It's Okay To Be A Drop-Out

Thursday, 5 December 2013

I am a university drop-out. What's more, I am a second time university drop-out. Today, young people have it drilled into them: after school, you must go to university, you must get a degree, you must face tens of thousands of pounds of debt and eventually, you might not even get that dream job you've got your heart set on. University is not for everyone, and I'm a huge advocate that young people need to be given other options that don't involve them being laden with unwanted debt, stress and all of the other hardships that go along with forcing yourself into a degree. The first time I went to university I was 18, it was my first time away from home and I was totally up for a year of freedom, partying and exploiting my new-found independence to the max. I chose a course that I wasn't exactly passionate about, purely for the fact that I felt I had to go to university, neglecting the fact that this meant studying something I wasn't bothered about for 4 years and ultimately having nothing to show for it. I left that course after first year because, despite passing my assignments and exams, I realised that I couldn't see myself studying something I hated for 4 years and being stuck with a degree I didn't want or need at the end of it. The hardest part of leaving university was telling my parents, who I anticipated would be disappointed beyond belief. Granted, they were a little disappointed, but they understood that I was 18, hadn't a clue what I wanted to do with my life, and they supported me.

I spent the next few years dipping in and out of various courses, jobs and generally being a bit flaky in most aspects of life. Finally, at the grand old age of 21, I realised that what I wanted to do with my life, and what I'd always subconsciously wanted to do, was to write. I promptly applied for a journalism degree and, content with my decision, I moved to the other end of the country and started a whole new, slightly terrifying, life. I didn't know anyone down south, and I felt instantly disconnected with the university, the town and the people. Despite this, I found myself really enjoying the course - more so than any other course I've tried, which is surely a positive sign. I was flying through assignments and feeling increasingly confident with my choice of career. Until, that is, I had a sudden realisation that I was getting myself into a hell of a lot of debt for something that might not even be worth it. Whereas when I studied in Scotland, tuition fees were nothing but a non-issue, the move to England brought me down to earth with a jolt - a £9000 a year jolt, to be exact.

I've spent all week um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not I could justify this and, as much as I would love to get a degree in journalism, I've found another option which is much more sensible. The decision was actually more terrifying this time round, I had to leave my seminar in tears to ring my mum and I broke down on the phone. I was so scared of disappointing everyone yet again, I was scared of proving everyone right who said I wouldn't "stick this one out" but the relief that washed over me when I told my mum my concerns was massive. I've come to the conclusion that university just isn't for me, and as scary and stressful as that is, it's okay. Bearing in mind that graduate prospects are dwindling, I fear for those who undertake degrees purely to prove a point or because it's what they are "supposed" to do or because it's what their family wants them to do. Young people need to be shown that there are more options than just going to university, whether that's working or travelling or apprenticeship schemes or whatever the hell makes you happy.

Forcing myself into taking a route that I felt obligated to take was probably the worst, and most expensive, mistake that I've made so far in life. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I know plenty of people who have left university, opting for more vocational routes into their chosen industry. I may not have earned a degree, but I have learnt a lot through my time at university. Do what makes you happy, never make decisions to pacify others and always, always, always trust your instincts. University is not the be all and end all that it's made out to be.


  1. I dropped out of university (a journalism degree too) after my first year. I definitely felt very unprepared and rushed into uni, and whilst I've contemplated going back, I really don't think university is for me. I'm always really proud of people that make the decision to leave if they aren't enjoying it. It's really hard to do but people really shouldn't feel like they have to go to university, especially when they have no idea what they want to do in the future. xx

  2. This is a lovely post! It's definitely true. I went to university and absolutely LOVED every second, but it's such a personal thing. Plus, for journalism, there are NCTJ courses which are a fraction of the price and all you need to be a great journalist. I'm haflway through mine and it almost makes me regret getting into all that debt! xxx

  3. This is such an insightful post. Of my group of friends at home, half of us went off to university and already half of those have dropped out. It really isn't for everyone and people shouldn't feel like this in any way is a negative thing. Such a brilliant post. xx

  4. I definitely did my degree because we weren't given any other option by my school - if you didn't want to go, they gave you no help at all with college courses or getting into full time work/apprenticeships. I came close to dropping out and eventually made it through - I'm glad I have a degree but it has got me nowhere so far and I'll have to do extra courses to get into a career I'm interested in xx

  5. A really good post hun! Very genuine ♥

  6. Great post and I can identify with a lot of what you've said. I grew thinking university was the natural step after college and I never even considered that there was an alternative route. I dropped out of a Journalism course after 3 months - I went home for Christmas and never went back. It just wasn't for me. 8 years later I've thankfully never regretted leaving. If I went back in time I would go to uni very close to home and commute. I'm not doing anything like journalism now, but I did other studying and I'd say I'm earning a good wage - not having a degree hasn't held me back at all.
    Good luck for the future in whatever you do and well done for doing the right thing for you! It's so easy to do what others think is the right thing xx

  7. I totally agree, I ended up dropping out twice and I don't regret it at all. Uni isn't for everyone & I wish there had been a little more guidance and advice available when I was at college!

    Jennie xo |

  8. This is the sort of information young people should have access to alongside all the UCAS information. I went to university after choosing something that I thought I'd be interested in, right out of high school. I did stick it out for the 4 years and got my honours, but am now in a job that I really don't enjoy, with no foreseeable way out. Luckily, I am Scottish and went to a Scottish university so I am in no debt, but schools really need to seriously consider pushing children to decide what they want to do with their lives at 17. I told my sister, and her friends that they should really take their own paths when leaving school and now she is in a course she genuinely enjoys after taking a year out. This is a truly brilliant piece of writing. Xx



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