12 Things to Do If You Drop Out of College

Illustration of a student throwing her graduation cap away

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Let’s make one thing clear: dropping out of college or university isn’t the end of the world!

We get that your parents have probably disowned you, and your student maintenance has been cut off, but there’s a plus side – I promise!

The truth is: dropping out of college can be one of the best things to happen to you. Just take Mark Zuckerberg, for example!

But not everyone has a thriving business to fall back on, which can make things a little trickier. But don’t worry because we’ve compiled a list of things you can do if you decide to quit school!

1. Look into a school leaver programme

School leaver programmes were introduced in the UK to give school leavers an opportunity to obtain a qualification without the hefty price tag of a university degree. Like an apprenticeship, those on a school leaver programme will work for a company that funds their education.

The difference is that these programmes can be found in a variety of different sectors, from banking and accounting to marketing and engineering.

Depending on the company, some entry requirements may be stricter than others. But, in general, you’ll need great A-level results or over 320 UCAS points.

Nonetheless, if money is the reason for your dropout, this type of programme could be the ideal solution for you.

2. Look for an internship

If, on the other hand, you prefer to get some hands-on industry experience instead of wasting your time listening to somebody else’s experience in a lecture hall, then interning could be ideal for you.

If you want to become a journalist, for example, you could apply to intern at a magazine, which will add significant credibility to your CV and may even result in a full-time job.

The downside? Most internships are unpaid (especially without a uni degree), so you’ll need to have some financial backing or to work on the weekend to make sure you have some cash in your back pocket.

3. Get a part-time job

If you’re unsure about which route to take, you could find a part-time job in the meantime. And it really doesn’t matter if it’s got nothing to do with your long-term career goals.

What matters is that it will show potential employers that you’ve got a great work ethic and that you’re willing to gain as many transferable skills as you can.

One of the best roles to get into as a school leaver is a customer service role. It will help you build your confidence and use your initiative, and it will also teach you how to handle different personalities.

4. Apply for an apprenticeship

Many people assume that apprenticeships are only for people who want to go into construction, but that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, apprenticeships are spread over a wide range of industries, including – but not limited to – engineering, architecture, law, beauty, hairdressing and even teaching.

The best thing about an apprenticeship is that you can work your way up to a foundation degree and an internationally recognised certificate, ensuring that you’re qualified in your chosen field at the end of your apprenticeship programme.

It doesn’t end with the education – while you’re an apprentice, you’ll also receive a small wage for the work that you do on the job!

5. Consider an online education

Sometimes, the whole hustle and bustle of student life and the university campus is more stressful than fun! You might be an introvert who just doesn’t like interacting with lots of people, or you might have had a bad experience with your dorm mates.

If this is the case, obtaining an online degree from the comfort of your own home may be the right choice for you! Today, plenty of long-standing, accredited and nationally-recognized universities offer a variety of comprehensive online degree programs to choose from.

The greatest benefit of an online degree? You’ll save heaps on university fees, and you’ll be able to work at your own pace. So, you could end up with a qualification in a year, when it may have otherwise have taken you three years if you had completed it in a university setting.

Browse online courses on Coursera here

6. Start a business

If you’re anything like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and you have a life-changing business idea, go for your dreams and stop wasting your time at college!

If, on the other hand, you have a side business that needs more attention to take off, also dedicate the time to your aspirations.

But if you really don’t know what to do once you’ve dropped out of university, and you have a passion for something, then consider starting your own business and being your own boss.

The good news is that we’re living in a digital age, which means setting up an online store or service has never been easier. All you need is a great website and a strong social media presence!

7. Transfer courses

Sometimes, it might not be the college experience that you hate but rather the course that you’re doing!

If that’s the case, then you should strongly consider changing a part of your course or the entire thing altogether.

For example, when I started my degree, I really disliked part of it and swapped to another course that was a lot more interesting and useful for the path that I wanted to take!

So, if you too have your doubts early on, don’t hesitate to nip it in the bud and find something that you truly enjoy!

8. Apply to another college or university

Another reason people drop out of school is the college or university itself. Often, the establishment and the social scene just isn’t a right fit for certain students.

If you happen to be one of them, consider transferring schools instead of throwing in the towel – even if you’re heading into your second year of university. Just make sure you consider all your options and visit the campus to ensure that it will be the right step for you.

9. Take a gap year

If you’re unsure of whether higher education is right for you, you could speak to your dean or lecturer and see if you can take a gap year.

During this time, you could explore a few of the other alternatives on this list to see if any of the options are a better fit for you.

You will need to check that you can return to school with the same record and pick up where you left off – if you do decide to go back to higher education, that is!

10. Do some volunteer work

Volunteer work is a great way to find your true purpose in life and to gain the professional skills that will be useful to you throughout your career. It’s also an excellent opportunity to work towards a cause that you feel passionate about.

That way, you’ll feel that dropping out of university was a good idea, and you’ll also get to meet people that may be able to help you find a full-time job. And don’t forget that it will also look great on your CV!

11. Write a blog

Starting a blog can map the path to hundreds of opportunities.

It can work out to be your primary source of income, or it can help you showcase your knowledge and expertise in your field when it comes to interviewing for a full-time position.

Even if you start writing about your experiences being a university dropout, you could end up opening a box full of new opportunities!

12. Get an entry-level job

If you’re 100% sure that you don’t want to continue your education, then it’s time to find an entry-level position in your field of interest.

To get your job search started, sign up to different recruitment agencies that can help find your ideal position.

Even if you start off in a position that isn’t what you really want, don’t worry! So long as you’re gaining transferable skills, you’ll be able to move across into something more desirable.

You never know – you could even jump across departments once you’ve got on your feet!

As you can see, dropping out of university doesn’t have to have such a bad thing!

If higher education isn’t for you, you don’t need to force yourself to continue exploring it. Instead, you can find more fitting options.

Have you ever dropped out of college or university? What did you do? Let us know in the comments section below!