At some point, you thought a college degree was the answer to a bright future, but now you’re not so sure. The clock is ticking and you can’t stay forever at this crossroad, so you ask yourself, should you drop out of college?
Well, it’s a tough one to answer because it affects you on so many levels: your family, your income, and your time.
If you drop out now, you might want to return later, but you will have lost an opportunity. And If you drop out now, will you be making as much income as your college friends who do choose to graduate?
I can’t answer your question for you, but I can share my own experience with college, starting with the moment I shocked my family with my decision.
The Day I Dropped A Bomb
As you know, I dropped out of college. I came from a traditional Asian family, and as you may know, education is very important in Asian culture.
I remember when I was growing up my dad would say to me, “Hey son, I want you to be whatever you want to be. You can pursue your dreams and be whoever you want as long as you’re an accountant, doctor or lawyer. One of those three.”
If I wanted a different career, then I would be a disgrace to the family. It was traditional, Asian family kind of thinking. When I started working on all these businesses in high school, I realized what I wanted to do careerwise, but I waited until I started college before I finally told my mom.
One day I said, “I don’t want to go to college anymore. I know it’s not my dream. Getting a degree is not my goal. I want to be an entrepreneur.”
You should have seen the horror on her face. You would have thought I murdered somebody.
Then she said, “Okay, son, we’ll talk about it on Sunday.”
Her reaction was surprisingly calm because she was actually planning to drop a bomb on me, but I hadn’t known that at the time.
My decision to tell her I was dropping out hadn’t been easy. Back then, I was having so much conflict with my college professor because I was always challenging him with my questions. I wanted to know if he had started a business before and if he knew what it was like.
When I had started my first business, I was in high school. I already had a real life taste of business and wanted to learn from someone with actual experience too. I had conflicts with my professor over this, and of course, he hated me. He gave me bad grades so I dropped out of college.
Watch this video about whether you should stay in college.
The Dim Sum Ambush
Now what happened with my family was a different kind of conflict. My mom invited me to lunch the Sunday after I told her I was dropping out of college. I showed up at this Chinese restaurant for dim sum and sat around a big table with my mom and eight of our relatives and her friends.
I thought I was having lunch, but my mom really wanted them to convince me why I shouldn’t drop out of college. They spent four hours telling me why I needed a post secondary education and why I should have some kind of degree at minimum to fall back on if I couldn’t get a job.
For four hours, they tried to persuade me to change my mind. That day became what I called the Dim Sum Ambush. It was a kind of brainwashing while I tried to convince all nine of them why college for me was a bad idea.
By the end of the lunch, I had swayed one of my uncles to loan me some money to start on my next business venture. He was persuaded by the conviction I had. He said, “If there’s a kid who can make it, it’s Dan.”
My uncle loaned me about $10,000 which I lost in a month. It was bad timing. I didn’t know what I was doing and I lacked the necessary business experience. So if my uncle is reading this right now, I want to apologize for that.
So if you don’t want to go to university, my tip for you is: you should know why you want to drop out. I left because I was very clear about my path and I made a promise to my mom that if in five years, I wasn’t successful, I would go back to school and finish my studies.
I wanted my mom to see how hard I was working and how much sacrifice I was making for my business at the beginning of my career. My mom lived with me so she saw me working long hours in my room. I didn’t take a single day off for five years.
She saw how hard I was working so after a couple of years, she stopped bringing up college because she saw that I wasn’t using business as an excuse to drop out. She saw that it really was my goal. It wasn’t a distraction or escape.
So don’t become an entrepreneur to drop out of college or find some other excuse to drop out because you’re afraid of facing the world. Don’t leave because you’re afraid you’re not good enough for post secondary, or because you’re afraid you won’t survive it.
Clear Direction In Your Life
Don’t be afraid that you won’t be successful in the real world because it is getting tougher and tougher. If you’re honest with yourself, and you want to be an entrepreneur because you don’t want to follow the traditional path, then I encourage you to become one.
Don’t drop out because you are lazy. Do it because you have a clear direction in your life. Be ready to make sacrifices and do whatever it takes to get to your goal.
Don’t think that you’ll be successful because you see all these people having a great life on YouTube. It’s naive to think that. Social media can make anything look easy.
Reality is actually hard. Here are some numbers. More than 40 percent of college graduates take a job that doesn’t require a degree when they finish school. And more than 1 in 5 college grads still aren’t working a degree-demanding job a decade after leaving school.
The Harsh Reality
It doesn’t matter which path you choose. Whether you stay or drop out of post secondary, the road will still be full of challenges.
Even for those who graduate with a degree, these are some of the challenges they face:
- Persistent underemployment. If you don’t apply what you learn from college early on, your skills will atrophy. But if you get a job requiring college-level skills, you will have a higher chance of getting better jobs in the future.
- Degree inflation: when employers ask for college degrees for jobs that don’t require college-level skills.
Another challenge that college graduates face is success rate for finding a job.
What college experts have said is that success after college depends on the college program and what students do with their college investment. For example a report found that
- Some college programs prepare students for long term success better than others. They should weigh this outcome against the time and money they will invest.
- Programs can prepare students for success in the workplace and help them face challenges. However, some students do well at high levels while others don’t. For example, a student might do well when achieving their degree but will have trouble with job searches after graduation.
As you can see, every choice has its own challenges, whether you stay in college or decide to drop out.
Final Thoughts: Should You Go To College?
Your experience may be different than mine, but I’m sharing my own experience about why I dropped out. I hope it will give you some inspiration and insight.
Know what you’re getting yourself into and understand that when you choose your path there’s no going back. If you don’t go to college and you don’t make it in business, it might be too late by then to return and you will have wasted years of your life. It will be difficult to catch up.
If you choose to stay in college until you graduate, be prepared for the challenges ahead when you are looking to start your career.
Also know that if you’re going to jump into the deep end to achieve your goal, at least know that you could swim or you’re willing to do what it takes to swim and survive.
So to answer your question, “Should you drop out of college?”, the answer is it depends on you.
Would you drop out of college to become an entrepreneur? Comment below.