There’s a lot of social pressure to head to uni. Your school, your parents, your siblings and your friends all seem to have opinions about your studies. But they’re not the ones who actually have to go there and study and sit in exams and stay up all night writing essays. You are. So you’ve got to enjoy it, at least a little bit.

As much as the world of work and study is changing, ‘dropout‘ is still a dirty word. Not too many people will admit it (I told my parents I was deferring my degree when the reality was I wasn’t ever planning on going back), but sometimes, throwing in the towel isn’t a bad thing. It’s okay to decide to drop out, defer, change courses or switch to a different uni. It’s also totally okay to decide that you never want to head to uni (even if you’ve been planning to get a degree since Year 7).

Whether you’re a year deep into uni and questioning whether you can stick it out, or you’re fresh out of high school and not sure if you want to take the plunge, here are some ideas worth considering. It’s never too late to change your mind and look at other options.

1. Defer your offer

There’s no shame in graduating Year 12, putting in your preferences, waiting for your ATAR, getting an offer to study at your dream uni and deciding ‘nope’. Deferring your offer is always an option if you’re not sure you even want to head to uni just yet, or if you’re not 100% sold on what you want to study. It basically means you’ll put your offer on hold for six months to a year which gives you time to travel, or work or just get your shit together after high school. This is a good option if you think you want to head to uni but you need a break from studying after 13 years of schooling.

If you’re not sure about whether you want to head back to uni after you already have a year under your belt, you can always enrol and make note of the census date for your uni. This is the cut-off for when you can drop out of classes without financial and academic penalty. It’s not a long term decision (census usually pops up a couple of months into semester one) but it’ll buy you a bit of extra time while you work out whether you want to head back to study.

2. Change courses

Recently I met a girl who did a whole year of a law degree, then, when she was given the chance to do an elective, she chose a creative writing subject. It was only then that she realised that she didn’t want to do law at all and she was far more interested in creative writing. Your degree will probably give you a bit of room to pick electives, so use it to your advantage to figure out if you’re keen on a completely different subject. Sometimes, second thoughts are simply because you’re studying the wrong thing, so it’s worth looking at other subjects and courses that appeal to you.

If you’ve applied (and gotten into) a course that you’re not sure you want to study, it’s always an option to do a semester/year and then switch into another course. It’s easier to get into another course when you’re already enrolled at the uni than reapplying later down the track- especially if any of the classes you’re taking are the same. It’s worth sussing out what sort of enrolment and career help your uni has (each place has their own process) and using it to your advantage. Don’t think that just because you start studying something you need to stick it out until the end.

3. Take some time off

If you’re already a year into your degree, often ‘deferring’ isn’t an option. But, most places will let you take a bit of time off without having to stress about reapplying if you want to go back to studying later on. Have a look at your university’s policies and see how long you can have off from classes without un-enrolling. This is a good option if you’re burnt out, or want to take some time to travel or work. It’s literally like an extended holiday, that’ll (hopefully) help you tackle studying better when you head back to uni.

4. Drop some classes

There’s nothing wrong with deciding that a full time study load is too much work for you. Especially if you’re trying to balance a job, getting an internship or work placement, sport, hobbies, friends and family- studying full time can become too much. It’s always an option to study part time, spread your classes over summer school/semester three or do some units online. Often, even dropping one class can make a massive difference and, while it might take you a little longer to finish your degree, at least you’ll be able to make it to the end.

5. Ditch uni

Like I said, there’s no shame in deciding uni isn’t right for you. There’s plenty of other options out there for you, and uni is always an option later down the track if you change your mind again and decide you want a degree. The great thing about uni is it’s not going anywhere, so don’t think that just because you’re not studying right now, you’ll never be able to study at uni.

Go do a short course, find an apprenticeship, volunteer. Work in hospo and then jump to retail. Pull beers and serve customers. Get involved in your community and volunteer at the local dog shelter. Go travelling- get on a plane if you can afford it or knuckle down and save your pay cheques if you can’t. Get in the car and go on a road trip; adventures don’t have to be across countries to be eye-opening. And if you’ve done all that and decide you want to head back to studying? Go for it. And if not? That’s cool too.

Header image: lazygirl

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