Too often college students reach their second year and choose to drop out. Now what? There are some questions you need to ask yourself. Get brutally honest and take a few forward steps until you find your balance again.
Could taking a break help your situation? Sometimes the pressure of studies, new environments, etc. take its toll on you. Campus living alone is enough to make some people run for the hills. Some universities offer work/study programs to ease stress. Many offer study-abroad programs that usher in new experiences. And others allow you to take a leave of absence. Know the options and maybe consider one of them before giving up completely.
Talk it over with your parents. I know this one can be tough especially if you’re feeling like you failed them, but trust me, they’ve failed before too, and they’re an excellent resource to have on your side. Share your feelings. Get transparent. Then be a good listener (even if you’d prefer to justify yourself). Ask their opinion on the next step always remembering that it’s your life and your decision. You may have to make hard choices in spite of their counsel.
Get a full-time job ASAP! Get a job, even if it’s in a field that isn’t your final career choice. Working will go a long way to making you feel better about yourself, picking up the financial slack, and get you back out there and into a routine. It will also demonstrate to by-standers that you’re serious about 1) being an adult and 2) moving forward.
Think About It. Turn this into a life lesson. Ask yourself the hard questions. Why don’t I want to stay in college? Is it this college? College in general? What was wrong with my original plan? How can I adjust it to serve me better? Will another college (community, trade-college, university) serve me better? What do I want to spend my life doing? Is there a way to try that out before I invest in more training? What kind of training/certificate/degree exactly do I need to do what I want to do? Do I need a degree to do what I really want to do? Ask yourself: What would I do every day even if I didn’t get paid for it? What’s my passion? Is there a market for it?
Volunteer and interview: Find people doing what you think you’d like to do. Ask to interview them. Plan your questions ahead; thoughtful questions, not yes or no ones. For examples check out www.TMWLife.com Featured Women’s section. These are entrepreneurs. All of them are asked the same ten questions, read the wide variety of answers and then set up your questions. Ask if you can work alongside the people you’ve interviewed. Volunteer to work with them for two weeks. Get a feel for the job. Then make your decision about choosing to pursuing a particular career.
Set a Plan and Do It: Motivate yourself to move forward. Set SMART goals. Make them: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. Now that your parents understand that your dream is your dream and you don’t have teachers holding a grade over your head, it’s time to learn how to motivate yourself. Write out your goals. Set them on a calendar with enough time to get them done but not so much that you can stay stuck. Make a bucket list (adding small and large desires on it). Make it known to your family and friends. When you accomplish a goal, celebrate by doing something on your bucket list. Soon you’ll learn to push yourself and rightly reward yourself.
Remember, you’ve just stepped out of one plan but that doesn’t mean another strategy won’t work for you. Life is about constantly adjusting. You are simply about to take your life down a different path. That’s okay. It may take others time to accept your choice, but they will. In the meantime, be intentional.
If you need to attend college to do what you want to do, then get to it. Realize that although the task feels daunting, it’s a short season in your life that will soon pass. Then you’ll be free to pursue your dream job.
And if your journey brings you to a place where college is not the path for you, then find out what it takes to be successful in your chosen field and fully engage. Time will tell if this was the correct path for you. Own your choices and remember you are the one who must live your life. Choose to live it well.