How to Drop Out of College in the UK – Steps and Considerations

how to drop out of college

College is really an exciting experience, but hey, it’s not always textbooks and sunshine. Sometimes, life throws you a curveball, and you might start questioning if college is right for you right now. If you’re in this situation now, you might already be wondering how to drop out of college.

That’s actually okay – no, not dropping out, but actually having thoughts like that especially when you’re in situations like this. The thing is, choosing the right path after college is a really big decision, and it’s important to be honest with yourself.

So in this article, we will talk about dropping out of school, things you can do to feel better about this situation, and then the pros and cons of dropping out of college.

What happens if you drop out of college?

College isn’t always a perfect fit, and that’s okay. But what happens if you decide to leave? There are a few things that could happen and you should keep them in mind:

  • Credits: Any classes you pass might earn you college credits. You can sometimes transfer these to a different program later.
  • Finances: You might owe money back for loans or scholarships you took out. Talk to your college’s financial aid office to understand what happens next.
  • Future options: You might consider taking a break or enrolling in a different program that better suits your goals.

These things might seem like a lot, but they are actually not. It’s okay to drop out of college if you have checked and found that it is actually not the right fit for you. But before you decide that it is not, do read the next section of this article about why students drop out of college.

Also, read: I Failed University: What Happens if You Fail Your 3rd Year at University?

Why do people drop out of college?

Dropping out of college is a significant decision that individuals make for various reasons. While pursuing higher education benefits personal and professional development, sometimes dropping out might be considered a reasonable choice.

Some common reasons for dropping out of college include:

Financial Constraints

College tuition and associated costs can be substantial, and not all students have the financial resources to complete their education.

For some, dropping out might result from being unable to afford tuition, living expenses, or other educational costs.

Change in Career Goals

Sometimes, students realize that their chosen course of study does not align with their true career aspirations.

In such cases, they might leave college to pursue alternative paths, such as vocational training, apprenticeships, or self-directed learning that better suit their goals.

Also, read: How Many Apprenticeships Can You Do In The UK?

Personal or Family Circumstances

Unforeseen personal or family circumstances, such as health issues, family responsibilities, or emergencies, can cause leaving college to address these pressing matters.

Lack of Interest or Motivation

Some students might find that they are not engaged or motivated by their coursework, leading to poor academic performance and dissatisfaction with their college experience.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Individuals with innovative business ideas might choose to leave college to focus on their entrepreneurial pursuits, especially if they believe their business endeavors hold strong potential for success.

Mental Health and Well-being

Mental health challenges can significantly impact a student’s ability to thrive in a college environment. Some students might prioritize their mental well-being by taking a break or temporarily leaving college.

Desire for Practical Experience

Some careers value hands-on experience and practical skills over formal education. Individuals seeking professions in creative fields, trades, or specific industries might choose to gain knowledge directly rather than completing a traditional degree.

Pros and Cons of Dropping Out of College

Dropping out of college is a significant decision with potential advantages and disadvantages. Before making such a choice, it’s essential to thoroughly consider the pros and cons to ensure the decision aligns with your goals and circumstances.


  • Financial Relief: College education can be expensive, and dropping out can provide immediate relief by eliminating or reducing tuition and related costs.
  • Time-Saving: College programs can take several years to complete. By dropping out, you might save time, enter the workforce, or pursue alternative paths more quickly.
  • Pursue Passion: If you have a clear career path that doesn’t require a degree, leaving college allows you to focus on pursuing your passion or entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Avoiding Debt: Dropping out can help you avoid accumulating student loan debt, which can have a long-lasting impact on your financial well-being.
  • Gaining Practical Experience: Some industries value hands-on experience over formal education. Leaving college could allow you to gain real-world experience and practical skills in your chosen field.
  • Flexibility: Without the commitments of coursework and classes, you can explore various opportunities and tailor your learning experiences.


  • Limited Job Opportunities: Many employers require a college degree as a minimum qualification. Dropping out might limit your job options and earning potential, especially in certain fields.
  • Career Advancement: Some careers have a clear hierarchy, and without a degree, you might face limitations in terms of promotions and higher-level positions.
  • Earning Potential: On average, individuals with college degrees earn more over their lifetimes compared to those without degrees. Dropping out could impact your long-term earning potential.
  • Lack of Credentials: Some industries prioritize degrees as a signal of knowledge and commitment. Without a degree, you might face skepticism from potential employers or clients.
  • Networking Opportunities: The college provides opportunities to network with professors, classmates, and industry professionals, which can be valuable for future career endeavors.
  • Personal Fulfillment: College offers a structured learning environment, personal growth opportunities, and the chance to expand your horizons. Dropping out could mean missing out on these aspects.
  • Unfinished Goals: If you drop out without a clear plan, you might feel unfulfilled and uncertain about your future path.
  • Re-entry Challenges: If you decide to return to college later, you might face challenges related to credit transfer, outdated knowledge, and changes in educational requirements.

Also, read: Does The First Year Of University Count?

How to Drop Out of College

Dropping out of college is a significant decision that should be approached thoughtfully and strategically.

If you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons and determined that leaving college is the best choice, here’s a guide on how to do it smartly.

Reflect on Your Decision

Before taking any steps, reflect on your decision. Ensure that you have valid reasons for dropping out and that you have thoroughly considered the potential consequences and alternatives.

Consult with Advisors

Speak to academic advisors, mentors, and career counselors before finalizing your decision. Their insights can offer valuable perspectives and guidance that you might not have considered.

Plan Your Exit Strategy

Create a clear exit strategy that outlines your next steps after leaving college. Whether you’re pursuing a specific career, entrepreneurial endeavor, or further education through different avenues, having a plan will give you direction and purpose.

Handle Administrative Tasks

Contact your college’s registrar or academic office to understand the official process for withdrawing. Ensure you understand financial or academic implications, withdrawal deadlines, and procedures.

Wrap Up Academics

If possible, complete ongoing assignments, exams, or projects to avoid incomplete grades. This might also allow you to return in the future if circumstances change.

Explore Alternative Paths

Research and explore alternative paths that align with your goals. Whether it’s entering the workforce, pursuing vocational training, or starting a business, having a clear path forward will give you focus and direction.

Build a Support Network

As you navigate this transition, lean on your family, friends, mentors, and peers’ support network. They can provide emotional support and practical advice.

Continuously Learn and Adapt

Dropping out doesn’t mean you stop learning. Continuously educate yourself through online courses, workshops, self-study, or other means relevant to your chosen path.

Related: What Happens if You Fail a Module at University? See What To Do

How to find work after Dropping Out of College in the UK

Finding work after dropping out of college in the UK requires a strategic approach and a combination of factors to increase your chances of success.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the job search process:

Pursue other training opportunities

Successful people don’t stop learning when they leave college, whether they have a degree or not. The lecture-based learning environment at college may not have been to your liking, but there are many different routes to reach your educational goals.

Vocational training, formal apprenticeships, and industry-specific certifications are valuable ways to achieve qualifications. You could also take advantage of the training available from free online courses to expand your knowledge and augment your skills.

After all, employers appreciate workers committed to lifelong learning and professional development.

Update your CV/Resume

Craft a well-structured CV that highlights your relevant skills, experiences, and any work you’ve done during your time in college. Emphasize transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management.

Apprenticeships and Internships

Consider applying for apprenticeships or internships that offer practical experience. These opportunities can help you gain skills, network, and potentially secure a full-time position later.

Volunteer Work or Freelancing

Offer your skills on a volunteer basis or take up freelance projects related to your field. This can help you build a portfolio and gain valuable experience.

See: Does Volunteering Work Count As Employment?

Stay Open-Minded

Be open to exploring roles and industries that you might not have considered initially. Sometimes, unexpected opportunities can lead to fulfilling careers.

Alternative Considerations for Dropping Out of College

Before deciding to drop out of college, it’s important to explore alternative options that can help you achieve your goals while still maintaining the benefits of education.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Change Major or Course

If you’re unhappy with your current major or course of study, consider exploring other options within your college or university. Changing your major might provide a more suitable academic path without completely abandoning your education.

See: How to Change University Course After Getting Admission

Part-Time Study

If the pressure of full-time studies is overwhelming, you might consider switching to part-time enrollment. This allows you to balance education with other commitments and gives you more time to explore other interests or work opportunities.

Online Learning

Consider enrolling in online courses or programs. Online education offers flexibility and a chance to develop new skills or explore different subjects without leaving college entirely.

Vocational Training or Apprenticeships

If you’re interested in a specific trade or skill, vocational training or apprenticeships can provide hands-on experience and industry-specific knowledge without the traditional college route.

Jobs for College Dropouts

You don’t necessarily need a college education to enjoy satisfying work and a reliable income. Without a degree, you can work in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and administration jobs. However, you may need to complete short vocational training or get a specialized certification.

Here are some examples:

  • Dental assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Occupational therapy aide
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Accounting Clerk
  • Administrative assistant
  • Customer service representative
  • Welder
  • Carpenter

Also, see: 31+ Jobs you didn’t know existed


Is dropping out of college a good idea?

Dropping out of college can be a valid choice for some individuals, but it’s essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons based on your unique circumstances, goals, and alternatives.

Can I return to college after dropping out?

Yes, returning to college is often possible after dropping out, but the process can vary depending on the institution and program. You might need to reapply, and some credits might not transfer.

Can I still succeed without a college degree?

Yes, success is possible without a college degree. Many successful individuals have forged their paths through alternative means, such as vocational training, entrepreneurship, self-learning, and practical experience.

What resources are available to help me explore alternative paths?

Career counselors, mentors, online job platforms, vocational schools, workshops, networking events, and online learning platforms are valuable resources for exploring alternative paths.


The decision to drop out of college is complex, requiring thorough consideration of personal goals, circumstances, and alternatives.

While dropping out is a valid choice for some, exploring alternative paths, such as changing majors, seeking vocational training, or taking a gap year, can offer valuable opportunities.

Remember, each individual’s journey is unique, and informed decisions based on research and introspection will lead to a future aligned with aspirations and growth.



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