How to find direction when you’ve dropped out of uni

March 27, 2017
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Dropping out of uni isn’t uncommon, yet it still has a stigma attached to it. Earlier this year, The Australian reported that around 15 per cent of first-year students drop out, with that number bumping up to a little over 20 per cent when course transfers are included. Long story short? It happens.

The last thing I’m going to do is try and convince someone to leave their degree, but it certainly isn’t the end of the world if you have. Take it from someone who knows: even though you’re probably bummed out right now, there’s a few things to take care of. Buck up, buckaroo – you’re in for a ride.

Figure out why you really dropped out

If you’ve just dropped out of uni, there’s got to be a reason why. For some of you this is a no-brainer: work was getting in the way, you decided to pursue a different career, or you’re going to follow your dream of playing Irish Speedfolk.

But for others, dropping out is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Are you taking care of your mental or physical health? Did you take on too much work? Have you been hitting the clubs too hard?

Whatever the reason, now is a good time to take stock of where you are at and what you need to do to move forward. Whether it’s revaluating how you spend your down time or checking in with a counsellor, it’s time to take care of yourself.

Update your resume

Let’s rip off the Band-Aid. Look, you might not know what you’re going to do next. Your biggest problem of the day might be whether it’s worth putting on pants or not. But unless you’ve got a job lined up, you better start looking.

Spend some time updating your resume. While it might be a bit discouraging to remove “currently studying” from your CV, try and think about how you can mention your experiences in a positive way. Were you part of any societies? Did you work on any major projects or win any awards?

Don’t broadcast to your potential employers that you’ve dropped out, but don’t hide that part of your life either. Oh, and put some pants on.

Plan your next move

By now you’ve got your head straight and polished your resume. It’s time to plan your next move. This can be daunting, especially if your drop out was sudden. You might have been dreaming of your degree for years, and now it’s something you’ve left behind.

But you know what? That’s OK! Ask yourself what kind of adventure you want to go on next, and figure out how to get there. Do some research, talk to some people and take what you’ve learnt into the next chapter.

Don’t put yourself down

I’m not saying to be proud of dropping out, but don’t be of it ashamed either. You went down one road, and decided it wasn’t for you. If anything, that makes you more focused and prepared for the next ride.

I dropped out of high school, and now I’m working on a PhD. Life has a funny way of taking us where we need to go.

Go get ‘em

By now, you’re a few steps ahead of where you were when you dropped out. You’ve sorted out some stuff and recharged the batteries, so let’s get out there.

Whether you’re hitting the industry, going back to school, or doing something totally different, you’re wiser and bolder than you were before. You’ve taken a few hits, now it’s time to get bulletproof.

Cameron Cooper

Cameron “Cooper” Edmond is a writer, musician and PhD candidate from Sydney. When he isn’t teaching game design at Macquarie University, he can generally be found covering Australia’s music scene.

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