I dropped out of college but went back again. Here is what happened.
It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.
It seems not so long ago when I was celebrating my acceptance into college in the year 2016. Everyone was happy for me, and I was committed to living my parent’s dream.
At college, I was overambitious, surrounded myself with smart friends, promptly attended lectures and did all that could put me in the top echelon. I remember saying to myself, ” I am taking it by storm!”
I dreamed big and couldn’t stop thinking of the future. As an African kid raised in a not-so-wealthy middle-class family, I had seen my parents struggle to make ends meet. They had worked so hard to educate us that I had to reciprocate by being diligent in my courses.
The first semester of college was pretty good, however, I was so concerned about a number of things; I felt some units were so irrelevant to my major.
It’s like you want to learn how to paint. Unfortunately, the whole curriculum dwells mainly around teaching brushes and its components, and the history of painting when, actually, you should be learning and practicing the art (painting).
I started to see little value in the course and its contents.
Regardless of the objective value of a course, if one cannot recognize its value, they may not be motivated to expend effort. However, if one is clearly able to visualize how coursework connects to their goals, interests, and concerns, they are more likely to value it, and thus more motivated to invest time and effort.
The whole curriculum changed my perspective about college. College wasn’t what I expected!
All the activities that I took part in outside classroom seemed to be more productive and fulfilling than the typical classroom learning. You could read from everyone’s faces that they were having fun and more jovial.
For instance, I participated in the Science Club and Language and Arts club. The general atmosphere and mood in these clubs and societies was something I could describe as idyllic, visionary and lively. In contrast, the classroom atmosphere and mood seemed tensed, gloomy and owlish.
Working on personal and group projects with the aim of solving a problem and coming up with a viable solution is thrilling. The experience and satisfaction you gain are priceless. Sadly, college does not encourage this.
College system is designed in such a way that students are made to believe what they are taught to believe, do what they are taught to do, follow what they are trained to follow… No deviation from the set procedures and no time to think for themselves.
“The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not what other generations have done” ___Jean Piaget.
Mastering formulas and concepts just to write them down in exams and thereafter forget everything was not going to help me in life. It was not the kind of learning I envisioned would take place in college. Nonetheless, I was wrong! In college, nobody cared whether you understood the concepts or not. All that is important is the marks.
College curriculum is so much theoretical that students hardly apply what they are taught in real life after graduation. They are forced to undergo another year or two of Industrial training to be employable.
Most of the practical lessons lack concrete objectives to help solve the current real-world problems.
The moment students graduate from college they should be able to launch and start up on their own. Sadly, that is not what happens, the majority fail to be absorbed in the already-flooded job market as others who may want to seek the path of self-employment hardly make it through.
“At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment.”__ Sebastian Thrun
When one can neither find employment nor create one after a four-year commitment in college, then we have to question if going through the system is really worthwhile.
Education is an investment of both time and money; therefore, it is an opportunity cost. Before investing an individual must evaluate the benefits he/she misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.
My story would be incomplete if I didn’t mention that I ended up dropping out at the end of the second semester of my freshman year.
I was always fascinated by web development, and so I wanted to learn as I build something along the way. Moreover, I enjoyed learning on my own at the library or inside my room than when attending lectures in the hall.
Putting all my effort on personal projects, online courses and finding clients, I never gave any attention to the college assignments and lectures that seemed irrelevant to me. As a result, I failed terribly in my finals. I don’t know why, but for a while, I couldn’t stop thinking that I’m too stupid to fail like that in front of everyone.
It is said that,
“Everyone is a genius… but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will forever think it’s stupid”
We have to find where that genius in us lies… but certainly can’t be found where there is no passion.
All I wanted was to do something I’m so passionate about and give it my all.
“Learning by doing” is a sure way to gain a skill. According to me, skill is more important than a degree. The thing here is knowing what you want and following the path that will lead you to attain it.
Dropping out of college is something that will be disapproved of by many. Even though there are several stories of drop-out success, the society is still rooted in the “papers and marks” system of education.
I would also not encourage anyone to drop out because it is not for everyone.
However, if you feel like you are stuck in college and you really want something different for yourself, be bold, weigh your options, plan and figure out what is best for you.
Dropping out gave me a chance to focus on personal growth and skill building. I had enough time to think about my ambitions and restrategized. I took up online courses and learned web development, attended meetups, consulted with successful entrepreneurs, met like-minded friends who had previously taken the same path as mine, built my network, apprenticed under experienced web developers and, mastered the art.
As I conclude, I’d like to say that it all comes down to knowing yourself and going for what you want. No one else will understand you better than yourself, and so you must take the lead in shaping your destiny.
In my next article, why I went back to college after dropping out for a year, find out what it feels like now to be in college in a foreign country.
This article was originally posted at sensethestyle.com