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Dropping out Junior year – How common?

TutuTaxiTutuTaxi Posts: 1,521Registered User Senior Member
edited September 2009 in Parents Forum
Is there something that happens sometime during second semester sophomore year that makes good students quit school?

Last night I heard about another to-be junior not returning to their college……..this makes the 5th student this Fall. All (3 girls and 2 boys), as far as I know, were not in academic or financial jeopardy. I don’t want to give too much info in order to protect their privacy.

One girl didn’t return to her OOS public. She is now attending a non-degree dental hygiene program. Last semester, despite loving the school, the city and her major EC activity, she was struggling to find a major that would give her decent job prospects without a graduate or professional degree.

Another didn’t return to OCU where she was receiving FA connected to her major. She failed to inform her family and friends that she wasn’t returning until days before school started.

One of the boys didn’t return to flag-ship public and is looking for a job and deciding what to do next. He may attend a local LAC next Fall.

I know kids drop out of college, but isn’t it usually during the first year?
Post edited by TutuTaxi on

Replies to: Dropping out Junior year – How common?

  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Posts: 3,264Registered User Senior Member
    Naw - I had one drop out Junior year. As he got into the classes for his major he discovered he really did not like it that much. Did not know what he wanted to do so he dropped out. Worked for several years and is back now with a purpose.

    I think the ones that fail do so more often in Freshman year. The ones that become disillusioned are later.
  • missemily516missemily516 Posts: 702Registered User Member
    I know a few people who dropped out of college at that time - my nephews gf had a full ride at a private school and dropped out after sophmore year because she realized that she didn't want the major that she had and her credits wouldn't transfer. She ended up at a community college and then transferred to a state college.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,083Registered User Senior Member
    I think some kids get disillusioned for several reasons...

    1) Maybe their major is harder than they thought it would be.

    2) Maybe they aren't "liking" their major once they started taking the harder courses

    3) Maybe they are tired of homework, studying, tests...

    4) Maybe they want to get away from an exboyfriend/girlfriend that they have to see on campus

    5) Maybe a prof has turned them off to their major

    There are all kinds of reasons kids quit
  • ingerpingerp Posts: 866Registered User Member
    Didn't even realize til I'd read several posts that this was me (150 years ago when I was an undergraduate). Got up to the point where I was taking a lot of courses in my newly-declared major and decided I hated it. Dropped out part-way through fall semester of third year, stayed out the rest of that year, returned to the same school the following fall with the major I finally figured out I should have been in all along.

    I didn't realize til many many years later how nervous my parents were during that time. Had visions of me never graduating from college, although honestly I never considered not returning. Guess I should have impressed that on them a little more stringently. . .
  • calmomcalmom Posts: 16,319Registered User Senior Member
    My son left his first college after his sophomore year. It was a matter of reality setting in and his sense that he didn't have a clue as to what he wanted to study or focus on. He talked about traveling to Tibet to find himself, instead got a job locally that he loved and where he was quickly promoted. When he returned to school later on, he had a clear idea of his career goals, which influenced his choice of major -- and he now has a job that really fits nicely on a career trajectory from that first post-dropout job.

    Most colleges require students to declare their major by the end of sophomore year, if not sooner. A kid may realize at that point that he has no idea of what he wants study, or that will not be able to opt for a desired major because he has not taken the necessary prerequisites during the first 2 years.

    In some colleges, for some majors, students may not be allowed into a major unless they have a minimal GPA; even if the student can continue in a desired major, by sophomore year they may realize that their GPA isn't strong enough for long-term goals for professional or graduate education.

    Sometimes its a matter of the money running out, or a more mature 20-year-old coming to terms that he is shouldering an untenable amount of debt to continue in school. By the end of sophomore year, whatever romanticized notions the student had about the "dream" college have morphed into jaded cynicism-- especially when the student starts thinking about how the education relates to future earning capacity. Or, perhaps the GPA is strong enough for the school requirements, but not quite high enough to keep a renewable merit scholarship that was an essential part of the financial aid package.
  • mom60mom60 Posts: 5,536Registered User Senior Member
    In our case she dropped out earlier. She found herself at a school she really did not want to be at. Studying a very specific major that she wasn't sure about. (the major was the only reason she had considered this school)
    Came home and got a job in the field she had been studying. Worked for 3 yrs in this field. She is still unsure about what she wants to study or where. This is a child who has a difficult time with transition and with making decisions and has high anxiety.
    In our case she is lucky that her grades were all A's. She recently started taking some CC classes. It is a bit of a letdown from where she see's herself but she is back to enjoying learning and being in school. She is anxious to get back to a 4 yr school but is extremely worried about making the wrong choice again.
  • TutuTaxiTutuTaxi Posts: 1,521Registered User Senior Member
    Sometimes its a matter of the money running out, or a more mature 20-year-old coming to terms that he is shouldering an untenable amount of debt to continue in school.
    This maybe the case for the girl who quit to attend a 2 year, non-degree dental hygiene program. Her parents are divorced with dad (about to marry an ex-stripper, 15 years his younger) refusing to pay more than his court ordered 4 years.
    Or, perhaps the GPA is strong enough for the school requirements, but not quite high enough to keep a renewable merit scholarship that was an essential part of the financial aid package.
    Yes, the girl who didn’t return to OCU had FA with very strict guidelines.

    I must admit that hearing about these 5 to-be juniors not returning to college is somewhat upsetting to a mother of a current sophomore.
  • calmomcalmom Posts: 16,319Registered User Senior Member
    I must admit that hearing about these 5 to-be juniors not returning to college is somewhat upsetting to a mother of a current sophomore.

    The best decision my son ever made was to quit school.

    He found his niche in life. The tougher decision was 3 years down the line when he resumed his studies, and was choosing between school and a lucrative job offer. But he had some exceptional experiences at his 2nd college; he was able to finish college without taking on any more debt, and pay off the debt from the 1st college very quickly. His final year at his 2nd college was essentially a full ride, based on the combination of merit money he earned and the need-based grants he qualified for as an independent student. I saved a lot of money because I didn't have to pay for those last 2 years at a pricey private where my son was unfocused and not performing particularly well.

    It makes parents feel better to have their kids "on track" toward a 4 year degree, but it is a waste of money if the student is not engaged and not taking advantage of what the school has to offer.

    But keep in mind that the majority of kids do stay in school. My d. is very different than my son. There is a tendency for students to get tired of their college campus after 2 years and crave some sort of change, but my daughter opted for a semester abroad during junior year. She's very goal oriented and much more mature than her older brother was at the same age.

    If I have any advice, it is simply to listen to and respect a kid who is talking about leaving a school. My son told me at the end of sophomore year that he was 95% sure that he wouldn't be returning the following fall, but I insisted on making a $500 nonrefundable housing deposit to hold a spot for him the following year. At the time I reasoned that I did not want the decision to leave forced on him by the lack of housing... in hindsight, if I had spent more time listening to him and less worrying about how I could persuade him to stay in school, I'd have saved my $500.

    A 20-year-old is a different person than the 18 year old who started college 2 years earlier, usually far more capable of knowing their own mind and recognize when things are not working. At the same time, at that age your offspring don't always tell you the whole story -- you can't assume that you have a complete picture of why your kid wants to leave their college. There may be some very big problems or issues at the college that the student does not feel comfortable discussing with the parent.

    That doesn't mean that every kid who thinks about leaving will do so; some will think it over and opt to stay. I just think its better to be open and give the student room to explore options. I think the worst case scenario would be a kid who was forced to stay in a bad situation without having resolved the underlying issues - in that case, the parent is throwing good money after bad, and whatever problems were causing the kid to want to leave may only intensify.
  • HImomHImom Posts: 17,705Registered User Senior Member
    Have also heard of kids who "opt out" of school for a while. A friend's D was back in HI trying to solidify her thoughts about her major while working & taking classes at local CC rather than remaining at OOS public which cost a lot more while she was trying to sort it out.

    There is tremendous pressure on our kids to choose a major & graduate in 4 years, especially when they are at an expensive U. D really struggled with her choice of major (and still is). She has been thinking about it since she got out of HS in 2007 and has just applied to switch majors for the 3rd time in less than a year.

    I know another young man who lost a very generous merit scholarship due to poor grades and is home selling cars. He tells his folks wants to return to out-of-state private U, but is unsure how that will happen at this point.
  • glidoglido Posts: 5,068Registered User Senior Member
    Add one more: smart kid with a 3.8. He dropped out of cempetetive private school after sophomore year because of debt. He is trying to find a job and is hopeful he can transfer to state U. next fall.
  • InthebizInthebiz Posts: 614Registered User Member
    Some very bright kids drop out (as sophomores or juniors) because they don't feel challenged or focused. They usually return later with a great sense of purpose.

    I've know people who dropped out as late as 2nd semester senior year (although, to me that seems foolish . . . just finish before yo set off on whatever adventure is calling your name.)
  • hmom5hmom5 Posts: 10,882- Senior Member
    My nephew insists that based on jobs he has seen others at his school take over the past 3 years, he thinks his school is a waste of his time.
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