The College Dropout

Okay mom before you get scared of that title, I’m not dropping out. But I can’t say that I haven’t thought about it on numerous occasions. When I was in high school I remember hearing all of those ~scandalous~ rumors along the lines of, “did you hear so and so’s brother dropped out of school?!” and I remember thinking wow, that is so embarrassing. I will never let myself be one of those people. I really did not get it. And truthfully, I still didn’t understand it until right now, being in the middle of my sophomore year. I finally get why people drop out of college.

It’s absolutely not a shameful thing. For so long in my mind dropping out was this be all end all thing I didn’t want to happen, and having experienced the struggles first hand, I now know how mentally and physically straining it is. It, meaning professors, curriculum, tests and your surroundings. They push you to your breaking point. I’ve had what my friends and I so casually call a “mental break down” an ungodly number of times this semester alone. And really, that’s fucked up. The kind of stress and exhaustion that makes someone cry shouldn’t be normalized. My sophomore year conscience is fully aware that henceforth I have a big storm coming. It literally only gets harder from here, and looking at my degree works page, seeing all the things I still need to check off before graduation, dropping out sounds like a realistic choice.

College isn’t for everyone. It is a MASSIVE investment, and why the hell would you spend your money on it when you could be earning money right now instead? That sounds phenomenal, working full time and having an income, rather than racking up debt and eating cafeteria food. School isn’t something that absolutely everyone needs in their lives. Growing up I remember reading stories about famous people who never went to college and still made millions. I was jealous thinking that they had somehow played the system. But did they? I feel like I’m being played by the system as I write this.

I’m a huge advocate for going to school and getting an education. I think smart people are so attractive, and I value that in a person. But there are so many other things that people can and should be doing with their lives if college isn’t the right choice for them. Go travel the world with the peace corps, or rather, take a break and figure out what you really want before you invest your money into something that potentially isn’t even worth it.

I’m not dropping out of college, but I respect the hell out of people who do. It’s naive of us to judge another person for not pursuing a typically thought of path, and I’d formally like to apologize for any judgement on my behalf.

2 thoughts on “The College Dropout

  1. beachside1@cox.net says:

    As your mother, I have to admit I’m glad you aren’t dropping out . . . and I’m proud of how much you’ve grown as an understanding and expressive person. There are many paths and they all test our endurance. I wouldn’t trade places with a college student for anything — I remember too vividly the constant guilt of procrastination. (Now get that accounting homework done before you come home for Thanksgiving, please.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. W says:

    I couldn’t agree more! College isn’t the right choice for everyone. For a small minority, formal education is just an exercise in futility. Spending 4 (and often more) years of intense study is difficult, and I do believe that – for some- it will be a “waste of time”. My mother – for example – will be the first to tell you that she never should have gone to college when she was young. Her mother essentially forced her to go… it was a horrible experience for her. She dropped out, and immediately started working in what would prove to be her life long career.

    With that being said, “life” isn’t intrinsically easy either. There’s a reason you can’t throw a rock without hitting a 40 year old who longs for his or her college days. The stress one has for college paper/project deadlines is replaced with the stress of meeting other obligations… even the Peace corps doesn’t shield you (or even delay) the realities of a world that owes you nothing, but wants of everything you have to offer. Life – like college – is the proverbial roller coaster. Times of excitement, successes, joy, passion, and growth… and times of pain, boredom, failure and… well, let’s just call it more growth. The roller coaster is the only thing that’s assured and as a race we spend our entire lives attempting to make sure the majority of our days are spent on the peaks. The rails to those peaks are crafted by the choices we make… and the choices we have available. It’s there – hiding in the choices we have available to us – that I think the case for completing ones college education is made. Statistically speaking – at least – a college degree increases your choices. Even if you graduate on Friday, and begin a career in carpentry on Saturday… you now have the ability to make other choices as your life progresses. If you have an accident on Monday and can no longer do carpentry.. you can use your undergraduate degree as the platform to another career… another choice. And – lest we think I’m only talking about the additional choices one gets from being gainfully employed – an undergraduate degree also gives us critical exposure to what the world has to offer in terms of potential paths through life, interpersonal relationships, and an whole host of equally important life skills (which are most safely learned in the semi controlled environment of a college campus.).

    In my mother’s late 50s she went back to school to complete her undergraduate degree… she’d developed new interests and in order to pursue them she “needed” additional education. This time around she enjoyed her studies. She saw her studies not as an arduous task, but as a helpful stepping stone. Not as the wall between her and what she wanted to do, but as part of what she wanted to do… as a choice she made to achieve the happiness she sought. College is hard. Life is hard. Making choices is hard …. we all just do what we can.

    Liked by 1 person

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