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  1. #1
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    Default Thinking about dropping out of college

    I'm a few weeks into my freshman year of college and I'm starting to think that this might not be for me. This might seem like an overreaction to the initial anxiety and disorientation of a new experience, but I've tried (probably too hard) to keep a positive attitude, and I've been thinking it through, and I don't think that this is what I want right now. The alternate plan I'm considering is to move by myself to a large city, working minimum wage jobs and volunteering until I have a better idea of how I want to spend the next phase of my life.

    To clarify, this might just mean taking a gap year or two, not necessarily forgoing college altogether.

    Here's an abridged version of my reasoning:
    • Even though I've met some awesome people here, I’m really not enjoying campus life in general, and I don't see myself acclimating to it anytime soon.
    • This college plan sounds thrilling to me, while college has always seemed, and now feels more overwhelming than exciting.
    • Student debt and the pressure to choose, before I have significant real-world experience, a major which might not be useful for my future career
    • I've always been mostly self-educated and I don't think that the structure and pressure of higher education would be helpful or necessary, unless I knew for certain that I was interested in something that would require a pre-professional track (I don't really know how else to explain what I mean...in other words, I know I'm not going to be a lawyer, educator, or medical professional, etc.)
    • And if I change my mind, I can always go back to school later.
    • This would force me out of my comfort zone and force me to work as hard as I can
    • I love independence and adventure and even college life, so far, feels stifling (frat parties don't count as adventure for me)
    • I don't have a car, so access to public transport would be great


    Plans (?):
    • Move to a larger city in the Midwest.
      Why a large city: The transportation thing, all of the reasons everyone gives for moving to a big city
      Why the Midwest: It's not too far from home, and I like it
    • Possibilities: So far I've only looked into Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. From what I've read, both are thriving, and I've been wanting to visit Nebraska for a while. Somewhere in Colorado might also be a good idea even though it's not in the Midwest. I have family friends in Colorado Springs, and living within a few hours from them would make my parents more comfortable. Madison sounds interesting too.
    • Use graduation money on bus fare and first rent payments (my family would be able to support me, too, but I'd rather cover as much as I can on my own)


    Cons:
    • I would be wasting the money I've already spent on this university
    • I might get lost in the shuffle living in a city on my own -- I don't know how I'd meet people my age if I wasn't going to school
    • I'm having a relapse of depression and anxiety, which were never completely dealt with anyway. Not sure of the degree, but it's at least not severe. No self-hatred, no suicidal thoughts...just tiredness, flatness, moments of not being able to breathe properly, and feelings of hopelessness. I feel stuck and I know it's not purely situational, but I feel like this could be a really good thing. Also, if I did drop out and move, I'd see my doctor beforehand and probably ask to be put back on an antidepressant just in case.


    Some things I need to know:
    • Whether this is stupid and unfeasible
    • How much I should pay for a studio apartment (probably furnished) if I'm working a minimum wage job
    • What cities do you recommend?
    • What do I need to know about personal finance in order to do this?
    • Could I get good job without a college degree (what I'd consider a good job is somewhat more clearly defined here)
    • Probably a lot of other stuff that isn't coming to mind at the moment


    I want to talk to my academic advisor about this, but I wanted to run it past some strangers before I waste her time with a potentially insane idea.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    College can be really alienating, especially for introverts who don't warm up to people fast. It's like everyone else is part of a club (greek society) and you don't qualify. That's how I felt at least.

    Eventually I made friends with my roommates and with one person who hung out at the arcade playing puzzle games. He had some seriously foul language that I enjoyed, and he was smart. I got conversation with him that I didn't really get elsewhere, despite it being a college environment.

    From my sophomore year and on, I became close with my housemates and neighbors. Met some guitarist at a party one day and we became close friends. Still friends to this day.

    I guess my point is, you usually end up making friends in unexpected ways and eventually you carve a bizarre, amorphous niche that only accommodates you and your friends. But it eventually feels like home and you start to build...yourself, your life, your mind, your relationships... To me, that's a big part of what college is, a massive socialization experiment. It's not a bad thing imo.

    I don't know you. Maybe you'd be better off in the end quitting college or taking a break. That wouldn't work for me because I'd probably get too lazy to return. But, if what you're experiencing stems out of a sense of disorientation and loneliness, then maybe give it a little more time.

  3. #3
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    i absolutely loved college and even i didn't feel at home until the end of the second semester of freshman year. you are having a normal reaction. it is a major life transition. you are moving away from all the bonds you made throughout your childhood and you may be in a place far away from where you grew up. way too early to throw the towel in. it's time to find some people/activities that you like.

    ideas:
    greek life
    campus religious groups
    RA teams

    join something where you feel like you fit in and where people make you feel like you belong.
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  4. #4
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    Stay!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    College can be really alienating, especially for introverts who don't warm up to people fast. It's like everyone else is part of a club (greek society) and you don't qualify. That's how I felt at least.

    Eventually I made friends with my roommates and with one person who hung out at the arcade playing puzzle games. He had some seriously foul language that I enjoyed, and he was smart. I got conversation with him that I didn't really get elsewhere, despite it being a college environment.

    From my sophomore year and on, I became close with my housemates and neighbors. Met some guitarist at a party one day and we became close friends. Still friends to this day.

    I guess my point is, you usually end up making friends in unexpected ways and eventually you carve a bizarre, amorphous niche that only accommodates you and your friends. But it eventually feels like home and you start to build...yourself, your life, your mind, your relationships... To me, that's a big part of what college is, a massive socialization experiment. It's not a bad thing imo.

    I don't know you. Maybe you'd be better off in the end quitting college or taking a break. That wouldn't work for me because I'd probably get too lazy to return. But, if what you're experiencing stems out of a sense of disorientation and loneliness, then maybe give it a little more time.
    The bolded is at least part of it. About how much time would you suggest?

    Thanks for the response -- it was helpful

  6. #6
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mingularity View Post
    Stay!
    i love concise-ness.
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  7. #7
    redundant descriptor netzealot's Avatar
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    I think you made thread because on some level you know you should stay, but you can't reconcile the problem you're having so you're looking beyond yourself for reasons not to give up.

    Quote Originally Posted by decrescendo View Post
    I'm having a relapse of depression and anxiety, which were never completely dealt with anyway.
    I think this is probably the root of your issue. What's important to remember is that this will be the case no matter where you are. True, college can be an intimidating environment, especially at first, and this exacerbates an existing problem. However, you must acknowledge how depression is mis-coloring your perception, and you will see things through this tainted view no matter where you go.

    The best way to get a hold of reason beyond how you feel now about the difficulty you're facing is to focus on fixing the real problem, not the symptoms, and not the things which make the symptoms worse. Believe it or not, resolving the root issue will probably fix the problems you're having faster and leave you without the mess of uprooting yourself. Also, college offers you more in terms of long-term opportunity to give balance to your life. I know moving to a city seems attractive, but consider how isolated you will be. You'd only be running from the real problem which is not college or your environment.

    "Wherever you go, there you are"
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  8. #8
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    You'll find it difficult finding a job. Most job applications ask for Bdegrees and experience.

  9. #9
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    Definitely talk to the advisor. I'm no expert but it seems like when people are depressed, they lose motivation so that might have something to do with it.

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  10. #10
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    If you WANT to go to college, there is no reason why you should not. Mid-west's cost of living is much lower than other parts of the US, and student debt is definitely a reason to change your strategy.

    But I don't see why you aren't marrying these plans together. There is nothing stopping you from both.

    - Apply to a non-stressful job in the city of your choice.
    - Get it and move there, getting an apartment not far away.
    - Find the nearest community college, and take classes part time. Not overwhelming, and you'll still be moving forward. Pell grants cover the costs entirely of community college classes and books so there's no money out of pocket. Especially with this being your freshman year.. That's quite a lot of money you are spending living on campus and going to school, paying campus costs for the SAME classes. It's English 101 whether you're at a 30k college or a 2k one. CC will get you the same education for a fraction of the cost. State colleges will offset the cost even more, and unless you're going for a prestigious career field (like MD status or something) the student loans are not worth it. With some careful planning and saving, you could have your entire bachelor's degree paid for. It might take you longer getting it than others staying at the college, but look at it this way: They go to college for 4 years, and spend the next 10 paying off loans. You go to college for 8 years, and your education hardly costed you anything.

    Community colleges are more flexible with work schedules, have mini-semesters that can keep you from falling behind, and they have work certification programs as well so if you wanted a job that didn't suck right away, you could detour and spend a year or two getting a certification before you went forward in your studies.

    My personal warnings based on experience:
    Don't move until you have a job lined up. It helps with getting an apartment a lot. And maybe you'll feel more motivated knowing you are trying to make that happen while you're waiting.
    Don't use your grad money for rent. Put it into savings--things ALWAYS happen.. you lose jobs, you get tickets, shit happens. Having an emergency fund could be a huge asset to you, and it is worth waiting a while to save money for rent.
    Especially with community college.. Drop money and pay for the classes outright even though you'll be getting financial aid. Let the financial aid reimburse your funds. CCs tend to be more disorganized on their paperwork due to the load of students they have. It is way less stressful to register early, pay, and let the funds hit the bank later (and let them float to the next semester so you're only out of pocket once.)
    Scout out your cities. Seriously, it is worth taking the money for a small trip over to them. Just stay the weekend, looking around and taking notes all over different parts. Ask around to people who live there. I would have thought Paris a miserable place to live before I went there--and now that I went I can tell why people love living there and don't mind the 1000E price tag on tiny ass apartments. (You might already be familiar with these cities, but if not, it's good to mention anyways.)
    Pick an area that has everything you need close by. Even if you have public transportation, not having things like subways and such can make for an annoying dilemma every time you want to go somewhere. You might end up with some real cabin fever if every place you want to go to is a 25 minute bus ride + the 15-20 minutes of potentially waiting too. It's worth paying an extra $100 in rent if you can get to anywhere you like going on foot within 20 minutes.


    Whatever you decide to do, good luck with it. I will say that not having a Bachelor's degree in something has held me back from several jobs I really wanted before.
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