What Is the Cost of Dropping Out of College?

Find out how much it would cost to drop out of college.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

December 21, 2015

What Is the Cost of Dropping Out of College?

College is hard – harder than some may think before they start. Most students aren’t quite prepared for the academic rigor. They also have a new roommate or two with whom to contend. Finally, there’s the very great task of trying to find their place on campus. It’s no wonder some students feel so overwhelmed that they quit college altogether. According to GoodCall.com, more than 31 million students have left college after starting in the past 20 years, and a third of those students chose to leave before the start of their sophomore year.

You may be feeling the same way – so should you leave school too? Before you concede, consider a few things:

The Cost to Dropout

Many students feel overburdened by the amount of debt they’re taking on in order to go to college, but what students may not realize or know is that they will have to pay back those student loans that have covered the months or years they have attended. Essentially, student loans don’t materialize after you’ve completed your degree. They accrue as you attend school. For instance, if you borrow $10,000 for your first year of school and then drop out, you still have to pay that money back. Only now, you have nothing to show for it.

Second, consider the cost over your entire lifetime. A Pew Research study shows that the median annual salary of a college graduate is $45,500, whereas someone who has only completed some college makes $30,000 on average. Unemployment rates are also higher for those students who have only attended some college rather than completed their bachelor’s degree.

Transfer to a Different School

Fortunately, getting a degree from an institution of higher learning isn’t all or nothing. You may not like the school you’re currently attending, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on college entirely. If you’re stressed about the cost of college, consider switching to a less expensive school. Community or junior colleges are always an option as well.

If your complaints about college are more about fit, start the college search over again and transfer to another school. While that sounds daunting, you know what you’re looking for now. Even better, you know what you’re not looking for as well.

Sticking It Out

As you consider the cost of dropping out of college, think about why you want to quit too. Whether you’re struggling to maintain decent grades or make friends, there are plenty of resources on campus to help you adjust. For instance, if you’re feeling left behind in your courses, ask the professor or teacher’s assistant to meet with you one-on-one. You could also seek out tutoring help on campus.

If your reasons for leaving have more to do with the social climate on campus, make attempts to get plugged in somewhere. College campuses offer all kinds of niche organizations and activities for students. That might mean getting involved in intramurals, volunteering as a mentor to kids in the community or joining a club.

Basically, give the college that you’re attending the “old college try.” Make every attempt on your part to work through whatever is driving you to quit. If after a few weeks, you still feel as if that college doesn’t offer enough to make you stay, then it’s time to contemplate moving on.

Unfortunately, you can’t return your student loans like you can a sweater. Whatever you’ve borrowed to pay for school up to the point that you quit, you have to pay back. So before you throw in the towel, take time to ponder whether leaving school is worth it in the long-run. If you decide to continue with college, don’t worry – there are plenty of resources and options at your disposal to transform college from an achievement you want to quit to one of the most unique, worthwhile experiences of your life.

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