What to Do After Dropping Out of College? Next Steps

12 votes

Considering dropping out of college? Here’s what you can do to help make the right decision and best next steps.

Are you considering dropping out of college, but aren’t sure if it’s the right decision for you? About 30% of students choose to drop out in their first year of college, so you’re not alone in having these thoughts. But, it is important to weight the costs and benefits and truly understand why you’re making the decision.


If you’ve already dropped out, but don’t know what to do next, we offer some of the best next steps you can take to keep on moving forward!


Is Dropping Out the Right Decision?

Here are a few good reasons to drop out (or take a break):


Priorities: You have a side hustle or a business that is taking off, and it could last long-term. If these benefits outweigh your costs of dropping out, take the road less traveled and stay committed to your new business.


Health Reasons: If you or a family member is experiencing health issues, it’s okay to focus on that first. College will always be there to return to after.


Financial Reasons: College is definitely a cost, so if it’s not financially a fit, then dropping out may make sense. However, keep in mind that you can always seek financial assistance through scholarships, grants, work-study programs, loans, and even tuition-free universities (like University of the People).


Timing: Maybe, you’re just not ready for college yet. You can always drop out now, go build up the skills you feel you need to work on through online courses or community college before enrolling again.



And, these are reasons you should not drop out:


Finish Line: You’re close to the end. If you have one or two semesters left, power through because you’ve already invested time, money and energy to get to where you are, so it makes sense to earn your degree.


Poor Grades: If you failed one course or did less well than expected, simply retake the class. This is not a strong enough reason to give up now.


It’s Hard: It’s true. College can be challenging given the coursework, amount of time, balancing your social life and work, but if you put in effort, you can and will succeed.


If you’re still not sure what to do next, seek assistance in making the decision. Whether you reach out to a trusted family member, professional, academic counselor or mentor, people with more life experience may be able to shed some light on your decision-making process.



If I Drop Out, What’s Next?

So, you’re really considering dropping out, but have no idea what you’d do with all the time that has freed up, and you want to still progress forward in life? Depending on your reasons for why you chose to drop out, the best next steps are based on your goals, but here’s a few options that can keep your life on track and progressing if you’ve decided college wasn’t right for you.


Volunteer: There are many long and short-term volunteer services programs you can join to give back to a community and feel fulfilled, while also expanding your network and potentially even finding a new passion for a future career path. Both domestic and abroad, volunteer programs are always a great option because while you help others, you’re also helping yourself. Here’s a great list of some trusted options for programs all around the world.


Start Working: There are certainly jobs that don’t require a degree. A lot of these are in the services, freelance, administrative fields, and they can be part or full-time jobs. Talk to a career counselor and see what options are available or do some internet research. In our gig economy, it’s also possible to start a small business that offers a service or open an online business.


Freelance: If you have a special skill, like writing, music production, editing, video services, animation, development, etc., you can offer your services on freelance community websites like Fiverr or Upwork. Begin by filling out your profile and submitting proposals for jobs you find interesting.


Continue Learning: Consider taking an online course to continue learning. There’s Massive Online Open Courses and even Facebook groups for people to learn new skills. YouTube is another option to perform self-study and learn new topics.


Take a Break: If you have the funds to afford to do so, go travel, take some time to think. Maybe you’re not fully ready to drop out, you just want to take a break- consider a gap year before you fully leave college. (link to gap year post)


Plan Ahead: Write down your short and long terms goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. Consider loan repayments and the impact . Read books or blogs for for inspiration. Learn something new each week.


Source: Unsplash


Here are some good and inspiring books to read:


The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

Anthem, by Ayn Rand

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Essays, by Montaigne

The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

The Education of Millionaires, by Michael Ellsberg

The Story of Civilization, by Will Durant

The Art of Power, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Parallel Lives, by Plutarch

The Startup of You, by Reid Hoffman

The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene


Here are some blogs to check out:


Tim Ferriss


Chris Gillebreau

Brain Pickings

Peikoff Podcast

Seth Godin

Finding Mastery


Reconsider College: Perhaps that college that you chose simply wasn’t a good fit for you – whether the cost was too high or you lost interest in the degree you were pursuing, it’s never too late to try again. If you want to try again, there are tuition-free colleges that allow you to transfer the credits you earned and pay zero dollars for coursework (like University of the People).



The Truth Is…

Life doesn’t end if you drop out. In fact, it could just be a new beginning. But, it’s important to really take the time to consider your reasons for dropping out and both the long and short-term effects of such a decision.


If you do decide college isn’t right for you (which it isn’t for everyone), stay productive by choosing something else to fill that time that still sets you up for opportunities in work, life, experiences, personal relationships, and fulfillment.


Remember dropping out of college doesn’t have to be a once in a lifetime decision, you can always reverse it and return to college anytime later on in life.