Unfortunately, I’ve never dropped out before – so my advice on this topic is obviously very credible and 100% legitimate. Listening to “experts on these issues” is overrated anyway.
Yes, there are some who believe although I have never dropped out of school yet, there’s still a chance of it happening. I like these people. Then there are those who will read this and immediately comment or text me to strongly advise me against this option. I could do without these people right now. Just read the freaking blog post, would you?
Lots of people think I’m just an impractical anti-educationist. I don’t think that description quite hits the mark, though. Perhaps I am simply not a fan of formal, institutionalized education – or anti-academic. To imply that I hate knowledge, however, is to make an unfair and untrue judgment on what exactly it is that I stand for.
I stand for making the absolute best of oneself in the way that is most fruitful to them. For all, education is the way. For some, formal education is not the way. For others, institutionalized education is where they thrive. Who am I to tell you to abruptly leave a system that works so well for you?
So, from a person completely inexperienced with anything but the thought of dropping out, here is Akotowaa’s guide to dropping out.
1) When not to drop out.
Do not drop out of you’re lazy. I promise you if you aren’t capable of grinding in school, you’re probably not capable of grinding outside of it. I don’t know, but grinding out of it is probably way harder. Imagine how many times you would have to prove yourself without credentials. Leaving school is not the easy way out, and I will describe why soon.
2) Situations where people think you shouldn’t drop out – but they don’t actually matter.
If you’re doing well in school, it still is not a good enough indicator that you should be in school. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing what you have to do – when what you have to do can’t be done in classrooms or whatever. Academic aptitude – especially when you are an autodidact – might actually give you an advantage outside of school. Sometimes it is also a matter of implementing a groundbreaking idea before someone else does. That is in fact the reason why some of the greatest minds have dropped out – because they didn’t have time to waste in school before they patented their designs; before they brought their technology to the world first. It’s not always because they were flopping in school. Brilliance is often a factor for success.
When you have no idea what you’re going to do without school, when you have no definite plans and cannot adequately answer people when they ask, with scandalized expressions, “What are you going to do then?!” – that is also not enough reason to stay in school when you know you do not belong there. Here’s why: school can kill your brain and spirit when you can’t handle it. Any suppressive and prolonged situation can do that to you, be it your school, your marriage, your work, your country, whatever. Many times, what people really need is time and space to think. I highly doubt a person who is feeling frustrated and suffocated in a system would be entirely capable of making rational and detailed plans about the next stages of their lives. Sometimes, one may need to drop out in order to be clearheaded enough to know what they want to do after they drop out – even if that decision is to go back to school. It is normal to not know what you need, even as you know exactly what you do not need. It’s not an astronomically absurd idea. Sometimes you may just be doing school wrong; you have to drop out and start again, to figure out how to do school right.
“Other people don’t have the opportunities that you have…” This is one of those nonsense phrases that come in many different forms. Here’s the irony about life, okay? A lot of people need money so that they can afford to go to school. A lot of people need money so that they can be financially stable enough to drop out of school. A lot of people need money so that they can get out of the debt they got in for going to school in the first place. How can you win? Somebody not having something is not automatically equivalent to you needing it. Imagine someone somewhere does not have a Mercedes Benz because they can’t afford it. Does that mean by all means you should buy a Porsche? If in another part of the country, people are starving, it doesn’t mean you must by all means turn yourself into a glutton and continue to eat long after your body has stopped needing the food. They are completely disconnected things. Yes, formal education would drastically improve the life of someone who doesn’t have it. But if you have it and can tell that it isn’t working for you, it is irrational to hold yourself back for the guilt of someone else.
3) So when should you drop out?
When you can clearly see that school, or the school you are in, or the program you’re enrolled in, which you can’t easily change – is taking you absolutely nowhere, or not at all where you want to go, or not where you want to go fast enough, you may want to consider dropping out.
When you have a groundbreaking idea you need to implement immediately, before someone else does, patent it, own it, change the world with it first, you might want to consider dropping out.
If you are living in misery, and can barely find any motivation to wake up in the morning and go through the routine of your timetable – if these thoughts occasionally make you wonder what the point of life is, and consider ending it – I think you might need to drop the hell out of school.
If you know how your brain acquires knowledge, and the system you are in isn’t giving it to you in your ideal way – perhaps you would want to consider finding a more fruitful method. Here, let me give an example of my life. I can learn relatively fast if I am being taught one-on-one; when full attention is on me, I give my full attention, easily. Something changes when suddenly it’s not just me being taught – but a whole bunch of people at once – at the same pace, or in the same style, or in the same kind of language. I know that I’m more of an individual learner than one who learns with others, and this has cost me a lot, to keep going to classes for two hours and understanding nothing, only to have someone privately explain the same thing to me, which I understand in twenty minutes. I don’t like wasting my own time simply because it is “required” of me.
4) Now that you’ve dropped out, or have decided to drop out, how do you use your time?
This is the part where I explain why dropping out isn’t the easy way out.
When you’ve dropped out, you are going to have to work towards whatever it is you want to achieve – and that involves time. If, to complete your goals, you will need to acquire skills you otherwise could not have learnt in school, you’re either going to have to pay for tuition, or be an autodidact. Just like the way it is in school, you’re not going to just sit there and be achieving stellar things.
People think of dropping out in a way that implies more freedom than I think it actually entails. I think if you’re not spending money on school fees, there is definitely a lot of other stuff you would have to be spending money on instead. And this is something that you and your parents or whoever is in charge of your finances in tuition are going to have to make yourselves understand. And you are going to have to be prepared to spend at least as much time and money as you would have in the classroom, or on assignments, trying to achieve whatever you dropped out to achieve.
For example, if you dropped out of school to focus on becoming a musician, you’re about to invest in voice training lessons, teaching yourself scales and musical instrument, forming connections, paying for studio time, exercising, flexing your songwriting skills, learning improvisation, playing by ear – and you will be buying a lot of things; equipment, instruments, online tutorials. You are not free. Not if you’re serious about whatever you’re trying to do.
There should be a whole book on this stuff. There probably already is. But yeah. Though this is not exhaustive, feel free to re-examine your life now. ☺