What It’s Actually Like To Drop Out Of College

Flickr / Susanne Nilsson
Flickr / Susanne Nilsson

Spoiler alert: it’s not nearly as bad as you might think.

Almost every college kid I know has joked about dropping out.

Multiple times.

Of course everyone laughs it off and goes about their business. And for most people, that’s all it is- an amusing way to relieve some of the overwhelming stress of college life. But what about those of us who actually do it? What then? How are you even supposed to feel about something that huge?

The first thing I felt was immense relief.

For the first time in my life I’m taking a huge risk without knowing how it’s going to pan out in the long run. I have a roughly sketched plan, of course- that’s just who I am. The big difference is that it no longer includes a prestigious university. But I went through two years of college, and I was miserable. Not in an, I’m-so-lonely or even an I-can’t-handle-this kind of way. I was miserable because I was trying to force myself to be someone I’m not. I was pursuing a degree that I no longer felt passionate about simply because I felt a misplaced sense of obligation. To my parents, to myself, even to society. But who does it benefit if I put myself through school without giving it my whole heart?

If you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, why do it? Seriously. I know that most of our society revers college as the One True Way to a happy, respectable life. And for some people, that works wonderfully. Don’t think that I’m bashing people who go to a four-year university and graduate with honors. That takes a level of commitment and-quite honestly- courage that many of us don’t have. But those who feel trapped or confused by the whole thing should be free to find themselves elsewhere.

There will be people that disagree with me on this. Or maybe they’ll think I’m just an idealistic kid who lacks real life experience. But shouldn’t we all try to embrace those idealistic parts of ourselves that encourage us to do crazy things? Wear your heart on your sleeve, say what you mean, and do what you love. You risk missing out on so much if you hold yourself back.

I’ve already experienced some judgment because of my decision, and honestly I’ll probably receive more as time goes on. But here’s the thing:

I don’t care.

I am finally, finally going to pursue the thing I’m truly passionate about. You can tell me it’s dangerous, or risky, but the truth is that life is inherently dangerous and risky. Those factors will exist no matter what you do, so you may as well enjoy the ride. TC mark

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