to other people in your field and open doors for future work.
- Manage expectations: With your new-found freedom, you are probably dreaming big. You may want to start your own business or land a killer internship. When you first drop out, you will have a lot of energy and motivation for things to get moving in this new and exciting time in your life. However, things may not move at the pace you’d anticipated. You may not immediately land on your feet, and you may have to overcome obstacles and rejections in the beginning, but keep pushing forward, remembering all accomplishments take time.
- Find a community: Without other students and teachers around you, you need to find another group of people to keep you inspired and focused. Find a community based around your interest. They will be able to help advise you on how to pursue the career you want, help you learn new skills, and keep you motivated to achieve your goals even when you are having bad days.
- Keep learning: College is not the only place to get an education. Once you leave, however, your learning and professional growth is in your own hands. Stay motivated to keep learning, and teach yourself new skills that will help you achieve success in your desired field.
5 Reasons Why Continuous Learning Is Key to Success
Continuous Learning is staying self-motivated and being persistent in your aim to learn. Self-learning helps both professional and personal growth and is a key aspect of building a successful life.
Here are some reasons you should be continuously learning after you drop out of college and throughout life:
All industries are constantly growing. New technologies and software are emerging every day.
Staying on top of the new software, tech and research in your field keeps you relevant and able to adapt when changes come.
Gain New Perspectives:
Learning from a range of sources gives you access to perspectives of other students, teachers and mentors. New perspectives allow you to adapt your ideas and grow in your mindset.
You can be exposed to new ideas you may never have reached on your own, and gain ability to use others’ work as inspiration for your own projects or to overcome problems you are encountering.
Boost Your Profile:
Learning allows you to build your skill set. Your career will improve and grow as you learn more. You can’t become an expert in your field or trusted to complete tasks without showing that you have the relevant learning and experience.
When you are continuously learning, friends and colleagues will be able to recommend you for work as a person who is adaptable and an expert in their field.
Competence Equals Confidence:
By gaining new skills and acquiring more knowledge, you will become more confident in your abilities.
As you gain confidence, you will be ready to take on new challenges and put yourself forward for new opportunities.
T-shaped Skills Concept:
Nowadays, in many industries, employers are looking for people with a broad range of skills, moving toward the T-shaped skills concept. Specialisms are becoming less important.
Having a broad range of skills across disciplines allows you to more easily collaborate with teams and makes you more desirable to employers.
Learning at Your Own Pace
As you start out on your new path and advance in your career, you’ll have greater opportunities to learn at your own pace. The internet has transformed the potential for learning.
Online providers like Udemy – one of the world’s largest providers of learning and training courses – allow you to learn where and when you want, and at a pace that suits you.
Courses on Udemy are also developed and created by subject experts. Often, these are people with specific knowledge, experience, and a deep understanding of how people learn best.
Don’t Let Dropping out of College Be a Barrier to Your Success
Learning is essential to success, but college is not the only way to acquire knowledge. If your circumstances mean that you feel you must drop out of college, there is no need to think that this is a barrier to you achieving success.
Some of the most successful people alive today did not complete college. You can drop out and still chase your dreams. The key to success after dropping out of college is staying motivated and applying continuous learning in your career – and life.