- I went to my dream college for one year before I had to drop out because I had to work full-time to support myself financially.
- Ultimately, I don’t regret dropping out of college because I am able to support myself and my partner and I’ve never struggled to find jobs.
- Plus, just because I’m not in college classrooms doesn’t mean I stopped learning; I still learn a lot by reading books and teaching myself languages.
- I’m also grateful that I don’t have all of the student debt that often comes along with a college degree.
- Even though I don’t regret my choice, not getting my degree helped me realise that the educational system in the US is broken. No one should have to choose between working to support themselves and getting an education the way I did.
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In 2002, I moved to New York City to attend my dream college and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Unfortunately, after just one year, I dropped out because my fees were too expensive and I had no financial help to cover living costs.
Looking back, I don’t regret my decision to work full-time and support myself instead of pursuing a degree.
Here are some of my biggest takeaways from dropping out of college.
Not having a degree has never been a roadblock to my success nor has it stopped me from being employed.
Since I turned 16 years old, I’ve consistently had a job (with the exception of a three-month period in which I was briefly unemployed).
I’ve worked as a cashier, an administrative assistant, an account representative at a post-production company, and as a writer and editor, which I’ve been doing full-time now for roughly a decade.
And I didn’t need a degree to get any of those jobs – all I really needed was plenty of motivation and a great work ethic.
Sure, I’m not a multi-millionaire or running a Fortune-500 company, but I’m able to support myself and my partner and lead a really comfortable lifestyle, which I consider a success.
Real-world experience counts for a lot more than I ever thought, and I’m glad I took time to work multiple jobs instead of getting a degree.
All of the companies I’ve worked for over the years have never made had an issue with my lack of a degree, even if it was technically a requirement for the position.
When job hunting, I’ve also found that I haven’t really been entirely disregarded as an applicant so long as I had relevant experience.
Potential employers were often impressed by my solid work history, my longevity in previous jobs, and how I’ve worked my way up the ladder in each position.
In terms of getting hired, I feel like my work experience always seemed to do more for me than a college degree ever could.
I don’t feel like I’ve stopped learning just because I didn’t get my degree.
This sounds obvious to some, but I never realised how much I would continue to learn once I was no longer regularly attending college classes.
I loved the classes I took in college, which ranged from a slam-poetry class to a history course about the events leading up to World War II. And, I enjoyed everything that came with being a student, from writing essays to having class discussions.
But, fortunately, I don’t feel intellectually stunted just because I skipped out on a few years of coursework and lectures.
I’ve always prided myself on my innate curiosity and love of learning, and I’ve always pursued this in and out of an academic setting.
After leaving college, I continued to brush up on my French and Spanish during my free time, read tons of books and essays, and engage with the world around me, whether that meant travelling to new cities or visiting museums.
Even going to college for a brief period of time put me in debt, so it feels good to not carry the full financial burden that often comes with completing a degree.
Although I’m not totally debt-free from my stint in college just yet – I still owe about $US6,000 that I’m making monthly payments on – the truth is that if I’d continued with my program and finished my degree, I would likely owe about ten times that amount of money, which is mind-boggling.
Admittedly, I did attend a private university as an out-of-state student, which is not exactly the most affordable option. That said, my heart was set on the school, and I don’t regret spending a year (and a few thousand dollars) there.
It’s a shame that I didn’t get the full college experience, but I’m certainly relieved that I won’t carry the full financial burden of student loans with me for most of my life.
Read More: 7 countries where higher education is free
Even though I don’t regret my choice to leave college, it did help me realise that the educational system in the US is broken.
No one should have to choose between working to support themselves and getting an education the way I did.
Are there people who are able to do both successfully? Absolutely. Did I feel capable of being one of them? Unfortunately, no.
At the end of the day, I’m just one of the millions of people from low-income, single-parent backgrounds who often have to make this tough decision.
To me, the fact that so many people are put in this difficult position and that higher education is seen as more of a privilege than a right shows how broken the education system is in the US.
I don’t regret not getting a college degree, but I really hope the education system improves for those who have their hearts set on getting one.
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