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So I'm a College Dropout: Disappointed With School

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Replies to: So I'm a College Dropout: Disappointed With School

  • inthegardeninthegarden Registered User Posts: 621 Member
    ^^ And to quote a favorite author:

    "People may really have in them some vocation which is not quite plain to themselves, may they not? They may seem idle and weak because they are growing. We should be very patient with each other, I think."
    -George Eliot, _Middlemarch_
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,662 Senior Member
    edited October 21
    OP, how do you feel about succeeding and success? Does it scare you on some level? Dropping out in your senior yr is a form of self sabotage. People do that for a variety of reasons, often because they fear succeeding. Some people subconsciously associate succeeding with abandonment. Are your parents more involved when you screw up? Do they leave you alone when your doing well? Interesting to think about, but then put it aside.

    Another question is how is your concentration?If you can focus and do what you have to do you can finish your degree. Put all the self-analysis on the back burner for now. There's time for that later. Just go back to school. You don't have to love it you just have to have the concentration to read, to think and perform. If you can do that you will have your degree before you know it. Take out the emotional aspect and put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Think how freeing it will be to not have something looming over you, to not have guilt, to not feel self-loathing. Many people have dropped out and gone back. Good luck to you.
  • droppeditdroppedit Registered User Posts: 691 Member
    @citymama9 -- I'm not sure there's a "self sabotage" or "fear of success" issue. One reason why I'm interested in this thread is that it's somewhat similar to my college experience (except my problems started in HS, I was in EE in college). Back in the first post @MotleyFool said something that was very familiar to me: Soon after, I stopped doing homework because...what's the point? I would still get A's on exams. Then, I stopped studying until the night before exams and cram weeks of material into a 6 hours. That strategy resulted in less A's, but I wasn't sure how else to motivate myself.. I completely ran out of gas around my junior year after being on probation off-and-on for the previous years and finally dropped out. I was completely incompatible with school as normally taught. It would have been better to invert the process: you're given a long-term project and learn what you need to solve the problem.

    This has been on my mind recently because D18 will go to college next year. I see a lot of myself in her and wonder how she'll do there. What would have helped me was a professor sort of taking me under his wing and giving me a project to focus on. The regular schoolwork would have been a necessary evil like others have noted for jobs: making copies, paperwork, etc.

    It's also interesting that the OP is looking into software. That's what I ended up doing. I had several part-time job programming jobs during college and went full time after dropping out. Of course, this was back in the Stone Age. Things are significantly different now.
  • dustypigdustypig Registered User Posts: 889 Member
    OP, what do you actually want out of life?

    Do you know the answer to that question? I get the feeling that you don't. You seem to me like someone who is incredibly gifted but isn't motivated to finish anything, or do work you regard as pointless, because you don't really see any fundamental reason for doing it. Presumably you aren't ambitious for fame or fortune; you aren't motivated by an inner drive to prove yourself or a desire to impress others. So what do you want?

    If what you want is to have a job where you will be constantly challenged, first off, you have to get yourself into a place where you'll be a candidate for that kind of job. As you know, you've gotten off track on that one. Right now you could probably teach yourself enough programming etc. to get a decent job as an IT support person. In that kind of job, you'd certainly be solving problems, but they'd be fairly run of the mill problems ("why won't my **** account sync up?") and you'd be bored.

    For anything more creative and interesting, you need a degree -- and I'd bet that you need a degree from a pretty impressive school. Google isn't going to hire you to write the code for their next big thing on your resume as it stands. So basically, if that's what you think you'd like, you need to force yourself to do what it takes to get yourself there, including doing pointless busy work, including group projects where you're the only one who understands the problem, and so on. As others have said, all those things are part of life.

    There is another possibility, which is that you can find a cause that motivates you. I know people who were never motivated by a desire for the marriage/kids/house kind of life, or by a desire for a fat paycheck or a prestigious title, or even by having challenging work to do -- but they were motivated by the knowledge that every day when they woke up, they were doing something that they truly believed in. When you are working with that kind of goal in mind -- whether it's saving lives, making interplanetary space travel possible, fighting against injustice, reforming our political system, whatever -- then suddenly you stop wondering "what's the point?" You do everything you do for one reason -- because it advances your goal.

    If you really can't find anything that will actually motivate you to do the work you need to do to change your life -- and it's going to take more work now than it would have if you hadn't fallen off track in college -- then I'm sorry, but your dead-end job is going to be your life for the foreseeable future. And if that thought still doesn't motivate you, then there's not really any help for you. Learn to love your dead-end job, or to accept it and find joy in your life during your off hours, or something.
  • dustypigdustypig Registered User Posts: 889 Member
    I just read your posts to my husband, who was a lot like you in youth (and kind of still is). He got an engineering degree at MIT while hating every minute of it (but forced himself to finish it out of sheer stubbornness). He has the following advice:

    Engineering is probably not for you because it's not about creativity, and you seem most interested in finding creative solutions to difficult problems rather than working through a known set of parameters to get to a successful resolution. Most definitely, studying engineering at a school like the one it sounds like you were at, that's more about teaching undergrads the ropes than about doing research, is not for you. My husband says, you should have been at a research institution from the get-go -- somewhere where the undergrads complain that they don't get enough real training. You probably would have loved that. (His words.)

    You are probably going to change careers multiple times in life, either because you become bored or because you can't stand how everyone around you is just chasing promotions and they don't care about what seems important to you. That's fine, as long as you keep moving mostly forward. You've moved backward right now, but the good news is that you can easily move ahead from where you are; you just have to find something you'd rather be doing. If that's college, fine; if not, also fine. Remember, college will always be there if/when you want it.

    Don't confine yourself to math-related subjects. Truly creative thinkers are often more appreciated in business or marketing than in engineering or science. And having a strong STEM background in a business setting can be an advantage, since most others won't have that. Remember, tech and science companies need executives to actually run them -- engineers usually aren't very good at that. And they value executives with tech/science knowledge and experience. In a small start-up company, creativity is absolutely required, and you don't necessarily have to have an MBA from Harvard and a raft of old-boy-network connections to be considered valuable.

    Also, he would like to point out to you that in Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon never did find a career he really wanted -- he fell in love and decided that that was more important than anything else. So hopefully there is a Minnie Driver in your future.
  • dustypigdustypig Registered User Posts: 889 Member
    Whoa, I just noticed that CC asterisked out a word in my first post. It wasn't an improper word, I swear -- it was the name of a software company, but in that sentence, it sure looks like I used a certain adjective that I'm pretty sure would be bleeped out! I didn't do it, and it won't let me edit!
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,516 Senior Member
    edited October 21
    I suspect OP has heard a boatload full of "it's you" through his life, blame that it's his vanity, immaturity, laziness, etc. I suspect he's facing some genuine personal roadblock and can't be just prodded or criticized into what we think are the solutions. It needs to be clear to him, his way of thinking. It needs to feel right, to him.

    We don't know that a more competitive college wouldn't have led to the same problems.
    Otoh, had my D1 faced a super low bar for several years, her ship would have hit the sandbar, too. Not for lack of smarts, ambition, and skills, including personal, but out of utter boredom.

    I can't diagnose OP. But I believe the solution lies in baby steps, initially. Find one class to take, to feed the academic curiosity at the right level Get the right psychiatrist (that title) who works with under-performing young adults and can evaluate you for meds, if needed. Let that person guide. (One who gets you, keeps your conversations on target.) Make one semester's commitment to a course and take it seriously, do what's right, hold yourself to attending class, doing the work on a regular basis.

    It doesn't matter if it's some local college, no fancy reputation. Find the right challenging course. Test yourself in this small way. Feel it. Learn from it. Then take the next step.

    That's how we pick up the pieces and restart. One step at a time.
  • CALSmomCALSmom Registered User Posts: 437 Member
    @MotleyFool I think your first misstep was choosing the wrong college and not having the foresight to plan for the right academic and social fit. It does make a difference who you are surrounded by when it comes to your college success. Some students need the push from other bright and driven kids as well as professors. It sounds like you didn't have that at your state university.

    With your "good will hunting" smarts it really won't carry you far unless you have the supporting traits such as drive, focus, determination and perseverance to go along with it (not to mention good team player and communication skills..soft skills. Brilliant minds such as Steve jobs or bill gates who were college dropouts had the vision, drive and revolutionary idea to be successful entrepreneurs. If you're not entrepreneur material, then you will have to make do with using your skill set within the framework of "an employee" which means you have to play by someone else's set of rules.

    So, like most others suggested, get that degree! Your parents sacrificed their hard earned money for your college so it would be a gift to them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and maybe that'll give you the motivation you need to do it. Good luck!

  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 Registered User Posts: 2,977 Senior Member
    I hope that @MotleyFool takes some of the advice here. This has to be a painful process for him.
  • fendrockfendrock Registered User Posts: 3,050 Senior Member
    @MotleyFool Take a look at the Olin College of Engineering. I think their approach to education would work well for you.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,448 Senior Member
    Olin College's acceptance rate is lower than that of half the Ivies. I think Olin would be an unrealistic choice at this juncture.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,325 Senior Member
    That will depend on the gpa. Engineering transfer gpa scores needed are different than incoming freshmen. The op would need to check the gpa requirements if he decided to transfer to another engineering program. Chances are he would be a junior at whatever college simply because most but not all credits will transfer from one college to another.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 1,666 Senior Member
    Olin generally doesn't give any transfer credit for students who don't attend partner colleges, so even if MotleyFool was admitted to Olin with a GPA too low to be admitted to the Engineering College at his state school, he would effectively be starting over as a freshman.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,516 Senior Member
    edited October 22
    He wasn't accepted to his own college's engineering program, switched to physics for the 2.0 minimum. Can't assume he can transfer into any competitive program, without some improved record, in the interim. Even that may not do it. He transferred once, apparently didn't do well there.

    This is a re-build.
    At first, I wouldn't worry about credits transferring, just small steps showing the right focus, follow through, and collaborative skills.
  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 535 Member
    @MotleyFool - Hi. You sound smarter than I am. I have been working as an engineer (electrical/software) for quite a while. On the one hand, I relate to your feelings. Because I am not quite as sharp as you, I feel it less than you do. Most engineering jobs will probably be unsatisfactory to you. The way that I avoid 'my' various pains of office life is that I am a contracting engineer, so my daily feeling of 'achievement' are that I made more money for my company. Maybe that sounds hollow. Maybe it is. It seems to work for me.

    Anyway, on the other hand, I have been able to spot engineering opportunities that are 'out of the norm'. Maybe if I lived in other parts of the country, I would see even more. There are start-up company opportunities where brilliance combined with hard work (which you seem capable of when you see there is something to do) can be highly valued. There was also a time in the dot-com bust where I started my own non-engineering company in case engineering never 'recovered', and would say that the feeling of calling my own shots business-wise (subject to keeping customers) and setting my own goals was quite fun.

    BTW, I am an introverted person. As such, some of the advice sounds like extroverts telling introverts what to do. This is exactly what you will get from many mainstream bosses. It won't fit you. It sounds like this is a search for 'fit'.
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