So, What Really Happens When You Drop Out Of Uni?

Actual advice from a two-time uni dropout.

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Hi, I’m Albert, and I’m a two-time uni school drop-out. Cue the Grease singalongs.

Both times, I was facing constant hospital admissions due to a chronic illness. I was essentially given two options: face a never-ending degree, stopping and starting based on how well my health kept up that semester, or go the nuclear option and hit terminate.

I chose the latter. It was a huge risk. But it was also the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Your Parents Will Hate You

Let’s not sugar-coat anything here: unless you were nurtured by a pair of humans with souls gifted from the heavens, your parents will not be bang-hot on the idea of you dropping out of uni. I did it most recently three years ago, and I still received weekly phone calls from my mum about when I will re-apply to UAC.

Eventually, you learn to filter out the constant questions and suggestions that you’ve disappointed your family. But it is there. The silver lining is that when you do succeed you are more than free to call your parents and smugly tell them that you did without a degree behind you.

It Can Be Hard, At First

The first few months out of uni are the hardest. Suddenly getting out of the constant routine of uni life left me with a tonne of free time and not a clue on what to do. Aside from a casual call centre job, I practically built my life around playing videogames. It was not good.

The first few months out of uni are the hardest.

The key here is to find what you want to do with yourself that uni didn’t allow you to. For me, I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to be tied to a strict schedule.

So I started building a portfolio, networking, pitching, and (obviously) writing. And being able to do that from a hospital bed, or at 3am in your own bed, or any time that didn’t adhere to a timetable, was a godsend.

For you, this might be starting a business, or building an app, or travelling the world doing odd jobs, or learning something else entirely. What matters here is that the choice is yours.

You’ll Notice All The Other People Who Did The Same Thing

Sure, there’s the list of all the famous dropouts that’ve made bank. But really, neither you or I will be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. That said, when you do kick off your professional career, you’ll notice so many other people who, like you, left uni by the wayside.

In my travels I’ve encountered business people, news presenters, marketing experts, software developers, game designers, wedding planners, and yes, journalists. Loads of people in a tonne of industries make a living without a degree.

Your Career Will Go On

The biggest fear, at least for me, was that not having a degree would be a hinderance to my professional career. And while that may be true for a lot of professions – I wouldn’t trust a doctor without a degree – it’s hardly been the case for myself.

at the end of the day, the lecture halls of university will, for the most part, stay there for some time to come.

Frankly, in more industries than just “media”, the requirement that you have a degree is more of a suggestion. Most employers – albeit editors, producers, team leaders, et al – are looking for someone who understands their field and can bring something unique that adds value to what they already have. A uni degree can help with that, but it’s not the only way of getting there.

And at the end of the day, the lecture halls of university will, for the most part, stay there for some time to come. You can always go back.

Just don’t tell mum, the schadenfreude would kill her.

Albert Santos is a Sydney writer. You can find them on Twitter here.

(Lead image: Dear White People/Netflix)