Why students fail college: a personal story - Ali in Bloom

Why students fail college: In my opinion, if you don’t know who you are or what you want, there’s no way you can succeed in your endeavors. Many people drop out of college due to financial situations and unexpected life events. However, a large portion of students drop out simply because they aren’t prepared for college. I know I wasn’t at 18.

Here’s the thing, schooling looks very different for each of us. If you are dedicated to receiving your education, it’s worth taking some extra time to think it over. That might mean going to school right after high school or it might not. There’s no “cookie cutter” way to earn a degree. Here is what you need to know before you sign up for classes.

Why Students Fail College

They Need a “Why”

If you’re thinking about going back to college, I encourage you to take some time and think about why you want to further your education. In my case, I dropped out of college — twice. Now, almost ten years later, I’m going back to school to get my bachelor’s degree. I wasn’t going to school for reasons that aligned with my true desires at the time. I felt like I should go, not that I wanted to. So, for me, I was setting myself up for failure.

What I mean to say is that I wasn’t ready to learn. Going to college felt routine to me. I felt pressure from my family to get a degree so I could make more money, but I was already making okay money (for an 18-year-old). As such, I had no real reason to further my schooling, and I didn’t take it seriously. The reason I know that I will be successful this time around is because I am dedicated to learning. I want to better myself and (hopefully) achieve great personal growth through my studies. College is a lot of work, and if I know myself at all, I know that I have to want to read the material and do the work in order to graduate on time. If I’m not truly ready to become engaged with the material, I’m bound to fail.

They Weren’t Passionate About Their Major

I mentioned that I felt pressure to make more money and this is true. However, as I said, almost ten years later, I’m realizing that my financial future is not secure as is. Although my degree is something that I am passionate about, I think it is important to decide if your chosen field will provide you with the level of financial security that you want. There is a fine line between choosing a degree that will only get you money and choosing a degree that may only bring you intellectual satisfaction. There is value in both, so I think it’s essential to consider both areas and not only focus on just one.

This time, I chose a degree that better fits my interests and career aspirations — English. I am a writer, I love to read, and I foresee myself having a job in a related field for the rest of my life. It really did take me about 10 years to come to this conclusion, and it wasn’t easy. When I originally started school, I chose graphic design as a degree path, which I wasn’t really interested in. I eventually got overwhelmed and dropped out because I really didn’t care about the subjects I was studying. I just thought that maybe I could make a lot of money as a graphic designer. Who knows if I truly will make an extravagant living out of my English degree. All I know is that I can make a comfortable career out of it — and that’s all that I care about.

They Weren’t Organized

 In order to make your schooling work for you, you’ve got to take time to work out your schedule. Having a set schedule for schoolwork will make all the difference when you’re stressing over assignments, quizzes and finals. This doesn’t mean that you have to set aside an eight-hour chunk of time each Saturday to cram in your schoolwork. In fact, I suggest that you do not do this. If you want to get the most of your lessons and remember them for the big test, study a little bit each night. I like to have my weekends free (whenever possible). So, I dedicate at least a couple of hours each day to studying, reading and doing assignments.

I’m going back to school part-time because I have a full-time job, so that means only two classes per semester for me. As such, I’m usually splitting up about 15-20 hours of studying per week between Monday through Friday. When you think of it in terms of hours, that adds up to only 3-4 hours of studying five days per week. If you prefer to study on the weekends also, you can cut that down to 1-2 hours of studying per night, which is really quite manageable!

Of course, this isn’t an exact science. Every student is different and you may study more or less than I do. Although, no matter your preferences, you have to stay organized. Organization will help you with time management, which will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. A weekly and monthly planner is a must! Find out which ways encourage you to stick to your schedule. I use a mixture of writing down my weekly tasks and scheduling them into my phone. I set daily reminders when I really need to get something done at a particular time and I like to take physical notes for later review. Try out some different things and you’ll undoubtedly find what works for you.

Some of us may know exactly what we want to study, but many others don’t and that’s okay. I really didn’t feel as if I knew myself when I was 18. It look me this long to find interests that I know will stay with me for a lifetime; something that I can truly be happy with as a career. I also had so little financial knowledge. When you’re that young, it’s hard to bring events like owning your own car, homeownership and even retirement into the forefront. Now that I have some of that experience under my belt, I feel confident enough to go back to school. This time around, I know that I’ll succeed.

Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She works with many diverse topics such as education, personal finance, and vegan living. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan.


Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She works with many diverse topics such as education, personal finance, and vegan living. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan.