Dear Dr. Hwang:
“I’m at the end of my second year in college. I’m thinking about dropping out because I can’t afford it. My bills are high. All I ever do is work, barely sleep and do homework. Plus, I don’t know if I’ll get a job in my major when I graduate anyway? Is the sacrifice worth it?”
Dear Stay In School:
The likelihood of being able to afford a life in the future may substantially decrease if you don’t secure a college degree or educational training now. While a four-year degree may not lead to instant employment, the absence of a four-year degree could rule you out of immediate consideration. Not obtaining a four-year degree greatly reduces possibilities that you will be considered for a J-O-B, especially for people of color. National statistics continue to reflect this sad but true reality.
For the rest of your life you will likely have bills waiting to greet you at the end of each month. If it isn’t your cell phone bill, rent, a mortgage, gas, electricity, clothing, food or car insurance, bills are part of the wonderful American experience.
Bills are real and inevitable. Unless you have a trust fund waiting around the corner, ongoing bills intrude, like unwanted ants on a kitchen counter. Going to work, sleeping and doing work at home are likely also a part of your future. The concerns that you’ve listed are real and of course demand our attention.
However, I’m not sure you want to drop out of college based on the reasons given. These same barriers or challenges will be there regardless if you go to school or not.
If anything, at the end of 2-3 more years, you’ll have bills and a four-year degree. If you drop out, you’ll just have bills with no real way of securing a professional life, which will help draw down your debt. Just a thought?
It sounds as though you are in serious need of consistent sleep, time with friends and a small break from the stress of every day work. Working hard is important, but so is taking a break to refuel. Taking breaks to obtain adequate sleep and participate in activities that energize you are necessary first steps towards making well thought out and rational decisions.
Your decision to stay in school, could impact your future and it deserves careful consideration. If you are burnt out, overworked and exhausted, you must find some ways to creatively move towards a sound mind. There are countless articles and ideas on websites that can help with this. You are too important to make a hasty decision about obtaining a college degree. Therefore, it’s best if you can wait to make this life altering decision. Obtain perspectives from friends, family or others you respect that can give you an honest appraisal. If you drop out, it is difficult to drop back in.
I would submit that you see the seriousness and magnitude of your decision or you would not have written in? I’m sorry you are exhausted and overworked right now. But, this doesn’t mean that your life will be like this forever. With regard to your fears about obtaining employment, you are getting ahead of yourself. When that time comes, you will have student services available that will help you write cover letters and resumes.
Right now, I highly recommend getting increased sleep. It’s also important to eat healthy, rest and recover from the overwhelmed state that you describe you’re in. Don’t even entertain making this decision until you are fully rested and can gain some perspective about your hopes, dreams and goals.
I’ll say this. I wouldn’t be able to respond to you today if I didn’t have a college degree. I have never regretted pushing through the more difficult times to obtain a degree. School has allowed me more professional opportunities than I could have possibly imagined. Whether we like it or not, having a strong educational background opens up doors. I honestly don’t know what’s best for you or your future. I simply hope you’re in a strong and healthy state of mind before you make such an important decision.
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is an adjunct professor at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology.
The purpose of this column is to invite reader questions related to psychological and emotional issues. It is not intended to diagnose but serves as an informal dialogue. Your identity will be protected.