Simple Advice To Avoid Dropping Out Of College

Do you know what you want to study? Do you know what career you want to pursue? Are you 100% sure? Do you want to study? Or, do your parents urge you to study? All these questions are important for prospective students. I recommend following advice to find an answer to each one of these questions.

“Just taking risks for risk’s sake, that doesn’t do it for me. I’m willing to take risks that I think are worth it, and I’ve worked so hard to make sure that I survive.” – Chris Hadfield

By: Virtual EyeSeeCC BY 2.0

Unrealistic Expectations

Most students dropout because of unrealistic expectations. They start to study a subject they don’t really know. Or, they have an unrealistic picture of themselves. One of my friends, let’s call her Tina, began to study biology because her brother was also studying biology. She thought the subject was perfect for her. The subject overwhelmed her. In her 5th semester she went abroad. Everything was different in Italy. She felt alive again and enjoyed life. After her return, she dropped out of college. Today she works as a saleswoman in a hardware store. She is unhappy and she lost 2,5 years of her life.

Dropping Out Is Expensive.

Dropping out of college is expensive. You don’t get your money back when you drop out. Worse, you don’t get back the invested time and effort. Another of my friends, let’s call him Dennis, studied because his parents urged him to. They insisted that he studies medicine in the UK, like his father. After a year he realized that medicine wasn’t for him. He changed the discipline. Afterwards he studied scientific computing in Munich and was one the best graduates. Still, he tormented himself for a year before he realized what he wants to do. This realization cost him and his parents a lot.

Investment In Yourself

Return on Investment
By: Simon CunninghamCC BY 2.0

I think that studying is an investment in yourself and in your future. Thus, you should treat it like an investment. And, like any other investment it involves risk. It also involves great returns. So, our goal is to reduce risks and to maximize returns.

Simple Advice

In Poke the Box, Seth Godin argues that we need to poke the box to understand it:

“How do computer programmers learn their art? Is there a step-by-step process that guarantees you’ll get good?

All great programmers learn the same way. They poke the box. They code something and see what the computer does. They change it and see what the computer does. They repeat the process again and again until they figure out how the box works.

The box might be a computer or it might be a market or it might be a customer or it might be your boss. It’s a puzzle, one that can be solved in only one way—by poking.

When you do this , what happens? When you do that , what happens? The box reveals itself through your poking, and as you get better at it, you not only get smarter but also gain ownership. Ownership doesn’t have to be equity or even control. Ownership comes from understanding and from having the power to make things happen. ”

Poke the Box
By: Linus BohmanCC BY 2.0

Nobody can tell what subject is perfect for you. Neither can books. The only way to know what subject is perfect for you is by experiencing it.

Start studying before you paid a dime and before you committed to a whole semester. Find the lecture schedule for the subject you consider studying. Pick 2 lectures you find interesting and 2 you find hard. The next weeks visit those lectures. (Nobody controls who attends the lectures.) Arrive 15 minutes early and plan to stay 15 minutes afterwards. Use the time to speak and connect with the students.

Your impressions and the conversations with the students are the best feedback you will get.

4 lectures should be enough to make a decision. If you’re still uncertain, repeat the process with another subject.

I would also create a feedback loop around my visits and set smart goals. In this case, the goals would be questions I’d like to see answered. I would use the answers and feedback of the lectures to set goals for the next lecture.

Real experience and real data is better than any open-door day!

Had you visited lectures before you went to college/university? If so, please tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Deo volente,

Gaius Wolf


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