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Friday, Nov. 23rd 2007 10:11 AM

SurrenderWhat do you think are the reasons why high school students make it — but stop there? College is a whole four years, but not everyone goes through with it. What holds them back?

We looked at several sources on the Internet and found that these are the main contributing factors:

  1. Homesickness and feeling that you don’t fit in. It’s a whole new world out there, and you may not be ready to embrace it.
  2. Educational burnout. While college gives you control and flexibility over your schedule, the hard demanding schedule, challenging courses, and boatload of homework certainly has turned a lot of students away from the desire to continue.
  3. Academic unpreparedness. Sometimes, high school didn’t really prepare students for college. Other times, students slacked off in high school and paid the price during their post-secondary years. The high school goal was to pass (so that students could get into college); in college, it is to succeed.
  4. Personal or family issues. You may have had an unfortunate illness in the family or you yourself just got totally get stressed out from the workload.
  5. Financial constraints. Tuition costs continue to soar, and scholarships or grants are not always available. Additionally, financial situations can change from year to year.
  6. Too much fun — but not enough education. Some students take advantage of their friendships, which could put them on academic probation due to suffering grades or absence in classes.
  7. The school isn’t a good academic fit for the student. You’ve selected a great school that is very arts-centric. However, you realize that you like the sciences better. Similarly, you may hate the average class size of 100 and prefer much smaller classes for more individualized attention.
  8. Setting sights on the wrong major. You may have wanted to be a doctor but after taking several science classes, you decided that you’re rather go into marketing. Does your school have a marketing major? If not, you’re likely to go elsewhere.
  9. No guidance or mentors. In high school, teachers and counselors were there to guide you, as high school classes are typically smaller than the entering freshman class. It’s a lot harder to get the personalized attention that you’ve been used to and that could turn people off quickly.
  10. External demands, particularly within part time or full time employment. Can we say Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? When the job puts too many demands on you, you may have to choose, and money usually wins out.
  11. Time to move out. If the cold winter just doesn’t suit you, you may decide to go elsewhere. You may want to go closer to home or to be closer to a significant other.

Why have your peers dropped out of college?

Posted by The Digital Student | in College Life | 364 Comments »

364 Comments on “Top 11 Reasons Why Students Drop out of College”

  1. Uncle Mike Says:

    After reading the full thread of responses above, I think the most common problem here is unrealistic expectations.

    In high school, it is easy to be a star – even at the best of best private schools. You are surrounded by people who WANT you to succeed. If you pay a modicum of attention in class and are reasonably intelligent, you can breeze through your coursework and make good grades. The standardized tests are easy, and they even give you classes to “coach” you toward a better score. You have guidance counselors, friends, parents, and teachers who you can lean on in picking your future college and career.

    Unfortunately, that kind of support network has drawbacks too. Most people at graduation from HS have had every step of their journey planned out for them. Take this, go here, do that, and ta da! You’re all done. Time for the next thrilling episode!

    College AIN’T like that. When you arrive, there are many many MANY choices YOU have to make. What major? What classes to take this semester? How to split study time? What part of this huge pile of work does the teacher think important enough to put on the test? Financial aid? Social life?

    How do you deal with all these issues? There’s only one way: by facing them head on. I’ve been through every level of the college experience, from community college to PhD. I’ve made stupid decisions, and I’ve made good ones. Here’s some feedback from real world experience that might help some of you.

    1. College AIN’T like high school, nor should it be. You’re going to have to make new friends, or learn to get along as a loner. The major you pick, and the college you attend, are key. If you pick business, you are going to be FORCED to do a lot of teaming and networking. If you are in the liberal arts area, you are going to be forced to be a mirror of your professors’ social and political views if you want to “fit in”. If you want to go about your own business and be a loner type, you are probably better off in the sciences or a research oriented field like history. Choose wisely, and NEVER make your choice based on what your FRIENDS are doing. Why? Because you cannot count on them continuing in the program. As any grad will tell you, classmates come and go – continually.

    2. Understand what your career choice requires. There are basically only two option: to be TRAINED for a professional career (engineering, accounting, medicine, etc) that requires a college degree as an entry ticket; or to be EDUCATED in a particular field. There are very, very few people who graduate from any college curriculum both well trained for a high-paying job, AND well educated. That’s something most of us don’t realize until later in life, and it’s an important distinction.

    3. You’ve got to be ORGANIZED and FOCUSED to succeed. Many of you have reported not liking some of your coursework, thinking it’s outdated or boring. Sadly, the college, the licensing board, and your future employers don’t care whether you like it. Those classes are REQUIRED, meaning NOT OPTIONAL. Sure, lots of them suck, but so does a lot of the stuff you’re going to be doing for the rest of your adult life. They’re nothing more than hurdles you must pass in order to achieve your goal.

    When you arrive at college, the first thing you should do is print out a list of all the classes you have to take in order to finish your degree plan. Mark them off as you take them, and observe how you are progressing toward your goal. Check the degree requirements EVERY YEAR, and make sure they haven’t added or changed anything – because colleges frequently do, and it sucks big time to go apply for graduation and be told “Ooops, you forgot to take a required class!”

    4. When dealing with the bureaucrats, including teachers, be courteous, direct, and persistent. Don’t take no for an answer when it’s something important. Remember there is an appeals process, and you can always go in and talk to your department head, dean, registrar, etc. When you teach, you learn very quickly that the vast majority of students at college NEVER come to office hours, ask questions, etc. The ones who do stand out. Important life lesson: The profs and bureaucrats can only help you if they KNOW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Go talk to them, they won’t bite. If they are rude, stand your ground and tell them “I came to you for help, and I don’t appreciate your rudeness. If you cannot treat me with politeness and respect, I will take this to the dean.” It truly is that simple.

    5. Do not despair over making a low grade, or not being perfect. If you fail a class, learn from the experience and re-take it. You CAN pass. And you CAN find a job even if you graduate with some C’s, D’s, or even F’s on that transcript. You’ll just have to work a bit harder to make up for it. Failure is NOT the end of the world, unless you let it be.

    6. Don’t set yourself up for failure. One of the biggest mistakes students make is to take advantage of their high school placement tests and “earn” college credit. “Yay! I don’t have to take trig or algebra, I can go straight to calculus!” (or Honors English, journalism etc). If you are not a truly well prepared student, what you have just done is the equivalent of being a barely competent swimmer and jumping off the bridge into white water. It may take you more time to go through the full class sequence, but it may make your life much, MUCH more bearable.

    7. If you are poorly prepared, take the remedial classes at community college. Don’t spend big bucks at a major school taking remedial classes. I’ve seen several students spending thousands of dollars in tuition on remedial coursework that they could take for 0 at a community college. Remember also, if you are at a 4-year school, remedial classes DO NOT count toward degree requirements and could add months or years of extra time to graduation.

    8. Don’t be afraid to drop a class when you have to. Depending on your grades and finances, it can sometimes be better to drop a class than take a bad grade. It’s not something to do on impulse – think long and hard about what makes the most sense for your current situation, and how it will impact your future schedule.

    9. Be aware that in adult life, you are going to meet one heck of a lot of people, and a surprising number of them suck viciously. They’ll take advantage of you, demean you, cheat you, and generally connive to make your life a miserable hell. One of the most important things to learn as an adult is “coping skills”, and how to deal with the scumbags you meet. Be direct and forceful with them when you have to, and don’t let them deter you from your goals.

    10. Be aware that a heck of a lot of cheating goes on, particularly amongst the foreign students who seem to have thriving networks “back home” that provide the solutions manual to almost every major American textbook. I learned this as a teacher, when I observed multiple students turning in identical papers. Investigation revealed a Chinese copy of the solutions manual. Don’t buy into the baloney that the foreign students are all superior to Americans – do your best, study hard, and when you see somebody cheating TURN THEM IN. Don’t let somebody skate through a class earning an “A” for something you’re having to bust your ass to do all on your own. Make ’em compete on a fair and level playing field.

    MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL: Don’t build up a mountain of financial debt to obtain a degree that will earn you K per year. You will never get it back, and those loans will hang over your head forever. I’ve seen this happen to MANY students, and the financial pressure can drive them to despair. Ways to minimize cost:
    (a) Get first 60 hours in at a community college, and obtain that A.S. while you’re at it so you can make some money. I got my associate’s in electronics technology, and working as an electronics tech I immediately doubled my pay over the jobs I was working before. That money paid my way through engineering school.
    (b) Live at home if you have to, and commute instead of living in a dorm. You’ll miss out on the “college lifestyle” of dorm living, but you’ll save a ton of money.
    (c) Take a sack lunch in your backpack, and don’t eat at the school rape-a-terias which will charge you outrageous sums for crappy food. Also avoid their franchised fast food outlets which will cost you $$$$ and kill you quicker to boot.
    (d) Go to a state school with a good program and get the most cost-effective training you can. No need to pay high private college tuition, since once you’ve graduated and got that first job the school you went to just doesn’t matter much except for networking. Hard work gets you ahead in real life, not the school name printed on your diploma.
    (e) Don’t take summers off. Use the summer semester to rack up required coursework at the community college, or to work as an intern. It will cut a full year off your college time if you use summers wisely.

    Good luck to all of you. Don’t let the bastards wear you down, and don’t let temporary problems, stress, or setbacks deter you from your long term goals.

  2. Brandi B Says:

    College to me at a traditional level was not a valuable experience. I then dropped out after my first year. It has been almost 5 years since I attended my 1st college and I do not have a good job, steady income or a chance for success in the finanacial aspect of my life.

    I am now attending an online college where I have learned a significant amount of valuable knowledge. Some bash online schools but I personally have had a great,amazing experience here so far. I know college will allow me to have the lifestyle I want and provide me with the requirements to have a career doing what I love, not something I am forced to do to make money. I want to work as a substance abuse counselor and with a college education this will be possible. A college degree will allow me to have a career that I am passionate about. It will allow me to successfully change the world and substantially impact people’s lives.

    I believe if you are attending a school that is more worried about money, football, ridiculing students, and has poor professors that lack taching requirements you have chosen a poor school and you should transfer asap. My online college caters to people that work full time, have families and other things that require attention in their lives, my advisor helps me with time management and scheduling my classes appropriately. Not too mention all the other helpful features they offer such as learning labs that offer free tutoring,an amazing vast library,and labs that offer remedial skills training. They also provide help with microsoft programs such as Word,and Excel and Learning Labs that provide English, writing,and Apa help. Also chat sessions with librarians, instructors,technical support, advisors, financial aid, admissions, academics, and career services that allow you to privately asks questions, voice concerns, get info on problems of almost any matter including tasks or assignments, get help with computer problems and just chat if needed.

    My college is very helpful and I know that earning a degree will be imperative to my career and my success in the future. I will finish my bachelors degree in november 2011 and I first started this college in May 09. I did not transfer any college credits but I am on an advanced program which means I complete two classes every 5.5 weeks.IAt this time I have a 4.0 GPA because I study hard and dedicate certain time to studies. The tasks and assignments are difficult and challege me daily.

    My online college is fully accredited which is important when selecting an online school. I would advise anyone who wants to attend college but would not enjoy a traditional setting to check out online colleges. Yes, the cost is higher but it is definitely worth it because they cater specifically to your needs helping you in any situation along the way. From financial aid advisors to your class advisor, every professional helps you along the way from filing your fafsa to get money for school to choosing an academic program that bests suits your individual needs.

    College is a critical aspect of your life. It helps develop and round you as a whole because you meet different wordly individuals and allows you to socially interact. Choose a school that best suits each aspect of you; from your ability to pay, your schedule, your time you can devote to study, class size, what resources the school has to help you, and the time frame in which you can complete your degree program.

    If the college is not working find one that does and transfer. Your education is one of the mot important things in your life. It impacts almost every daily activity from banking, to reading, to family life. Earning a degree will significantly influence your children’s choices to attend college also, this creates a positive tradition for generations to come.

    There are many more reasons to enhance your life by choosing college. The choise is yours alone. Will you choose financial security for you and your family or choose the uncertainity that comes from a minimum wage job?

    Check out many different colleges before deciding. Compare and contrast each one. Talk to students from each college about what positively and negatively affects them daily. There are various resources that can aid you in your choice so utilize them. Take the time to call and chat with professionals from each school. Go over and see the campus or check out the online webpage. If you are choosing the online route most importantly see of the institution is accredited and the accreditation is acceptable in your home state or the state in which you plan to work. The accreditation issue is especially complicated so take the extra time to look in to the details..

    When you enroll and start your first set of classes take the time to study. Don’t overload yourself with academics that you have trouble with. I learned from experience that doubling up my classes is not always the best solution to graduating quickly. I had to study extremely hard and work extra everyday in order to achieve the grades that I desired. I passed the two classes which were American Gov and English Comp with an A grade but it was not easy. Many people think that online institutions are easier or just simply easy. That is not the truth,. Online colleges may in-fact be harder because they require more interaction between professors and students to learn. Reading of the course books and matierials are essential which many students do not enjoy. You cannot learn and fully comprehend the subjects if you do not read the proper materials.

    Online education, which is often referred to as distance learning, has had many opinions and untruthful statements accused of it. It is your chioce alone to form your opinion of online colleges. College may not be for some people but you can always find ways to make it work for you! Only schedule classes one or two days a week (if applicable) Only take one class at a time if you are extremely busy. Choose courses that have a good student to professor ratio. The less students in class the more time the professor has to focus on you. The main idea that I am trying to get across to you is that college can work for everyone. There are various programs and types of schools to chose from and you should compare and contrast each one. Take your time to choose what is right for you but do not wait to the last minute to apply for loans and other means of paying for college.

    College is a great experience and you havce access to many important educational features. Take full advantage of everything your college has to offer because whether you know it or not- you are paying for it! Learn about student loans, the FAFSA and all means of paying for school. This can be a significant part of why people do not go to college. There are numerous scholorships and grants available for various people such as grants for mothers,ethnic backgrounds and 1st time college applicants in families. Research is key when finding out information about payments.

    Overall, college is what you make of it! Do not let friends,professors, or anyon else deter you from accomplishing your goals and dreams. In today’s society high school diplomas are not sufficient; employers require college degrees and many times a Bachelors or a masters. Please give college a chance because it can significantly change your life for the better. I know college has made a major impact on my life, not just the mounting amount of money I owe, but it has broadened my worldly views, gave me new experiences, new friendships and will give me a chance to have a better lifestyle.

    I look forward to be the first in my family to ever graduate from college! It will definitely be an achievement and hopefully will create a tradition for my daughter to follow! Good luck in college everyone. ThanksBrandi B

  3. JC Says:

    Wow, these responses have continued on for a long time.


    I was looking for better ways to finance my return to college and my eyeballs already hurt from all the fruitless searching. Scholarship searches are not helping because many of them are small potatoes and sweepstakes to boot. I need a more sure-fire way to fund my education so I don’t have to drop out again because I can’t afford the tuition hike of k per year and I don’t have to stress about not having options left for when the surprises do come up. What I need are sponsors.


    I too struggled with the “quitting is for losers” and that cost me an entire year. I had a good GPA my first year for being relatively unprepared, but I had to work my butt off for it. I decided that it didn’t make any sense to pay people to torture me. If someone were to pay me as much money as college students are paying colleges, you’d better believe I would be expected to bend over backwards … not the other way around. I should not be working that hard to please them above and beyond fairness. I gave the college a second chance by staying another year, but the academic unfairness (lack of standards) simply got worse. I gained a lot from the networking and the getting out from under my parents’ roof, etc., but none of that gets reflected in the transcript or the expensive piece of paper employers ultimately wish to see on your resume.

    1) Homesickness and Feeling that You Don’t Fit In — Was not homesick at all, couldn’t wait to get out and stay out. Fit in very well with the students.
    2) Educational Burnout — Burned out and thoroughly disheartened. Not because of the workload but because the results weren’t worth the workload. All grades are subjective in the end and that’s a lot of @$$ kissing on top of the studying just to hope they give you better than a B and didn’t put trick questions on the test that they didn’t cover in the curriculum or indicate you should study on your own. If you got an A for knowing your stuff and handing in the work, that would have been worth the effort. Even if the course was pointless (since all subjects could be interesting at a certain slant) if I knew that when I put in a certain amount of effort I’d get a certain amount of return, then it could be 4 years or 12 years and it wouldn’t make a difference because I’d find the steam to stay ahead … as opposed to putting in a certain amount of effort and getting a certain percentage chance of a random amount of return.
    3) Academic Preparedness — Was prepared for the workload and the intensity. Was not prepared for finding the extra time and money to shower professors with lavishing gifts so they would actually read your paper and grade it appropriately.
    4) Personal or Family Issues — Yes, those were stressful, but didn’t really affect my level of success at college.
    5) Financial Constraints — Many people shared stories of how they were thrown for a loop and blindsided by the college. I suppose I was naive to think that I could plan well enough to budget for college and thereby budget my time well during college not worrying about surprise changes to the deal mid-course and just focus on my studies instead of securing extra jobs and literally not having the time to study, much less sleep. Had I known, maybe I wouldn’t have entered into the deal to begin with. Then again, I was only 17 when I went to college, so I didn’t legally have much of an alternative either.
    6) Too Much Fun Not Enough Education — Education through fun! Not enough fun equals not enough education. I didn’t booze it up or go to house parties or take part in those sorts of time-wasting and potentially embarrassing things. Went to a couple just to see what it was all about and decided against it. No more escorting drunkards back to their dorms for me.
    7) School Isn’t a Good Academic Fit — The class sizes varied as much as the professors’ teaching styles and level of experience. That sort of required adaptability I could handle although sometimes I thought it would have been more worth my tuition if the T.A.s taught the course instead and they fired the professor.
    8) Setting Sights on the Wrong Major — I was, and still am, interested in everything but I was always , and still am, very goal-driven. I picked out my main degree early and attached another degree and crammed a minor into the plan. I had a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” attitude to the strange requirements of my degrees and simply treated it as something necessary to reach the end goal, not a chore or bothersome. However, the lack of alignment and application to my major of choice was highlighted when the courses turned out to be crappy and the professors inept to boot. What was I paying for again? Even if this otherwise might have been inline with a different major, if I had selected that major, I would still have thought that course to have been a total waste of time, effort, funds, classroom space, all the work it took to book the course, and all the paper that course number and description was ever printed on. There should at least be a refund policy like when you pay to attend a program or event in the community.
    9) No Guidance or Mentors — Dand right! There weren’t enough of them in existence at the school. There were only two and they didn’t cover all the subjects I needed them to be able to cover with me and they didn’t have the time, but I made them my academic advisers as quickly as possible. Little good that did, right?
    10) External Demands, Particularly Within Part Time or full Time Employment. — Trading hours for dollars at close to minimum wage at that state, which meant below minimum wage for my state and having the lower wage for most of the year pay for the higher living expense for the whole year, during and between school. Plus tuition hikes.
    11) Time to Move Out — This wasn’t as specific as it could have been, but I loved the snow, never really seeing much of it at home.


    People here have posted that it’s not the teachers’ jobs to hold students’ hands. As a teacher now, I believe that no matter how much I get paid to teach, it is my responsibility to teach and teach well. I can’t force knowledge into others, but I can endeavor to understand their struggles and invest in them, especially those who have potential (and an experienced teacher would be able to identify such students and distinguish them from the ones who aren’t developmentally ready yet). The mark of an effective instructor is his or her ability to impart required learning with the minimum amount of effort on the part of the student. Should the student work hard? Of course! Should the student kill him/herself over academics? I think not. Way to sap all love of any subject out of a person. Teachers need to inspire and perpetuate love of learning.


    High school should prepare students for life because that’s when public education available to all tax-paying citizens end, but most human brains aren’t fully developed until they are in their mid-twenties. Not a surprise considering the raging hormones during the high school years, it’s a wonder any teenager has the self control to study and get good grades.


    In contrast, college is “higher education” and should be about the learning. It should be a privilege that one can partake in if they have accrued the funding to do so (and would therefore spend their money and time wisely). But today’s reality is that college is a business … but not a traditional business that provides the advertised service(s). Colleges recruit from a population that have very few candidates who might be developmentally ready to take full advantage of the experiences college can provide. Their expectations are often above and beyond what their customers can deliver. (Wait, who’s doing the delivering?) Because of this, it is clear that most colleges have questionable motives. Unless colleges start to switch their target audience to a more developmentally appropriate group, they would be setting up the population for very expensive failures and therefore has an unethical business structure that is bad for the nation — the debtor nation known as the U.S.A.

    If we instead accepted that colleges are supposed to prepare us for successful careers, it would certainly be an investment if colleges guaranteed job placement above a certain wage bracket post-graduation, but that would never happen. This would solve the problem that many people spend so much on their education and spend the decades following staring down student loan statements, struggling to repay them and questioning the worth of the degree.

    The other failure is marketing college as the solution for everyone and a certificate of status requirement to obtain jobs with higher status so we can all work with snobbier people who are even more fake and narrow-minded than you’ve ever associated with before to hide the fact that they are just as in-debt as you are now. Again, rage against the machine aside, that is the current reality. We either bite the bullet and go through with it like everyone else and pray that it was worth it in the end, or we can ignore it and still find success, or we can be bitter for the rest of our lives.


    I’m not going to rub it into other people’s faces since I don’t really perceive either dropping out of college or staying in college and finishing with a degree to be a moral failure. My feeling is you don’t really know what you would decide until you are actually faced with the situation, so there have been some judgmental posts from people who haven’t been there yet. Maybe they never will.

    Sometimes the system is so corrupt, you have to get a little dirty to get to a vantage point where you can actually help fix it from. Since you can’t practice law without a license and you can’t get into the bar exam without a four-year degree anymore, I really don’t have a choice. But maybe once I get there, I’ll be able to pave the way for future generations to not have to jump through all these expensive and unfair hoops just to get to contribute to society in the capacity they want.

    If you can find a way around going to college (Lord knows I’ve tried) and still get to do what you want, don’t do waste the money! Don’t be in debt! Don’t put that kind of ethical and financial strain on your life!


    Anyone know anyone who would be willing to sponsor/partially sponsor me through college?

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