It’s Okay To Hate College

I dropped out of college after three days. 10:00 on a Saturday night, I threw on my backpack, strode to my car, and fled.

Let’s back up a few months. If you were trying to identify someone who would withdraw from school after 72 hours, you wouldn’t have alighted on me. I applied for early admission at my college; I was accepted by October of my senior year. I started packing my boxes and shopping in the adorably coordinated aisles of college necessities six months before my move-out date. Five of my friends would also be joining me at said college. I was independent and academically minded with a car, a plan, and motivation.

I had every reason in the world to get out of the town I lived in. I had every reason in the world to continue educating myself. Then suddenly, seemingly without reason, I told my college to go screw itself.

Moments of shocking mental clarity have a habit of finding us in very strange, very small ways. Mine found me as a sat in my friends’ dorm room, a newly minted college freshman, crammed between them and five strangers, lights out, watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Nothing has ever quite mirrored my inner turmoil like an on-screen acid trip did, and no one finds this more bizarre than I do. The scene unfolded on the 32″ television screen in front of me: the movie set’s carpet mutated up the walls, actors stood around a casino morphing into gigantic alien creatures. I began to feel like I might crawl out of my own skin and take a leap. From the kids around me I heard plans to go out for the night being made, names of downtown clubs being tossed around, car keys jangling, each person becoming more alien to me by the second. WHY AM I IN THIS ROOM? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!?!

Okay, you know what? Chill. The. Hell. Out. Like, what are you even panicking about? (Some of) these people are your friends, and you’re glad to be here, and college is great, and you made the right choice, and you have all this freedom, and you’re having fun, right? You’re having fun, and…

“Coming with us?”

That question was directed at me.

“Naaahhh,” I said, smiling serenely. “I gotta head out.”

I have a really vivid memory of walking away from their building in the dark. Warm. Stars. Crossing campus at an unusually slow pace. Studying the faces of the people I passed. Watching them feel at home. Realizing that I felt like a tourist where I, too, was supposed to feel at home. I walked straight to my car.

I can never be sure of why we are who we are and why we do what we do. Sometimes we know exactly what we want, and sometimes we only think we know. And that’s okay. Seriously. It’s okay to grab a situation and sling it out of your way if it isn’t working for you. It’s okay to unapologetically free yourself. It’s okay to get halfway down a path and say, “Uhhh…never mind.” In my case, it was okay to realize that I loathed my school of choice. Listen, if your instincts start nudging you to do something, by God, your instincts know what’s up.

Fleeing my first college like a bandit taught me that there will always be another path, and it doesn’t really matter how your desire for a new path manifests itself, as long as you are ballsy enough to take it. And that people who will help you move everything you own twice in one week really love you. TC mark

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  • Megan

    where did you go?
    just curious.
    i start college on friday, and if it’s this school…maybe be rethinking my life…

    • A. Thompson

      The school I picked was a tiny liberal arts school that simply wasn’t a great fit for me, for a variety of reasons. Eventually I settled on a new college, a larger university, and everything is going swimmingly. Yay!

      • Sollux

        May I ask what school it was that you fled from? I have a hunch…

      • chris

        I picked Columbia University in New York City. Horrible school! Snooty students, uncaring instructors and the most corrupt unethical administration I’ve ever seen anywhere. I left, absolutely no regrets. My academic program was a joke, and I refused to pay off the balance. Ten years later, they are still after me, but I send them an invoice demanding a full refund for tuition, room and board, and course related material. I’ll never pay it. College is not for everyone, nor should it be. If you are miserable, nothing is worth staying for! Get out and move on. Life is so much more than about a scamming high school students into a system to rape them financially and prepare them for jobs that don’t exist. Take the money and invest it instead. I did, and became rich!

  • Bob

    I’d like to point out that none of that had anything to do with actually attending an educational establishment….

  • um

    3 days? You didn’t even give it a chance. Most people feel disorientated for a while in college (hence freshmen orientation??)

  • Taylor

    How can you come to that kind of conclusion after three days?

  • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

    Good for you.  Took me four years and three colleges to realize that college is not for me.  

  • Mage

    Dorms suck. You don’t have to live in one. You also don’t have to go to college, but attending classes is not the same as living in a dorm.

  • CC

    first days in new places are hard. a new college, a new job, a new country. but you have to live with it and after a week or two you see the good things in them and you start to like it after all. if after this time you don’t like it ok, quit. but i think 3 days is too short of a time to decide to quit college.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/themegmitchell Megan Mitchell

    3 days?  Really?  Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone took your advice and quit whatever they didn’t like after three days?

    • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

      people might be better off

      • http://twitter.com/#!/themegmitchell Megan Mitchell

        They might be, or they might get into the habit of just running away when things get hard.  Because that’s how life works.  You can’t just quit everything.  You have to adapt.

      • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

        Really, though, you can quit nearly anything.

    • http://twitter.com/3thanschmidt Ethan Schmidt

      I quit after 14 hours and it was the best decision of my life. This wasn’t a recommendation on how to live life, it was the personal experience of a single individual.

      • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

        how would you even know if that was the best decision of your life? did you have perfect knowledge of what your life would be like during a 4 year+ period of tertiary education and all the years after that? is the universe really that predictable or are you in fact dr. fucking who? 

      • http://twitter.com/3thanschmidt Ethan Schmidt

        Why are you arguing just for the sake of arguing? Give it a rest.

      • Guest

        it would make sense that you don’t know what the best decision of your life is until the last day of your life…so did you die after you wrote that comment? COOL! A GHOST!

    • DB

      You guys, it’s okay, she didn’t quit YOU. Don’t take it so personally.

  • CC

    It’s okay to hate college after a month or a couple of months or a year and a half. It’s not okay to hate college after three days. I like this article otherwise, I just think that title isn’t really making your point. Anyway, since you ended up at a larger university, it turns out you didn’t hate college after all. Yay! 

  • Sammy G

    Your RA hates you for disappearing like that.

  • Sam

    Sometimes a gut feeling can come out of nowhere, and sometimes following your gut feeling turns out to be the best option, but that’s not always the case. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve suddenly felt wrong about something and acted on my gut feeling, only to find later that I was in a funk, and that I should’ve waited it out.

    I’m happy that things are going well for you in your new college, but don’t let this experience convince you that making rash decisions like this are the right thing to do. Oftentimes when feelings change so quickly, it’s just as easily for them to change back again.

  • Ashley

    “Crossing campus at an unusually slow pace. Studying the faces of the
    people I passed. Watching them feel at home. Realizing that I felt like
    a tourist where I, too, was supposed to feel at home.”

    That is exactly how I feel at college. I’m in my third year. Everyone said after my freshman year I would feel better….they were wrong.

  • Anonymous
  • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

    you presented no real reason or explanation behind this except your being unable to cope with new situations and running away in the most cowardly fashion imaginable. that’s not being independent, that’s being a child.

    • A. Thompson

      I guess this is the kind of essay that needs a lot of
      context.

       

      The school was teeny tiny with an aggressive outdoor program
      and no department for the major I really wanted to pursue.

       

      I ended up at this college without ever really considering
      another school. I followed a pack of high school friends, bringing a lot of
      personal baggage with me. I only visited the campus once. My mom had graduated
      from there. All in all, a pretty shoddy – and childish – decision-making
      process.

       

      Do I think it’s advisable for everybody to drop everything
      that makes them uncomfortable? Nope. Am I glad that I was able to take a semester
      off and find a new school with the support of family and friends before I had sunk
      years and tons of money into a college I didn’t fit in with? Definitely.

       

      I just left those more personal details out of this story because
      honestly, telling people that you ran away from school while watching a Johnny
      Depp movie is pretty funny.

      • A. Thompson

        And I don’t even know what’s going on with those massive spaces…

      • Kate

        props to you for making that decision, sticking to your gut. because, and i know from experience, that sometimes you end up somewhere wondering how the hell did i get here – and what really matters is what you do THEN.

      • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

        #deep thought

      • guest

        your piece would have benefited from this kind of context. as it stands you come off as incapable of adjusting, hating your peers without giving them a chance, etc etc. i definitely understand where you’re coming from with the context.

      • Guest

        “I ended up at this college without ever really considering
        another school. I followed a pack of high school friends, bringing a lot of
        personal baggage with me. I only visited the campus once.”
        This part of your explanation speaks strongly to me. My first year was really strange because of this. I’m in second year now and still trying to make sense of my experience thus far -I ended up going to university an hour away from my school, with many of my high school friends. 
        I can’t help but think what my life would look like right now had I looked a little further, beyond the scope of high school and my hometown. I wish I had let distance sever those high school ties, instead of having to watch them unravel slowly over the course of a year. I still feel tied down to who I was in high school, and frankly I’d like to move on. I crave distance, yet feel alienated when I think of all the energy I put into maintaining old friendships that just didn’t fit anymore.  (sorry for the ramble – this article just brought out a lot of my own feelings regarding my university experience)

      • Guest

        “I ended up at this college without ever really considering
        another school. I followed a pack of high school friends, bringing a lot of
        personal baggage with me. I only visited the campus once.”
        This part of your explanation speaks strongly to me. My first year was really strange because of this. I’m in second year now and still trying to make sense of my experience thus far -I ended up going to university an hour away from my school, with many of my high school friends. 
        I can’t help but think what my life would look like right now had I looked a little further, beyond the scope of high school and my hometown. I wish I had let distance sever those high school ties, instead of having to watch them unravel slowly over the course of a year. I still feel tied down to who I was in high school, and frankly I’d like to move on. I crave distance, yet feel alienated when I think of all the energy I put into maintaining old friendships that just didn’t fit anymore.  (sorry for the ramble – this article just brought out a lot of my own feelings regarding my university experience)

      • Guest

        “I ended up at this college without ever really considering
        another school. I followed a pack of high school friends, bringing a lot of
        personal baggage with me. I only visited the campus once.”
        This part of your explanation speaks strongly to me. My first year was really strange because of this. I’m in second year now and still trying to make sense of my experience thus far -I ended up going to university an hour away from my school, with many of my high school friends. 
        I can’t help but think what my life would look like right now had I looked a little further, beyond the scope of high school and my hometown. I wish I had let distance sever those high school ties, instead of having to watch them unravel slowly over the course of a year. I still feel tied down to who I was in high school, and frankly I’d like to move on. I crave distance, yet feel alienated when I think of all the energy I put into maintaining old friendships that just didn’t fit anymore.  (sorry for the ramble – this article just brought out a lot of my own feelings regarding my university experience)

    • AA

      Who needs a reason? We often live our lives so carefully, and so often what we do (or don’t) is more because of  outside pressure we feel from others . Then, before we know it, we have given little/no thought to what our true desires are and are leading our lives based on others’ ideas of what our lives should be. Staying in college all four years (or in my case, 5 long ones) doesn’t make a person any more mature. I wanted to leave college, and I did for a semester and almost never came back. Then I did, finished, and still regret it in many ways— Not entirely, but mostly because of the fucking scam that it is financially.

    • Guest

      probably just shy.

  • chels

    I stuck it out for 3 years in Tallahassee going to fsu although I hated everything about it. more than once I wanted to leave or switch schools but I knew that I was better than that. I stopped thinking that the world revolved around me and that everything in this life would be a pretty picture. Sometimes you just have to move through it and use your head. Instead of leaving, I decided to overload myself with 16-19 hours a semester to graduate a year early and threw all my energy into applying for a study abroad program for my final semester. 

    I’m here in Florence now and I could not be happier, the best things in life take time my friend. 

    • nole

      i go to fsu and im trying to study abroad to get out of here haha.

  • sophomore22

    I left college in less than 36 hours. I felt exactly as you explained in this article and, for people who haven’t experienced it, it’s really not about “giving it a chance” – it’s a gut feeling that this isn’t the place for y0u. A lot of my friends who love dorming gave me plenty of crap for leaving so soon; everyone projected their feelings about college onto me, assuming that I too would soon love it just like they did. I probably could’ve stayed at college for at least a semester, but all that would’ve been for me was an endurance test. I’m happy, social, and eager to learn – but I lately I’ve been feeling like a freak for not loving college. Now that I read your piece, I feel a lot better about my decision. I’m doing college my own way – living at home for another year while I work, commute to a branch campus and save up for an apartment. I’m really glad my friend linked me to this page – thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500654073 Kevin Kelly Kenkel

    oh, so you’re back in college now? that’s good, because college fucking ruled. 

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    I sure hope I don’t. I don’t think I’d have the chance/guts to just switch somewhere else.

  • dip

    That feeling would have gone away had you given it more than 3 days, hahahaha. woops

    • Guest

      not necessarily..i gave it a year, and it didn’t go away…

  • pesto

    I can see where you’re coming from. My first three days were horrible (coincidentally, I go to a tiny liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere that my mom attended). It still feels like some strange limbo between childhood and “the real world,” but I’ve grown to love it and I’m really glad I decided to stick it out.

    I don’t think there’s a blanket period of time you can apply before a person “should” start enjoying college.  Sometimes it takes a month to settle in, sometimes you’re at home immediately, and sometimes it’s just the wrong fit altogether. Whatever. I’m glad you’re happier now!

  • Guest

    Going away to college, especially all by yourself, is generally a crapshoot.  Some people get lucky and become best friends with their roommate, or they meet people that make them feel at home, while other people don’t really find good friends and then they end up feeling like they shouldn’t have gone away. Nothing is certain. MEh.

  • Guest

    are you sure you’re not just shy and didn’t like talking to new people? ..seems more like the culprit than your excuse of “not liking the school”
    ..

    • Reallydude2k11

      …..really.

  • Reallydude2k11

    I don’t understand why you titled it the way you did. You’re back in college. You sound happy about it. What is happening.

  • Daily TC Reader

    I…did not love college. I did not love it. Did not. I can’t stress this enough.

    Don’t get me wrong I love my school; I wouldn’t have changed my school for the world. I thought I was ready for college, but really after the first semester, I should have packed my bags and bolted. 

  • Mina B.

    Oh, god. This is just painfully relevant. Only it took me an entire academic year to notice that hey, what the fuck is happening and where do I plan on taking this?

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