The ups and downs of dropping out


It’s easy to see dropouts as failures and quitters, and in rare cases geniuses and innovators, but that is not entirely the case for everybody. Every student knows at least one person who left school, for one reason or another. The collegiate system was based upon the desire for higher learning, but the question is, for what? 

Do we do it for our parents, who certainly want the best for their child, or for the prestige the school gives them, or perhaps for some other higher purpose? Case in point: the dropouts that we hold in such regard, either as examples for independent thinking or traitors to the system. We shouldn’t focus on the millionaires and billionaires who made it big, but on the reasoning as to why they left.


Up close: Who and why?

It is difficult to ascertain the different reasons why a person would drop out, without actually talking to someone who has. Bryan, a former student at DLSU, after shifting courses through Literature and Organizational Communication, wanted to go into Communication Arts but instead decided to drop out and pursue film and cinematography.

As to why he dropped out, he says, “I was stuck in a place where I felt I wasn’t learning what I wanted to learn, and there was a feeling of, like, the system let me down. I feel I didn’t get what was promised to me in terms of a degree. I feel that grades aren’t the only way to get an education, not to say that my way is easier, in some cases it is actually more [difficult].

 “Many people still put a premium on college degrees because there is that promise that you are guaranteed a diploma and a job, which is not necessarily the case.” There is a greater precedence, especially amongst the youth, to not be caged in by the old preconceptions of an education. 

The idea that a person should go to college for learning and bettering yourself and not just for a job is something that should be admired.  It seems that there is this preconception of the requirement of a college degree in order to get a job, and while it certainly doesn’t hurt, the pursuit of one’s passion, the pursuit to better oneself not for the money but to learn, is something that is to be emulated.

“College is not a stepping block, and I chose my path (dropping out of college), not for the money but for my passion,” he says with a conviction unrivalled by most of the people stuck in the collegiate system.

He also said that because he wanted to be an artist, he felt that the practical knowledge from doing actual work as an apprentice under a director doing cinematography work was something more his speed, saying, “It’s not like engineering or something where you really have to go to school. You don’t have to be a bachelor of fine arts or something. The value of education is more of the experience, and if you’re just learning by yourself, then good for you.” 

Not as romantic as it may seem

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Dropping out is sometimes done for a calling to do something else or to better themselves in a way not offered in a traditional institution, not out of boredom or wanting to just quit, as an education is incredibly important.

Not everybody that drops out is going to be like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, and even they had to go through a lot of hardship to see their vision come to life. “Only do it if you are crystal clear on your vision. You need to be sure of what you are going to do, and just like in your course, you can’t half ass anything.”

It seems very romantic, the idea of leaving school to pursue one’s dreams, but more often than not, that is not the case.

It is important not to be fooled though, as our student says, “It’s not always like the grass is greener on the other side. I was only able to do what I did because it is what I could afford to do. I was very lucky that I was able to apprentice and do what I am able to do considering my bad grades, and I would only drop out of school if my vision was crystal clear.”  

The fact of the matter is, most people go to college in order to secure a job later on, and in this economy, who can blame them? The social stigma is also something that one has to live with. “People still have this idea that if you dropped out of college, you are stupid and lazy,” says the student in question. The idea that it is impossible to sustain oneself without a degree is an antiquated one, but it is still prevalent throughout society, and there are certainly times where the weight of people’s stares takes a toll.

Measure for measure, worth for worth

What is the worth of an education? To get a job and earn a living for oneself is something we all should do and it is important, but is that truly it? Is that the limit of our desires? Education is certainly important, but the manner that we receive it can be questionable.

College should be about bettering yourself and learning about life and what you want, not bettering yourself in order to get a job or money. Money will come and go, there will be times when you have more than what you need, and times where you won’t; that might be true for everybody, regardless.

So why are we here? Where are we putting our importance? Whether a person drops out or not is entirely up to them, but whichever path someone chooses, it should be for the right reasons.

In the end, what you take away from your education, whether it be in school or through working, will matter more than grades and money. As our student says, “The value of a college education is not from the grades or the papers, but from the connections you make, from the experience of it all.”

What we leave school with should not just be the grades, the accolades, and the pats on the back given by our parents and professors, but something more; something that we take far beyond our school life, personal truths that stay with us even when we forget all the other technicalities and hard skills. We should keep these truths, not just for ourselves, but for the betterment of others as well. 

Alex Diaz de Rivera

By Alex Diaz de Rivera

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