How do I tell my parents I want to drop out?
First, do your due diligence, says our elder. Explore your major, then make a Plan B, and remember that you can always go back to college later.
Hello, I’m 20 years old and in my second semester of college. However, for a few months now I’ve been considering dropping out and just getting a job somewhere. I got a job right out of high school, and apart from the hours it wasn’t so bad. I thought college would be a lot better though, so after going through Basic and AIT with the army I enrolled at school. Immediately I felt something was wrong. I didn’t enjoy any of my classes and couldn’t help but wonder why I was bothering to go to them. Obviously I knew that I had to attend so I could get good grades so I could get a good job and be happy, but after changing my major to something I thought I would enjoy, I’m beginning to think the problem is that I just hate taking classes and studying. Right now, my mindset is that if I have to be doing something I don’t like, I might as well be getting paid for it. I have a couple options back home and have been exploring different paths too so it’s not like I’m making a split-second decision without a plan or idea of what I’ll do next. I’m just afraid of pushing forward with school and wasting time that I can’t get back. And if I do decide I don’t want to continue school, how do I tell my parents? I think my mom would be sad but understanding, but my dad would probably lose his mind and be furious with me. I don’t want them to think of me as a failure. I really need some advice on this.
I’m glad you’ve contacted us. I’ll try to help.
It’s not at all unusual for college studies to be unappealing. There are lots of possible reasons for that. Perhaps the major you’ve selected is not nearly as interesting as it first appeared, maybe something outside of your studies is too much of a distraction, maybe you’re just at a point in your life in which university study is not appropriate. That was the case for me when I was about your age and in the process of failing most of my college courses. I went back to university four years later – when, apparently, I was better prepared for it and actually graduated. It’s also quite possible that your path to a fulfilling career and happiness doesn’t run through university studies but, rather, through technical training of some sort. It’s been an unfortunate fixation for many years, here in the US, that the only way to achieve a well-paid and desirable career is by getting a college degree. In actuality that’s not the case. There are numerous career paths that are interesting and pay as well, or more, than those requiring a four-year degree.
You mentioned that you’re in the second semester of college. Is it still true that freshman year college courses are mostly general subjects that all students, regardless of major are required to take? If that’s the case, then you’ve yet to experience anything related to your major and it might be worthwhile to meet with a faculty advisor before dropping out. You might discover that the courses you’re taking now are just a hump you need to get over before moving on to the more interesting stuff. If you haven’t already done something like that, I think you owe it to yourself to do that bit of due diligence before pressing the eject button.
If you do decide to drop out it’s important to consider that, unless you’re very lucky or have some really good connections, it’s very likely you’re going to need some sort of marketable skill if you want to find work enabling you to live an independent and satisfying life. Those without such advantages too often find themselves at the mercy of uncaring employers paying minimum wage and subject to frequent layoffs. You might find it very worthwhile to do a bit of exploration to discover career paths that excite you along with the means to get on those paths. Here’s a site that might help you find some interesting alternatives: My Next Move. A lot of the alternatives you could discover there only require a year or two of study at a public community college, union training, or something similar to get you started on an enjoyable career with a bright future. You’d also find that the trainings those institutions employ are virtually all specific to the skill being studied, making them a lot more interesting to students.
Your parents will, understandably, be disappointed with your decision to drop out of college. They might feel a little better about it if you also tell them how you’ve made specific plans for getting your life on track. I know, as a parent, I’d feel a little better if my son, while dropping out of college, is also working at discovering what type of work would best suit him and doing whatever’s necessary to get trained for that career field. They’re not going to be delighted, but they’ll be somewhat mollified knowing that you’re executing a Plan B.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that dropping out of college is not an irreversible decision. If your situation and/or preferences change you can always return to college studies even years later. There’s no reason why you can’t start on a technical path now and later decide that you’ve reached a point in your life where a degree is what you want or need.
Have I given you anything useful? We can, if you like, continue this conversation. Contact us again, ask for me, and we can go on from there. Whatever decision you make, we’d be honored if you would keep us in your contacts file as a resource to be turned to anytime, you’d like a bit of advice or second opinion about ‘most anything that might come up. We’ll always do our best for you. I wish you great luck and success, whatever you may decide to do – and thank you for giving me a chance to help. I hope I have.
Article #: 493986