University Not For Everyone, Part 6/8: I should have dropped out

I wish I were exaggerating when I say that finishing my degree is one of the worst decisions I have ever made. When I reflect on the choices I have made to switch programs twice and to change universities during my undergrad, I know that I should have just dropped out. After all, I still have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Trying to decide upon a career as you reach the end of high school is daunting. Not only must you choose courses that meet pertinent admission requirements, but those choices also determine the options you will have in university. Throughout an undergraduate degree, those options then help how easily you can move between programs and switching programs, which is common and sometimes necessary.

Switching programs was a positive thing for me. Taking my time allowed me to focus my interests and find value in my education. However, there is one glaring negative; the things I want to do in my life right now do not require a university degree. The skills I want to learn cannot be learned in a lecture hall. The experiences I want to have are not easily found while worrying about seemingly endless essays and exams.

When I left high school, I was drowning in ideas about what I wanted for my future. I was interested in so many things, had many different hobbies and I wanted to learn everything. Of course, all of my teachers, coaches, family and friends expected me to go to university. I, as well, expected that of myself. I went to university thinking that my interests would sort themselves out as I pursued a degree. This ended up being only partially true.

Throughout university, I learned what I didn’t want. I learned that some hobbies don’t develop into passions worth pursuing. I learned, halfway through my second year, that when still unsure of what to do, moving halfway across the country to study something else might not solve all of those problems. I learned that expectations of oneself change, especially when far from home.

I no longer find any value in receiving a degree in my early twenties. Moving away from home has me interested in learning about the environment, culture and people around me. I am interested in learning the skills I need to contribute to society as well as the skills that make life more meaningful. I would rather spend my time enriching communities of people who share my passions, instead of studying for an exam for a required course in which I have no interest.

Given my interests before university and the skills I have learned through moving away from home, I would have chosen a different program of study. I would have also chosen to start university once I felt prepared to maintain the focus needed to complete a program, because it is difficult to stay focused on something that you do not care about.

Dropping out of university would have allowed me more room for spontaneity in decision-making. It would have helped me accept more change in myself, and allowed for my experiences to have a more prominent influence over my interests and values. I would have found more value in pursuing a degree once equipped with my own experiences of the world, instead of the misconception that my life would fall into place as I studied. I would have committed more time and energy to exploring my interests and building relationships with the people I truly care about. Instead, I spent far too much time stressing about essays and exams that feel irrelevant to my future and are soon to be forgotten.