In praise of “dropping out”


Adam Taylor

Packing your bags, saying your goodbyes and leaving everything behind: I’m not talking about going to university, I’m talking about leaving it. It’s that time of year when many people make important life decisions and abandoning your student status is one of the most significant. Around 9% of UK students eventually leave higher education prematurely, this equating to approximately one in ten people. So why does it have such a stigma attached to it?


From school’s early years, university is presented as the best and sometimes only option for career progression. University admissions statistics reflect on the quality of schools, something they are all too aware of. This leads to many students choosing degrees they have scant interest in. After the excitement of Freshers’ Week, missing lectures becomes the norm and exams become meaningless – the precious student loan is the only thing you look forward to. It may take some longer than others but whenever you finally decide to ‘drop out’ the stigma arrives. You have given up, and should be ashamed and miserable, but that’s not quite right. Deciding to leave university will be the best decision some people will ever make but not one that should be taken lightly.


‘Dropping out’ should be seen as a fresh start rather than abject failure. There are many reasons why students decide to leave university and not being intelligent enough is rarely the issue. Reasons can range from choosing the wrong degree, not making enough friends, just wanting something more than the 9-5 graduate job to increasingly common financial difficulties. Students who make this leap into the relatively unknown world of the vast and exciting opportunities that exist off campus should be regarded as brave and determined.


There are plenty of rewarding and financially satisfying jobs that do not require a degree. If you have come straight from school, then taking a year out to travel or work full-time can provide you with the perspective and knowledge to finally decide what you want for yourself. Changing degrees or even universities is always an option, even at a later stage in your life, eventually studying the subject you are actually interested in.


Having had one of my close friends go through the gradual motions of realising university was not for them, I have witnessed up-close the disappointment the whole sorry situation can bring. Initially shocking but not entirely unexpected, the possibility of losing a flatmate and friend had become more conceivable as the first semester dragged on. This negativity, however, soon gave way to the belief that this person had made the right decision. University is not for everybody and some people are just not content. Dropping out of university however, should always be the last option. Of course, only when you have exhausted all avenues and firmly believe that university is not right for you, should you take such action. However, if you see no longer see a future at university then don’t worry about what other people think. Your friends will understand and have belief in you. Your mum will still be proud and contrary to popular belief; it really is not the end of the world.


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