Why dropping out of university doesn’t make you a failure

Credit: Sebastian Mantel - Unsplash - The Growing Up Guide

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the dropout rate for university 1st years was at 6.2% in the UK in 2015. Whether you are one of a number of students who make up this number or someone who is considering dropping out of university, we want you to know that it really isn’t a bad thing and you are certainly NOT a failure.

There are a number of reasons that cause students to leave higher education, whether that’s health and well-being, finance, family, the choice of course, or just the fact that they do not enjoy the environment.

Whatever the reason there are options available to you and you can find ways to succeed at your goal.

I wish I had a post like this to read, of someone’s experience when they dropped out of uni. Someone to make the decision less lonely and intimidating, and to tell me whatever choice I made there are options and choices available.

You’re NOT alone

Initially, I think it’s really important to highlight that you are not the only one going through this. Whether you’re considering dropping out or have already left, you are one of an increasing number of students to make this choice.

As the number of students being streamlined into higher education increases, and with fees at an all time high, many of us are starting to wonder how we ended up at university and whether it really the right option after all.

At 18 the majority of us don’t know where we want our lives to go or what job we should be doing. You are not the only one feeling this, and it’s completely okay to be unsure.

Think about your choices carefully

Having got to university, and for whatever reason finding it isn’t working out, consider your choices.

Do you need more experience in the workplace to discover what area of work you want to go into before taking on a degree?

How far through your degree are you? Is it worth continuing to get that qualification if you are almost at the end, or is it worth quitting whilst you’re ahead and haven’t invested too much time into the course if you are only in your first year?

Each year you will get a leaving certificate or diploma, detailing the score (2.2, 2.1, or 1st) and the modules you have completed if you do complete the year. Just think, if you do manage to finish year one or two, this is a huge achievement in itself.

What are your options?

  • Work experience – Although it  might be unpaid work experience looks fantastic on your CV.
  • Change of subject -Just because you went to university to do one thing doesn’t mean that you can’t change. Many universities even have advice centres that can help you find the course that’s right for you.
  • Apprenticeship – There are some amazing opportunities to learn as you work, leading directly into your chosen career path and these go up to university level. YEP you can learn on the job, get a degree, and not wrack up the debt. The Gov.UK website has some really great information surrounding this option.
  • Full-time work – Or you can just jump in head first and start earning the pennies.

Don’t let others opinions define you

At the end of the day, this is your life and money. No one knows you and your capabilities better than you. Don’t let someone else’s opinion change your mind, or make you feel as though you are not good enough.

I am extremely lucky to have the most supportive group of people surrounding me, and I have found that since leaving university I’ve been able to achieve everything that I wanted. I’ve worked in a variety of environments giving me fundamental work experience that I couldn’t have gained at university, and I’ve discovered my passion for writing.

For me, I left due to health and do intend to complete my degree, but leaving has in no way lead to anyone thinking I am a failure-this really shocked me but there’s actually so much support out there!

Success takes time

Again remember that whatever field you want to go into, unless you are extremely lucky, success is going to take time.

Take every opportunity that comes your way. Apply, apply and apply again. Work out what you love, what you want to do and start at the bottom. Do little pieces here and there… it’s the small pieces of work that add up. Keep on working at your goal and although it may take longer without that degree, you will enjoy yourself as you work up and get so much valuable experience. So go and get it!

Measure success in happiness, not acquisitions

Finally, I want to remind you to measure success in happiness, not acquisitions. If you know you want to get somewhere you may have to do pieces of work here and there that you don’t enjoy but ultimately your end goal will keep you focused and happy.

Love what you do and you will never work a day again. So don’t worry if a degree isn’t the right path to your chosen career. Find another way, be happy, and do what’s best for you.

Some of the most successful people on the planet do not have a degree. It DOES NOT define you and certainly isn’t worth making yourself seriously unhappy for.

It’s a huge and brave decision choosing to leave university, so pat on the back to you for staying true to yourself, making that choice and being bold enough to know what you want.




  1. “It’s a huge and brave decision choosing to leave university, so pat on the back to you for staying true to yourself, making that choice and being bold enough to know what you want.” Very well said! A lot of people (including myself) are/were in school due to fear. It takes so much courage to ‘go against the grain.’ I wish I knew that sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment lovely! It’s so difficult to know what the right thing to do is sometimes! I always try and follow my heart and if I know something isn’t right then I try and get back on track but it’s definitely not easy! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

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