Updated : May 27, 2022 in Uncategorized

What Every College Dropout Should Know

I’m not saying you need your entire life figured out before pursuing higher education, mind you. Your college years will inevitably involve personal growth, especially if you’re jumping in straight out of high school.


What Every College Dropout Should Know

Listen… I’m totally in favor of people becoming more educated, developing wisdom, growing up, and participating in the privilege of higher education. I even participated myself for a while! I completed 96 credits of my 120-credit English degree, thank you very much. Of course, those 96 credits are hardly comforting when all I have to show for it is. a high school diploma.

I had some very specific reasons for leaving school, though. First off, I was going through a very intense time in my personal life. I had a lot to deal with emotionally and mentally, and I was breaking under the pressure of managing school on top of that. But secondly, after taking a hard look at my interests and the direction of my career, I realized… I already had the job I wanted. I didn’t need a bachelor’s degree to get in the door. And I was much more interested in pouring my time and energy into my work than I was in spending another few thousand dollars to finish up a degree I would never use.

My choice was a fairly controversial one. The term “college dropout” bears an unfortunate stigma, so friends and family tend to get skittish when you float the idea. And they have good reason to. The bachelor’s degree has kind of become the new high school diploma—a minimum barrier to entry into much of the workforce. The vast majority of employers expect you to have one.

But don’t think my choice to skip the degree means I’m handing you a Get Out of Jail Free card. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life or education. I just want to have a little chat about the realities of choosing a job over college.

Skipping college is a legitimate option.

Let’s just get one thing cleared up right away: jumping straight into the workforce after high school isn’t a bad idea in and of itself. I realize that going to college is the assumed next step for most of us, but it’s still a choice. Choosing not to doesn’t make you stupid, lazy, or unwise. There are a lot of reasons skipping might be the best choice for you.

After all, graduating college isn’t the only way to start a career. Over 60% of U.S. jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree. And a lot of those pay really well! If you’re interested in pursuing one of these fields, why spend time and energy earning a credential you don’t need?

Maybe you’re still interested in going because you want “the college experience.” I’ll give you that. Going to college does offer a lot of experience, not just within the classroom, but outside of it too. You get to live on your own, interact with people from other backgrounds, make choices (and mistakes) that teach you about yourself, the world, and life. But college isn’t the only way to get that experience.

Getting a job, meeting new people, serving, traveling, volunteering, getting married and having kids, taking up hobbies, starting a business—these are all great ways to engage in the myriad of non-scholastic opportunities life has to offer. None of them will earn you a credential, but they will make you more educated, wiser, and (hopefully) a better person.

And that’s great because, frankly, college just isn’t for everyone. Formal education is an amazing privilege, but not every learner thrives in the classroom environment. Plenty of students have difficulty fitting in with the structure of academic study. And for some people, that struggle is enough to snuff out their spark for learning. These folks often end up dropping out simply for the freedom of learning without a syllabus. 🙋🏻‍♀️

I’m not telling you any of this in order to discourage you from earning a bachelor’s degree. As I’ve mentioned already, I think college is a fantastic option for a great many people, especially those hoping to work in white-collar industries. I’m just saying that attending college shouldn’t be assumed.

Switching into a different course

In some circumstances, your university may allow you to transfer into a different course if your current one isn’t working for you. The more similarities between your current course and the one you want to switch to, the more likely it is that your university will approve it. It’s also better to look into this as early in the year as possible, because there may be a cut-off date, and certain fees may apply. Speak to a student advisor in your university to discuss how to switch into a different course.

If you decide to leave but think you may want to come back to college at a later point, it’s important to think about the costs that could be involved. Depending on how early you decide to switch, you could be entitled to free fees in the first year of your new course, or you may need to pay half of the fees or full fees (usually around €4,000-5,000) if you transfer too late in the year, in addition to the €3,000 student contribution charge.

What is the cut off date for free fees when leaving college?

Usually, if you leave before the end of October, you will still be entitled to free fees. If you leave before January, you will have to pay half fees, and if you leave after January, you’ll have to pay full fees. This can sometimes vary from college to college. In order to find out what potential fees you could face and what the cut off date is for free fees, speak to the registration office at your university.

How does leaving college affect my grant from SUSI?

If you are receiving a grant, deciding to leave could affect your grant entitlements. It’s important to get in touch with SUSI and find out if there are any implications by deciding to leave your course. Generally, you are not eligible for a grant if you are repeating a year or going into the first year of a new course. However, sometimes there are certain circumstances where you may get a “second chance” at receiving the grant. The best way to know how leaving could affect your grant entitlement is to contact SUSI.

What to do after dropping out of college

It’s a good idea to think about what you’ll do after you leave college. Without a plan, you might find yourself sitting at home wondering if you’ve made a mistake. It’s better to get out there and keep busy while you find a new path.


Leaving college could be an opportunity to start working so that you can gain experience and save money. Starting work can also help you decide what it is you want to do. For advice on finding a job, doing interviews, and starting work, visit our employment section.

Doing a PLC

A PLC can be a great way to get practical experience, gain a qualification, and build up your skills. PLC courses tend to be targeted towards specific jobs. About half of your time on the course is spent on knowledge and training directly related to employment, meaning there’s less pressure on students to complete assignments and exams, If you decide you want to go back to college, your PLC could allow you to move into a Level 8 course. Learn more about PLCs here.

Apprenticeship or traineeship

An apprenticeship is another option if you want to start work but you’re interested in a job that requires training. An apprentice is a person who is studying a particular craft from someone who has been working in the field for a while. It gives the apprentice an opportunity to combine education with hands-on experience in the area that they want to work in. Common apprenticeships include construction, electrical, engineering, hospitality or cooking, mechanics, or IT. Learn more about apprenticeship here.

A traineeship combines learning in an education setting and combining that with on-the-job experience in the workplace and covers areas like care hospitality, business retail, fashion and beauty, and finance. Learn more about traineeship here.

Re-applying to the CAO

If you’ve decided to leave your current course to start a new one the following year, you may need to re-apply to the CAO. If you decide to go this route, you will need to fill out the CAO at the same time as all of the other student applying to college that year. Take a look at Level 5, 6, 7 and 8 courses when looking for something new to study. Learn more about how to choose a college course here.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.