submitted 2 months ago by thynecaptain to c/nostupidquestions

Hey Folks, I've been in college for six years now and have dropped classes left and right. I had been consistent in the beginning and, of course, Covid had caused a bit of problems with consistency. Since that time, my grades slipped. I've dropped classes as well. I should have graduated two years ago however i've been working to survive since. I've got roughly 40k in student loan debt. each time I try and take classes again, I manage to for about two weeks and then after i have some random event in life come in and just ruin my motivation. (death, sickness, major change in lifestyle, etc.). I've been working in a career that was based upon my major and it is a decently comfortable and consistent job (IT), with some stress just due to the human interaction, however I do have issues with debt (working well to get out of but won't be completely out of non-student loan debt until 2025). I'd consider going back in about six or seven years depending on how life treats me, but is it worth cutting my losses, start paying back student loans, and focus on my job? If I do manage to take classes, i'll have about two years worth of classes to bust through but I'm not sure if I can push that much effort back out.

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[-] Contramuffin 32 points 2 months ago

My belief is that college is a means to an end. That is, you go in with an explicit goal of achieving so-and-so, and achieving it will directly help you achieve so-and-so after college. For instance, say you want to be a doctor, and to be a doctor you need a degree. Or you want to become an engineer, and to be an engineer you need a degree. These are valid reasons to go to college.

I find that a lot of students go to college because they think they need to go to college. Or because they think it gets them a higher paying job, but they don't know which job it is that they want, just that it'll be a high paying job. Or because they want the degree for the bragging rights. Or to satisfy their parents. I interpret these goals as stemming from the belief that finishing college is the ultimate goal, and that as long as you finish college, you're guaranteed a satisfying life.

Having these kinds of goals, I think, aren't going to get you to make the most of college, and frankly, I believe that having these sorts of goals are fundamentally misaligned with what the college experience offers students.

I don't know what your situation is like, but I believe that the solution to your question lies in answering this more fundamental question: why are you going to college? And is your reason because you plan to use college as a stepping stone for a more ultimate goal?

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

100% agree - college is only legitimately useful if the career you want to do requires or hugely benefits from a degree, or if you somehow do some crazy networking to get into a position thanks to a corporate person getting you in. For IT it’s arguable if you even need a degree or not outside of specialized fields, but I would liken getting a degree in some IT-related field to getting a cert: great to have on a resume, but experience and attitude will always beat it out.

If you’re in the business of getting a non-STEM degree, honestly just look into going into a community college for a couple of years to learn how to socialize and maybe get a taste for higher ed stuff (this benefits anyone and everyone). After that, if you’re not gonna go for a STEM career, I would consider dropping out and focusing on work experience.

EDIT: Should clarify, this is strictly for the US. To all fellows across the pond: yes, it is that bad.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 2 months ago

This take is super depressing, but like I said elsewhere, maybe it makes sense in the US. And that sucks, to be clear.

For what it's worth, I spent maybe a decade in university, bounced around a couple of things before I got my actual degree. I did not do a STEM degree, I still got a lot out of it in both soft and hard skills. Also in relationships, experience and general ability to approach situations and extract information from the world. Frankly, if your time in higher education has to be driven by a securing a specific job or goal then you're in a broken higher education system. If it leaves you in crippling debt you're also in a broken system, but I'm pretty sure you guys know that already.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Unfortunately, the US lives with both broken education and financial systems where the latter system has turned the former (and many other institutions that should have been public services) into a for-profit institution where the main goal is to push out as many students as possible (regardless of the quality of the education) to get as much money possible, student debts be damned.

This bit by the late and great comedian George Carlin encapsulates how bad it’s been in the US for at least the past 30+ years when it comes to this kind of stuff.

[-] Contramuffin 1 points 2 months ago

I appreciate your thoughts. From a purely ideological perspective, I do agree with you. I believe that educating as many people as possible is ultimately beneficial to society. I see that someone else has already brought up the logistical nightmare that is academia in the US, so I won't discuss that.

As someone who is in academia, I'm granted a perspective that I think few other people are able to see. And while it is true that logistics is a valid reason for discouraging academia in the US, I'm more intrigued by the fact that so many students seem not to put any thought into their life after college. That is why I bring up in my original comment that college is a means to an end. I'm not necessarily even implying that going to college needs to be for a job. But so many of the students I meet have never even thought about what it is they're getting from college and how it benefits their life. These students don't seem to know why it is that they're going to college, other than maybe the vague promise that it gets them money or that it's merely expected of them. In my perspective, these students are here merely for the grade, not for the actual learning.

If you believe that having a particular skill (hard or soft) is beneficial for your life, and you believe that college is a reasonable way to gain that skill, then I think that's a valid reason to get higher education. I just don't want students who drift aimlessly through college and later realize that they wasted 4 years of their time and money and gained nothing for it.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

But I stumbled upon those, I didn't plan on acquiring them.

That's why college kids don't plan on what to make of their lives after college. They're kids! If they knew, they wouldn't need to be there. It took me a degree and a half, a number of failed creative projects and taking a job out of necessity to end up back in a completely different, adjacent career, eventually in multiple different countries. I could have predicted none of that when I started my first degree. For one, I didn't know what I didn't know, that was the entire point of university. For another, I didn't know half of the options I ended up taking even existed or were available to me. Many weren't, in fact, until a particular set of circumstances lined up.

But I'm sure glad that in the meantime I learned crucial things that made me more capable of taking advantage of those circumstances when they came by.

There's this girl I remember from that time. I was a bit older than my classmates, owing to that whole changing tracks thing, so a few gave me more credit than I deserved in some areas. This girl once walks up to me and asks me if I'll read some stuff she wrote. I didn't know how to say no, so I said yes. And it was terrible. No style, no flow, no command of language. It's a high school essay at best, corny and florid in all the wrong ways. I weaseled my way out of giving her feedback and mentally discounted her as a writer.

She's now a professional journalist involved in many high profile activist movements. I've read her stuff. It's great. Turns out the reason she was bad at it back then is she was twenty and had many years of getting good at that crap ahead of her. That's fine. It's fine to figure yourself out and learn to do things as an adult. That's supposed to be the point of higher education when it's universally accessible.

Anyway, I don't think you're wrong, for the record. I think you're right in your context. If public university wasn't basically free around here that would have been a very expensive approach to learning creative writing and figuring yourself out. At most all I'm contributing is I'm glad we do it that way over here. I spent ten years, give or take, doing that stuff and I spent between sixty and six hundred bucks a year doing it. And that's because I didn't qualify for any grants or government student aid. For some of my classmates it was free, or they even got some help for books and housing. I go to vote every time (and pay taxes) thinking that contributing to keeping that up is the most important thing I do in life.

[-] garretble 22 points 2 months ago

If you do drop, just know that it’s often a lot harder to get the motivation to go back if you need to.

In ten years, if you are 35 or so, no matter where you are in life it’ll be harder to go back.

I’m not saying the answer here is to stay in school if you are burned out. But just realize that it will be harder to get that motivation later on in life.

[-] negativeyoda 21 points 2 months ago

I think you answered your own question.

If you're burnt out, grinding it through 2 more years and amassing 2 more years of debt doesn't sound worth it to me... especially if you're already working in your field

[-] [email protected] 12 points 2 months ago

Sounds to me like you had a good reason to stop once, and then you gave up for some not as good reasons. It doesn't seem like it's a priority to you, so cut the cord yo. Not everyone goes to college.

That being said, not finishing is likely to fuck you twice: once in the money you've already lit on fire and once on the degree you didn't get.

But it's not the end of the world.

[-] nowwhatnapster 9 points 2 months ago

Just understand if you want to get places in IT your going to have to climb the ladder, keep sharp on technologies, and make connections. It's doable, but it takes effort. After a decade of cutting your teeth, your schooling should be largely irrelevant on your resume. This is my career path and I keep pace with my colleagues who all have degrees.

[-] MacedWindow 8 points 2 months ago

Focus on the job and paying down your debts and let the version of yourself in 5-10 years make the decision about going back.

[-] RyruGrr 7 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

I should've dropped when I stopped caring. Got academic dismissal instead. Years later, I was tired of bs jobs, and I was ready to get serious. I went back to school part-time and earned my 4-year degree in a grand total of 12 years. Hardest thing I've ever done, but I don't have to bear that sense of failure anymore.

When you're ready to make that push, you'll know. Your journey is unique.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 2 months ago

I’m just a rando on the internet who didn’t drop out, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Since you mentioned you have an IT job - based on my experience, a degree becomes irrelevant in job interviews the longer you’ve worked and knowledge/experience become more important. I personally don’t care where/if a person graduated when interviewing people that have working experience for several years already. However, a degree does get you on top of the pile for HR and some hiring managers who care more about what’s on paper vs actual skills. So you need to take that into account for future career moves if you decide to leave your current IT job and not finish your degree.

[-] dual_sport_dork 2 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Experience is still leverageable and in certain fields is king. A significant portion of my job is IT and also web development. I make a decent living. I dropped out of college after one semester and never looked back -- a decision I regret less and less with every passing year.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

As someone who does IT interviews, the degree (any bachelors degree) is what gets you to my interview, unless you’ve got a really good portfolio and a decade of experience.

At that point, the only things I care about are: what do you know, how well do you communicate/work with others, how do you learn and what motivates you. The degree just shows that you have demonstrated critical thinking skills and the persistence to work the system.

If you can do that without the degree… well, you can try wrapping up the courses you’ve got into a certificate or five (often the courses taken can count towards multiple certifications) and then focus on what you actually want to do.

[-] calypsopub 6 points 2 months ago

My son dropped out for a couple of years after his father died and he was failing everything due to depression. He worked a delivery job and paid off loans, then went back and finished. It was easier when he went back -- two years of maturity and working for a living made a big difference. I think if you focus on paying off your debts and saving, you will find in a few years that you are motivated and ready for success.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 2 months ago

I could risk a suggestion, but you seem like you are in the US and frankly what you describe does not line up with my experience of higher education pretty much at all, so I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be useful.

I'll just say that that seems like it sucks, it's not what higher education should be about and you guys should probably get around to fixing it at one point or another.

[-] surewhynotlem 4 points 2 months ago

The only thing I can say is that many large IT organizations require a degree. Not for any good reason, but it's a thing you may have to contend with.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago

Only in certain sectors, like healthcare. It doesn't matter that healthcare has many/most of the same IT needs/jobs as the rest, the healthcare industry has a mindset that degrees are important.

But even in those, experience is still king.

[-] mydinolife7 4 points 2 months ago

I would say if you are struggling to just let it go and revisit school when you are ready. I have had the same issues and it was never worth it to continue until I was in the right headspace for it. I still have no degree and wish I didn’t force my self to attended classes. I have a decent job not where I want to be, in IT as well but POS side. Experience has gotten me farther than the classroom. Are you sure finishing will be financially beneficial?

[-] [email protected] 4 points 2 months ago

It might be worth seeking out a psychologist to help you work through these set backs and address the root causes of your grief and think through the ramifications of these actions. It may be possible to develop an education plan that conforms to your unique circumstances, allowing you to graduate. At my school we called those pink slips (a pink document that you gave to each professor detailing how to adjust their training to better suit you that the school has agreed too). Work out an alternative education plan to help you succeed as it isn't a black and white system, schools work out alternative plans all the time with many students. Remember, that you're not a bother the school wants you to succeed. Even from a non-humanities angle it helps with their metrics too.

There is no shame in seeking out professional help or helping yourself protect your hefty investment. Any thoughts that contradict this thought should be incredulously examined for merit.

It's also important to note, that each school may have a different way of handling your departure. Some schools let you keep your credits for a limited time to apply to you coming back. Generally speaking, once someone has left the school system life has a way of keeping you locked into your current responsibilities and its a real possibility you won't come back. This is especially true if your only experience was negative and you have only debt to show for it. It'll be really challenging to convince oneself it'll work next time.

Ultimately, this isn't a question for the internet but for the professionals at your school and hopefully a medical professional and if you haven't evaluated these options earnestly I wouldn't say its okay to drop out just yet.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 2 months ago
  1. IT can be a good career without a degree, but it absolutely helps.
  2. Maintaining a full time job is far more demanding than college. If you can't stick it out in class, I'm concerned about sticking with the job too. No job and student loans is even more stressful.
  3. You probably won't go back, also classes expire if you aren't actively taking classes. Yes it's bullshit, but look into this before you decide.
  4. 40k debt isn't awful, but 2 more years without payments is going to really balloon that. If you try to finish, doing everything you can to finish faster would be better.
[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

Any recommendation or advice you will get here will only be from a very limited view, from what you shared, and impersonal, as we can't know many things about you, your personality, and your life and life circumstances.

You say you have a decent job, and you consider focusing on that. Which seems like a good and split idea to me.

You tried more than once to get back into it and finish it, but failed, so that doesn't seem viable. It'd at least need a break, but if you have the alternative, and good prospects in job etc, then I don't see why you should have to or would try to force what evidently doesn't work out at the moment.

Surely you got some things out of your studies already, and job experience counts just as much as studies. You have a job, and surely provide value there, so they depend on you to a degree. It's not like you'll be lost.

When it is "okay" to drop out is entirely subjective. As a broad answer to a broad question: it's always okay. Sometimes people notice it's not what they were looking for, or doesn't fit them. Unless there is reasons to follow through, it's better to cut losses and focus on something more fitting.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

If it was anything other than IT I'd say reconsider.

Keep working in IT, pay your loans. Take cheap online classes to finish up your degree at your convenience, but don't wait too long or your old credits will expire (or just be non transferrable). If you try to find a new job the degree might give you an edge over another applicant without one, and if you've already done most of the work/gotten the credits but then don't finish it then all the debt you've gained is truly for nothing.

[-] PunnyName 3 points 2 months ago

You can always try to take 1 class per semester. If that's not manageable, then you might need to refocus.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

People have covered most of the bases here. The hardest part is that if you don't go back soon, you will find that door is closed to you - at least to finish what you started, without having to start mostly over again. College can definitely be worthwhile, but whether it is worthwhile TO YOU is the issue. Also, once you get used to receiving a paycheck and not living on like Ramen... it is next to impossible to go back to being poor and spending every waking moment (and beyond) studying, especially for some undefinable end goal. But on the other hand, I've seen it done with like 15-year gaps in-between dropping out, joining the army/navy/whatever and then going back to finish up. Definitely think through all the angles here, b/c you don't want to do anything that you will regret later - including wasting more time chasing something that you don't really want to begin with.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

Don't plan on going back, that doesn't usually work out that way. Is your job good enough? A college degree should help you get a career, but if you already have one going then maybe you don't need a degree. Would your degree help your future career prospects? Why did you start the degree in the first place? Is that reason still relevant?

The commitment to stick with something is valuable in and of itself. Hard classes don't get easier, they teach perseverance and study skills.

If you are unable to stick with it and/or don't need the degree, go ahead and bolt.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

This is a tough decision that only you can make. I have been in and out of college since 2003 and still have a few classes til my bachelor. What worked for me once I was in the field I wanted was to cut back to one class at a time and just gradually churn through. Depending on your school/work/debt situation this may or may not be doable. What really matters is to step back and ask yourself why you are pursuing school, if continuing now will pay off in the future, and if pausing and returning is something you would actually do if you left now. Does your workplace offer assistance for education? That can be a great help if you want to slow down.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

I'll just give my point of view about college.

I had done about 1.5 years worth of college, repeating classes I had already done in highschool (compsci) and thinking I shouldn't have started in the first place.

After I had done finished the last semester (not well ofc since I didn't give a fuck about my grades) I decided to officially drop out and pursue my career full time and self learn everything and gain experience from working.

Can't say it was a bad decision looking back but I was also grateful to be taken in by a small development shop!

But hey now I can say I have worked for redacted on my resume and built out some of the most robust CI/CD pipelines that company has ever seen! Lol

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

Sounds to me like you had a good reason to take a break and then you

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago

It's ok to drop out of college when you and others realize you will already be more productive and learn more by going straight to work. So like Gabe Newell dropping out to join Microsoft, or Zuckerberg dropping out to build Facebook.

Otherwise it's more of a should never have attempted college.

Accepting you're in the latter camp there are some important questions. What was your major, how much of it did you complete, and what exactly is your current job.

Those are important to know to as they effect how far you can actually go without a degree.

Unfortunately CEO requires no degree, but head of IT does.

[-] janonymous 1 points 2 months ago
this post was submitted on 04 Dec 2023
46 points (96.0% liked)

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