Dropping Out: 10 Steps to Take Immediately After
Contrary to popular belief, dropping out of school is not the end of the world. That said, it’s not the best action either, and it will come with its fair share of repercussions or consequences.
(Of course, we’re mostly speaking to college students here. If you’re in high school, you really need to think twice, do it as a last resort, and make immediate plans to get your GED.)
At the college level, however, life is coming at you fast and furious. There are many decisions that might make college a bad idea, at least in the present.
In this article, we want you to know there are no judgments whatever your reasons. No, instead, we’re going to give you the survival guide that you need, complete with 10 steps you’ll need to take to get things back on track. Let’s begin!
1. Think About Why You Dropped Out
First and foremost, you need to pinpoint the reasons for dropping out. As you do so, you need to drill deep. Don’t just say because you hated it. Keep asking why.
Why did you hate it? You’re tired of school and don’t have a clear direction for what you want to do? Great! You have diagnosed the issue, and you now know what you need to do to move forward.
Ask yourself lots of questions, even uncomfortable ones. The sooner you have answers, the quicker you can pursue a rewarding path.
2. Consider Available Alternatives
As you do your calculating, you need to consider the alternatives to college. One is working full-time. Another is pursuing a skill or trade that is in high demand.
What you don’t want to do is nothing. People who only have a high school diploma are severely limited in what they can accomplish in life, especially when it comes to earning income.
Think about what you want your life to look like in 10 years. What is the path that will get you there that also plays to your strengths and interests?
3. Set a Deadline
A ticking clock can be a great motivator. It’s tougher to set one up, though, when there’s no one there to make you do it. That’s where you’ve got to tap into your inner drive and hold your own feet to the fire.
You can’t work go-nowhere jobs your whole life. There is nothing wrong with working a job that doesn’t use your talents, but you need to be putting idle time to use by exploring your interests and hobbies more.
Come up with a deadline to take the next meaningful step. Go ahead and work full-time for a year or two, but by the end of it, make sure you’ve done the work to set up the next chapter of your life.
4. Jump Into Your Next Chapter
Check-in with yourself every few weeks or months as you work toward that deadline. See what specific action steps you’ll need to take to be ready by your deadline.
Waiting for too long will keep you from hitting your goals. And while a small delay might not matter in the grand scheme of things, it’s certainly setting yourself up for failure to start off behind the 8-ball.
Look for registration deadlines for reentering college or enrolling in a trade school. Pull all the necessary paperwork together (i.e., transcripts, application materials, etc.). Make sure you’ve done what you need to do to get things submitted on time.
5. Learn As Much As You Can
This will depend on how much work you’ve done going into dropping out. Have you spent no time expanding your interests? Reading or watching interesting materials to pique your curiosity for a career path?
Every moment that you send sluggishly going to an hourly job or doing the same thing over and over again will add to how long it takes to find a sense of direction in life. Dropping out is a waste if you’re not taking the proper steps to improve your situation.
However, it can be a good thing if it helps you to reevaluate where you are as a person and grow from there. The onus is on you. What will you do with it? Learn as much as you can while pondering these questions, and the possibilities will open.
6. Study How College Might Be Beneficial
College is not always the answer to a person’s future. In fact, studies going back to 2012 from Georgetown University have indicated that an in-demand trade can be just as beneficial if not more lucrative than a bachelor’s degree.
Our skills-based economy has increasingly made this the case. One thing to keep in mind as you parse these developments is this. The job(s) you work after dropping out might introduce you to career paths you haven’t previously considered.
Be open to these possibilities. It’s entirely possible that college might become relevant to you again as you explore the world of work. When that occurs, you can more confidently pursue the possibilities.
7. Manage Your Financials
Whatever course of action you pursue, there will be bills to pay in the meantime. You’ll also need to save up for application fees, tuition, books. Look into every possibility you can to make this work for you.
That includes any scholarships that might be available locally or in specialty areas. Furthermore, you should pursue grant opportunities as these are often income-based. If you’re supporting yourself during a gap year on a limited salary, then you could very well qualify.
You (or your family) might still have to take out loans. However, doing this homework ahead of time ensures that the amount remains as small as possible.
8. Talk to Loved Ones
If you have some family or friends in your life who know you best, now’s a good time to tap them for insight. Ask them what they think your best qualities or talents are.
Explain to them that you are not looking for compliments or putting them on the spot. You need honest feedback because you’ve been struggling with finding your passion or career path.
Don’t be ready to take the first suggestion you get. Speaking to several different people can highlight trends about what you do well. If you hear the same thing from more than one friend or family member, you should consider what they’re telling you more carefully.
9. Come to Your Crossroads
Have more than one decision you’re struggling with? Embrace the power of writing things down. Make a list of the pros and the cons, and do it for everything.
Evaluate job possibilties, career fields, schools, where and how you want to live. Time after dropping out might involve a full-time job, but your primary efforts need to be focused on what you want out of life.
Listen to your gut as much as you can, but don’t let it stop you from choosing wise decisions over impassioned ones. You might want to study dance, but if your goal in life is to have a lot of money and live wherever you want, you’ve got to factor in the realism of that decision as well.
10. Never Give Up On You
The mission you have before you if dropping out of college is a tall one. It’s a time where you’ll have to decide what you want out of the world and your life. No pressure!
Along the way, it’s possible you’ll feel directionless and discouraged. Don’t let other people put that on you. In fact, don’t put that on yourself!
Realize that you are a viable person. You are a talented person. And you don’t have to march your life to the tune of someone else’s drums. Be patient with yourself and set up a timetable that works for you. Above all, never give up!
Dropping Out Is One Step in a Long and Winding Road
Dropping out might seem like a setback, and it certainly can be if you’re unwilling to do the work. However, committing to developing your passions and interests during that time and being ready to take action will get you to where you want to be. Good luck as you work to figure things out!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]