So if you’re reading this you may have considered the DropOut route once or twice in your collegiate experience. I don’t want to encourage you to follow this path but I do want you to know that what you’re doing is not taboo. It’s okay. There’s plenty for you to look forward to outside of college. But you will have to work at this just as hard, if not harder than college. There are no easy paths to take. DroppingOut is no exception.
I don’t want to encourage you to leave college but if you must, please, let my experience be of some help to you.
Step 1: Reconsider and Evaluate
DroppingOut of college is not something that you can decide overnight. It’s a huge commitment that you will have to live with daily after the event. Understand that you have lived in the bosom of a supportive and nurturing environment all your life. And it’s been filled with rules and regulations that have kept you on the rails. College provides a rock solid foundation of scheduling, starting with your dreams and ending with your future. If you leave college, you forfeit the privilege of being taken care of by that system and you release yourself of it’s structure. But leaving is a privilege as well. It is not for the fainthearted. Leaving college is just as difficult as finishing. I cannot stress this enough.
Understand why you are DroppingOut. I hate to say it, but you’re not allowed to DropOut just because you’re tired. That’s weak reasoning. You need to buckle down and work hard. Why? Because the reason you DropOut of college is often the factor that you will struggle with the most after leaving.
During this phase of the DropOut plan it’s good to talk to friends, family, and loved ones. They often don’t mind giving you supportive feedback. Sometimes support looks funny. Sometimes support means telling you to go back to stay in school relentlessly. But it’s still support. Keep that in mind.
Step 2: Insurance
If you’ve made it to this step then you’re sure about leaving school. If that’s the case you have to protect your scholarship and grant money. Even if you’re not planning on going back to school, even if you have two feet out the door, definitely set up a backup plan. Speak with the Dean of Students and let them know your situation. Tell them how you’re feeling about school and let them know that you are taking a leave of absence. These magical words will prompt the department to hold onto your school funds if and when you decide to return. Don’t be weird about it. There’s nothing wrong with having a backup plan.
Step 3: Rest
Seriously. Rest. Allow yourself to decompress. Drink coffee at the coffee shop. Go to a museum. Take long walks in a park. This list is not exhaustive.
For me, this meant three months of down time. My Mother was concerned about me. She was glad to have me back but didn’t know whether she should be pushing me to work or letting me relax. So she let me relax.
Step 4: Plan
Figure what you want to do for the next three months. That’s right. Just three months. Some people kick into full throttle and try to find out what they’re going to be doing for life. That, I feel, is hasty and messy. Just figure out what you want to do for the next three months.
For some people that may mean finding a job to pay rent. For others that may mean learning how to improve their love life. For others it’s finding another school to enroll in. For me, the next three months was seeing my Grandfather and traveling to Nova Scotia. It can be anything. But you need to have a plan.
Step 5: Execute and Repeat
Follow through. It’s too easy to make plans that never manifest. Follow through. Sometimes you have to put yourself in an environment that lets you do that. Set yourself up to complete what you set out to do. Before the three months are over, plan out your next three months. Always look forward to the next step. Don’t stop moving. Keep up the momentum.
Step 6: Take It From Me
You’re okay. The system is constructed to make you feel guilty for moves like these, but you don’t have to. The schooling system isn’t built for everyone. Just because it didn’t work out for you doesn’t mean that you’ll never make it. College is only one of an infinite supply of doors, and this new avenue that you’re taking is a venture full of opportunities. And you should know, beyond all other things, that opportunities are boundless no matter the path you choose.
My name is Levi Bastian Redcross. I am a college DropOut.