Since starting Successful Dropout, we have heard a myriad of reasons as to why students drop out of college. We wanted to take the top reasons students dropout of college and share them with you. We realize there are more reasons, but the majority of them have to do with time, money or feeling isolated.
It’s no shock that college is expensive. What IS shocking is how dramatically the cost of college has increased over the last few years. Although there are scholarships, loans and various programs, the average student loan debt is around $38,000, with many loans at 2-3x that!
As of writing this in 2019, there is approximately 1.4 trillion dollars of student loan debt in the United States alone. At the young age of 18 or 19 years old, students are going to college because it’s “what they are supposed to do”; accruing large quantities of debt to receive a degree that likely won’t help pay back that debt for many years to come.
As a young adult, this harsh reality into the world of finances can be discouraging and the biggest reason students find themselves dropping out of college.
2. Lack of Decision
The second most popular reason as to why students are dropping out of college is that they are unsure of where to begin. If they DO know where to begin, they don’t feel ready.
“I’m undecided” is a common response from Freshman and Sophomores when asked what they are going to college for.
Being undecided is ok, but circling back around to number #1, being undecided while still attending unnecessary classes puts more financial pressure on a student.
Taking a gap year can be a great solution to this challenge. It allows the student to figure out who they are first before making a multi thousand dollar decision that they may end up not enjoying in the long term.
3. Need a Job
As students need to focus on paying down their accruing debt, there are other expenses that you begin to accumulate as a student. These expenses are for things like food, transportation, extra curricular activities, and regular bills. Typically, the best way to cover these expenses is to get a job, whether it be full or part time.
Sometimes, students can find a way to manage a job and their full load of classes. More often than not, grades tend to suffer as there is not enough attention being put towards classes.
4. Lack of Value
Unless you are going into a STEM field major, a lot of what you could learn at a University can be learned online, from real world experience, or an internship/apprenticeship.
50 years ago, earning a college degree signaled that you were highly educated and deserved a higher wage than someone who had not gone to college.
Fortunately, that’s not the way things are anymore.
There are dozens of ways to build a valuable credential/signal that are even stronger than a college degree. Most employers could care less if you have a degree, they just want to know if you can get results.
Long story short, college isn’t the only path to build a great career.
Another factor is boredom. Students tend to feel like they aren’t learning anything they can use in the real world. If that is how they are feeling, then what is the incentive for them to stay? It would make more sense to get a job or an apprenticeship that would accelerate them into their ideal position quicker with hands-on experience.
5. Lack of Support
Although you are going to a large organization with hundreds of other students, college can still be extremely isolating and lack the support you may need or want. This is another reason as to why students are dropping out. This can be remedied through social groups, but between jobs and classes, there likely won’t be much time left for socializing.
After a few months of this, stress builds to where most students opt to go back to their home communities where there is support, friends and familiarity.
Despite all of this, the good news is…..
You can actually drop out and still create a successful career and life! Here’s why.
Having a degree isn’t a right of passage into a career anymore. Unless you are going into a STEM field, it isn’t necessary to have a degree to get a good job and live a successful life. Having a degree isn’t necessary to build a business, buy a business, or land a great job. We are fortunate to live in an age where we can create our own success without the stamp of approval from a college or university.
The other great thing is that you will likely be able to get a job, build a business or buy a business with either less debt starting out OR at least an option to pay back that debt quicker than you would taking 4+ years getting a degree.
Just remember, that there are more alternatives to college these days and they should be explored. It shouldn’t be the expectation that you know exactly what you want to do right after high school. Take a gap year and explore any of the options listed above.