What If You’ve Dropped Out of College

Posted by Pat Delorean

dropped out of college

There are many reasons students decide to leave college before they’ve graduated. Maybe you had extenuating circumstances to deal with, or weren’t able to afford tuition or you realized your school wasn’t a good match for you.

Whatever your reason, you might be feeling a mix of relief and anxiety. What now?

Just because you dropped out of a college doesn’t mean your future isn’t still bright and full of opportunities. There are lots of ways you can find purpose and direction.

Here are some things to consider doing after you’ve dropped out of college:

If you left for financial reasons

If you have financial difficulties and it wasn’t possible for you to maintain a job and a full course-load, you may want to consider taking some classes at your community college. That way, you don’t fall out of the college loop completely and you can still earn credits that will transfer towards a four-year university or an Associate’s degree. And you can still work full-time and save money so you can reapply when you’re in a better financial standing.

If you left for academic reasons

Maybe you got overwhelmed and felt like the coursework was too challenging and you didn’t have enough support to help you learn at your pace. In this case, some supplemental or preparatory courses at a Community College can be a great way for you to get prepared for the more rigorous coursework at a 4-year university. Spending some time in an academic environment with the pressure off can be exactly what you need to get back onto the college track when you’re ready.

Go to technical school

Maybe you have other talents and interests that aren’t served by a liberal arts degree. If you’re an artist, musician, chef, mechanically inclined or have other skills you’d like to hone, then there are lots of schools and certified courses out there that can help you get prepared for a career in that area.


A lot of people who don’t have college degrees go on to have successful careers. Steve Jobs, famed founder of Apple, dropped out of Reed College. Richard Branson, multi-billionaire and owner of the Virgin companies didn’t even finish high school. If you aren’t interested in going to school at all, then you can start working right away and eventually work your way up the ladder in whatever field you choose. Jobs in retail, sales, the entertainment industry, the hospitality industry, the arts and many other areas don’t require a college degree. If you have an entrepreneurial mind, the money you might have spent on college tuition could be applied to a startup.


Many people who find that a liberal arts degree isn’t for them have active and curious minds. Today, it’s very easy to do continuing education on your own. Ebooks, YouTube videos, online courses, podcasts and other resources can all help you learn the things you’re interested in without having to sit through classes you don’t like just to fulfill a credits requirement.

See a career counselor

Career counselors help people discover where their interests and talents lie. If you’re not sure what to do now that you’re not in school, you should make an appointment with a counselor. They can help you find a career path that doesn’t require a college degree or help you discover that the career path you want to pursue does indeed require a degree. In that case…

Go back to school

Just because you dropped out doesn’t mean you can’t go back. Whatever your motivation for leaving, very few things are definitive. That means you can always apply to another school, or sometimes even the same school, at a later date.

Whatever you decide, remember that there are lots of paths to fulfillment in life, so if a college degree isn’t for you, the world is still full of opportunities if you look for them.

image credit: flickr.com