The Weekly Read

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Why dropping out of college is not always a bad thing

In the latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with Campus.ie, Vaida Bell asks if dropping out is really such a bad choice?

Finishing school can be an extremely stressful time. There is pressure from all sides on you to make a decision, which, in theory, will determine the rest of your life. So why not do what I did, and run away from it all?

I’m 24 years old and currently a second year journalism student at Griffith College. I would like to share my story with any future students who, quite honestly, have no interest in becoming a student.

I finished school back in 2007 in Lithuania. After I received my Leaving Cert it became obvious that I had no idea of what to do next. I looked forward to the prom, yes, but when it came to picking courses and professions for a future career - I had no clue what direction to take.

To make matters worse - all my friends seemed to have a clear picture of what they wanted to do when they ‘’grew up’’, and followed these plans all through high school.

I know now that at this point I should have sat down with my parents and laid my cards on the table: I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, so, well, should I not just get a job instead?

 But no, I did what all people do after finishing 12 years of exhausting studying: I enrolled to do more exhausting studying.

What followed was a semester of skipping and oversleeping lectures, too much partying and a great sense of disappointment with myself. After all, even though I did the right thing by getting into college, I still felt that I had no clue of what to do and where to go next.

And so I dropped out. A sudden sense of freedom took over, I packed my stuff and came to Ireland to seek adventures and new experiences. And while my family was shocked and unhappy with what I was doing, for some unexplainable reason it felt good: for the first time I was doing what felt right and not what was expected of me.

At this point I have to say that following two years were extremely difficult. I got a job and was living independently, but I was not happy. Obviously, I was lucky enough to have a job in the midst of recession that not only paid the bills, but allowed me to travel and socialize.

In the back of my mind, however, a realisation lingered that things were not settled. By leaving I only escaped the pressure of my family and friends, but I did not escape my own conscience. Little by little my life became a chore, an unbearable existence and I fell into depression.

And so a time has come to rethink my values, to clarify my outlook on life and face those expectations set upon me. While at first I did not connect this sense of failure with dropping out of college, it soon became clear that what I was lacking was self-realisation and intellectual challenge that only a good college degree can offer.

I was longing to be recognized and valued, and just simply to do work that felt important and not something that everyone can do. All I wanted was to make something of myself. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m back in college and can openly say that I AM LOVING IT!

You will hear a lot that the best thing about college is the life itself. And it is, without a shadow of a doubt, a true statement. But life is very long, and has its ups and downs. And most importantly, everyone’s path is different - there are no set moulds. So, if you are finishing school and haven’t got a clue of what to do next - follow my advice and don’t do what everyone else is doing.

 Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. In the end, something good will come out of it!

Vaida Bell is a Journalism student in DCU

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