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i am a college drop out

“I’m not in school anymore,” I stated boldly to the woman. she asked me what I was studying at the university i had left a couple months prior. “oh,” she looked surprised, baffled even.  “why not?”

I went on to tell her what i tell everyone- how I really did not enjoy college, the whole atmosphere of it. how it wasn’t for me, how I didn’t know what I wanted to study & felt like I was wasting money. I told her how I went to a university in the first place because I felt like I had to, not because I actually wanted to. 

“oh, honey,” she awkwardly smiled. i laughed and thought to myself “yup, she thinks I’m an idiot.”

I am a quitter. a college drop out. I won’t get a degree. my highest education will be my high school diploma.

flashback to my freshman year at the University of Kansas. I joined a sorority, lived in the dorms, did the whole freshman thing. I was so unhappy right off the bat, that I literally went home the weekend before school even started.

i hated it. the partying. the endless amounts of alcohol and sex that almost everyone except me was partaking in. i was confused and felt conflicted 99% of the time. we are here to get an education, right..? why didn’t it seem like that? i immediately felt like attending this school was a waste of my time.

from then on, I seriously contemplated dropping out every single semester. but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had to go to college. this is what you did at my age. it made me worth something. 

I told people my desire to quit. they told me “oh, but emma you really need that piece of paper,” “jobs won’t hire you,” “you really should finish…”

so, in the meantime-i bought in to that whole outlook and i stayed. i changed my major 3 times in 2 years, trying to come up with some degree that i had at least a little bit of interest in. i tried my hardest and got really good grades. all so i could be worth something. and i cried. a lot.

shortly, my plan to stay came to a screeching halt when i realized how absolutely miserable i was. i’m getting this degree because i feel like i have to. because society tells me that i should. because i don’t believe in myself and that i can be successful without a degree.  

i couldn’t bear finishing another semester at college. i had to get out. so i did just that-i quit. my sophomore year was my last.

i’m happy, as a 20 year old woman not in school.

i smile to myself when someone asks me about what I’m doing these days, just waiting for the same reaction from one person to the next. it reminds me that there is a certain mold of a twenty something that our society buys into. that our grandparents and parents buy into. that our friends buy into. and that i don’t have to fit in to it. and neither do you. 

i can be whoever i want to be. 

sure, people look down on me because i dropped out. and maybe a job will turn me away. and sometimes i feel stupid for doing it-like i can’t be worth something without that piece of paper. but this, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

college doesn’t define me. i am no less of a person now that i am out of school. and if a job or person can’t see that-their loss-not mine. 

being miserable so people would think highly of me was not, and never will be worth it.

i don’t think i will ever go back.

sweet freedom. from endless amounts of homework, finals, research papers, stress, classes that i slept through, frat parties that i felt pressured to go to, shots i felt pressured to take.

but most importantly, freedom from the person i thought that i had to be in order to be worth something.

I’m worth it.

college wasn’t.







8 thoughts on “i am a college drop out Leave a comment

  1. This was an awesome blog post Emma. I often think about all of the things I thought college would prepare me for that it didn’t. Your story reminds me of the one Steve Jobs tells in his biography about his college career. Also, you may be interested to hear the advice Malcolm Gladwell shared regarding college on the Tim Ferriss podcast. I pray you find a purpose that fits your nature and as you probably already know that doesn’t necessarily mean a job. I think you may have already taken a step in the right direction with this blog. I really enjoyed reading it this.
    You don’t know me, but I played ball with Dustin and Derek at LHS back in the 90’s .
    Best of luck in all you do.
    -Scott Dougherty


  2. I felt the exact same way when I was in college. While I did stick with it, I was a stay at home mom and never really used my degree for anything and really it makes no sense. I have a degree in English Lit and a minor in Business MGMT….what was I thinking???? Why didn’t someone at the college try to tell me that made no sense. Now I work in a school office making less money than my 18 y/o son who just started taking college classes. I no longer ask graduating kids where they are going to school, I say “what are your plans?” as I now realize that college isn’t for everyone and there are other ways to be successful in life and you can always come back to it down the road…if you are interested! Best of luck to you in whatever you decide to do!!


  3. I really enjoyed reading this. I am also someone who doesn’t follow the “normal” or “right” path, I dropped out of high school after my sophomore year but did wind up going to college (not university) for Fashion Merchandising! There are a ton of affordable and focused certificates and associates degrees out there if you ever do feel like going back. I see a lot of people who start at universities and wind up getting something entirely different at a community college after experiencing why university isn’t for them like you did. Reading this made me feel like I don’t HAVE to keep going for a bachelors degree. I kind of don’t want to, I am tired. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I loved college, but as an almost 40 year old still saddled with student loans I definitely have some regrets. Good on you for doing what was right for you. I like the “What are your plans?” question from the commenter above.


  5. I can relate in depth! I made it through a semester of college and did not go back. I am super grateful for the semester I attended as it was like holding a magnifying glass to my anxiety and old wounds giving me access to a whole new level of healing. Since then I started a successful company in Crested Butte with my husband and keep expanding along with the horizon. Life is good! I found you on Instagram through cb location. Really appreciate your photographs and self expression! Maybe well cross paths in the butte one day! Happy trails! x


  6. 1) you were meant for more than this Emma.

    This is the first time I have ever posted on a blog. I’ve observed that just because people put their life out on a blog, doesn’t mean they want to hear any real feedback in the comments section… unless of course it feeds thier already cemented opinion of their post. Want you to read it, I don’t expect you to have an opinion on it. In fact they rather you didn’t have one. But in this case, I feel compelled to share with you some thoughts for consideration. Your education IS important and it will be your loss when you miss out on a major opportunity because you decided no college was better than the Right college. A crisis of conscience is honorable if it was indeed the “Get Wasted and Hook-up” culture of today’s colleges that you detested- but that should have pushed you to do more, not less. You didn’t want to join them, but you also didn’t have the strength to fight them in the dignified way only a beautiful Christian woman can: as a beacon of light and hope amongst them. Perhaps you equally hated homework, finals, responsibility and discipline? Taking a break until you figure out what you want to study is a smart thing to do. Getting a quality education from a school that is unapologeticly Christian may be just what God is calling you to do. Check out Stubenville. I think you will like it. God bless you and protect you as you work things out through prayer. The more I learn in this life, the more I realize how little I know. But I KNOW without a doubt that the path to heaven is narrow, filled with obstacles, and that God calls us to carry our cross and follow him. Perhaps you have found yours for this part of your journey. Pick it up, and get moving— because you were meant for more than this Emma.


    • Hello,
      I don’t know who you are, but I appreciate your comment. I would also like to share a couple of things with you. the way you spoke in your comment is what has completely pushed me away from Christianity. Your words were shaming (I.e. using the word “should”) and not helpful. I don’t understand why Christians have to be so judgmental and entitled to always have an opinion on things- but I don’t want any part of it. Again, thanks for the input.


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