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View Full Version : What to do when college isn't quite right?



Kila
03-01-2013, 04:51 PM
Hello there everyone, I'm posting this thread because I've been faced with a rather perplexing issue for quite a while now, and after having spoken to everyone in my personal life about it I figured I'd reach out to the internet for advice.

I am a full time college student and I have been one for three and a half years now. I'm in my junior year, and I am an IT major. These years have not been entirely kind to me in terms of my education, my marks aren't what they were when I was in high school, and I find myself caught in a frustrating and somewhat odd situation.

My college is based around the quarter system instead of the semester system which is something that has worked for the college for about 80 years. However, my college decided that it was time to get rid of the quarter system, and is doing a switch to the semester system this year. This mass switch is pushing everyone in the IT program back at least another full year.

So here's my issue: I'm tired of school. I am to the point where every quarter I withdraw from all of my classes except for two - I should be taking at least four to continue at the pace that I am attempting to go at. This level of "tired" is because of a mixture of things, the main one being how much I dislike school and the majors offered. I have found a deep and profound passion in sewing, crafting, and mainly costume making. Where I would love to be searching for internships at theatre troupes, I am forced to sell myself as an "IT guy".

I am suffering from a lack of drive for college, if I force myself to chin up and take the front load, I find myself barely scraping D's and C's, which destroys my GPA and makes the whole process pointless. I am wasting tens of thousands of dollars a year on something that I do not want, yet dropping out just doesn't seem to be an option considering how far I am in. Of course I still have at least two more years stacked in front of me.

Have any of you experienced this? How did you handle it? What would you advise me to do?

TL;DR: I am puttering out on college, if I force myself to grin and bear it I end up failing. I keep withdrawing from classes to ensure that I get good grades. I am already three and a half years in; however, I have another two full years to go and withdrawing just adds to my time here.

Aden
03-01-2013, 07:06 PM
A lot of this decision comes down to sheer cost. How are you paying for college?

Thestory
03-01-2013, 07:17 PM
This is a familiar story.

So what made you join the IT major? Was it something you initially wanted to do? If you are just burnt out I would either slow down so you have a better pace where you wont destroy your GPA, or take a break. Really evaluate what you are doing. What would you like to do and be involved in. What would you be good at but not be completely miserable doing.
Really its up to you.
There is no rule in life that says if you happen to snag an internship in theatre you can't try it out, then return to college to complete your degree if you still desire. I've known a few people who have done something similar.

Kanagrooboy
03-01-2013, 08:56 PM
If anything, at least try to switch gears into theatre before you leave for good. Get some production experience under your belt first, and make some friends there. If they get anything outside of school productions, they just might vouch for you when you start out.

Kila
03-01-2013, 09:21 PM
A lot of this decision comes down to sheer cost. How are you paying for college?

I'm paying roughly $40k a year via scholarships, grants, and loans (the loans cover about half of the cost).


This is a familiar story.

So what made you join the IT major? Was it something you initially wanted to do? If you are just burnt out I would either slow down so you have a better pace where you wont destroy your GPA, or take a break. Really evaluate what you are doing. What would you like to do and be involved in. What would you be good at but not be completely miserable doing.
Really its up to you.
There is no rule in life that says if you happen to snag an internship in theatre you can't try it out, then return to college to complete your degree if you still desire. I've known a few people who have done something similar.

I actually originally wanted to do Environmental Science and was extremely passionate about it, but when I failed Chemistry I knew there was no way I could make it in that major. So I quickly jumped ship and signed up for IT, which I had history in and was comfortable with doing. I was never passionate about it, but all my parents told me was that the degree itself was all that mattered. I have slowed down quite a lot, but I feel like that slowing down is costing me even more money (as said before, $40k a year) and I actually really like the sound of a break. I really feel that a re-evaluation of where I'm headed is in order, I agree with you entirely there and a break would let me do that.

Thank you so much for the feedback, I may try to apply for some internships in theatre and see what my chances are :3.


If anything, at least try to switch gears into theatre before you leave for good. Get some production experience under your belt first, and make some friends there. If they get anything outside of school productions, they just might vouch for you when you start out.

Very good point, I have another quarter left in the year and I may try to reach out to others in the theatre scene, just to see how I measure. It would be great to have references as well, it's funny how I've worked at IT for three years in this college and have no references for it yet X3. Thank you for the feedback :3.

Ibuuyk
03-01-2013, 10:55 PM
I suggest taking a whole year off to give you time to let off some steam, do other stuff and think about it.

Then again if you're American I guess that's not a solution since you're in debt, hm.

Onnes
03-01-2013, 11:38 PM
I suggest taking a whole year off to give you time to let off some steam, do other stuff and think about it.

Then again if you're American I guess that's not a solution since you're in debt, hm.

The debt is there whether you take a break or not, and if there is a chance you either aren't going to complete your degree or follow that career path then you probably don't want to add to said debt by continuing classes.

Kila
03-02-2013, 12:32 AM
The debt is there whether you take a break or not, and if there is a chance you either aren't going to complete your degree or follow that career path then you probably don't want to add to said debt by continuing classes.

This is very, very true. I've been torn between the "If I stop now I'll have wasted all of that money" and "If I keep going I'll have wasted even MORE money" logic. I'm not quite sure how my school handles taking breaks. I would like to have the option to continue school with the same loans and scholarships if I decide that I've got a second wind and would like to press for my degree, but I know that some colleges really frown upon this concept.

I loathe the idea of working an IT job, I honestly do. I have no passion for any branch of IT and am currently looking for internships doing IT monkey work, in hopes of having a job that doesn't request my presence at odd hours. Part of my college's graduation requirements is that I work a full time paid IT job (the job has to be in my field) as what is called a "co-op" for several months. I was considering finding a job, working it for the length of time that my school will accept, and maybe taking a break from there to get myself figured out.

I'm also not sure of how to handle the social repercussions of the decision to take a break. I have a very strong personality, and many friends that support me in all of my decisions. However, my mother is an extreme education enthusiast. She has her doctorate in education, has been a professor for about 20 years, and is now a figure at the board of education for my home town. Any advice on how to talk to her? I know this is a personal question that is hard to advise when you don't know her, but any general tips would be very appreciated.

This is really helping me think, having clear outside perspectives is exactly what I needed, thanks guys :3.

Onnes
03-02-2013, 01:03 AM
This is very, very true. I've been torn between the "If I stop now I'll have wasted all of that money" and "If I keep going I'll have wasted even MORE money" logic. I'm not quite sure how my school handles taking breaks. I would like to have the option to continue school with the same loans and scholarships if I decide that I've got a second wind and would like to press for my degree, but I know that some colleges really frown upon this concept.

This is obviously something you should find out about. Federal loans are usually recalculated each year dependent on your parent's and/or your previous year's income. I have no idea about actual private loans. Most scholarships would be forfeit in such a scenario barring if you could claim illness or circumstances beyond your control that would qualify for their exceptions, if any.


I loathe the idea of working an IT job, I honestly do. I have no passion for any branch of IT and am currently looking for internships doing IT monkey work, in hopes of having a job that doesn't request my presence at odd hours. Part of my college's graduation requirements is that I work a full time paid IT job (the job has to be in my field) as what is called a "co-op" for several months. I was considering finding a job, working it for the length of time that my school will accept, and maybe taking a break from there to get myself figured out.

Did you ever find the idea of an IT job appealing, or did you really just go down that path simply because it was there? The latter case would be a far stronger argument towards abandoning the IT degree.


I'm also not sure of how to handle the social repercussions of the decision to take a break. I have a very strong personality, and many friends that support me in all of my decisions. However, my mother is an extreme education enthusiast. She has her doctorate in education, has been a professor for about 20 years, and is now a figure at the board of education for my home town. Any advice on how to talk to her? I know this is a personal question that is hard to advise when you don't know her, but any general tips would be very appreciated.

Obviously pure speculation on my part, but I would hope that someone with that much experience in higher education would understand that people pursuing careers and degrees they have no enthusiasm for often simply burn out. While you would have preferably figured out your ideal degree plan within your first couple of years, that simply doesn't happen for a significant number of students. Even worse off, though, are those that find themselves stuck with a degree they have no desire to use and all the debt that goes with it, facing the prospect of essentially starting over under that burden and without the benefit of further education.

What it really comes down to is that you're going to have to figure out what you actually want to do in life, and you're going to have to figure out a realistic plan to make that happen. That might involve completing your IT degree and it might not.
Certainly, if you are interested in theater, you should talk with the program at your school and see if you can find someone familiar with that field who can offer advice.

Ibuuyk
03-02-2013, 09:25 AM
Blarg, why can't education in the US be affordable like in civilized countries?

ShadWolf
03-02-2013, 11:23 AM
I was once in a position where I felt that the current education I was getting in College wasn't right for me, for me I wasn't given any kind of option of what I wanted from when I left school, cuz the school I went to sorta picked out what they thought be best for me cuz they got it funded my course for 1 year. :/

by the 2nd year attending college I still didn't like what I was doing so I ended up dropping out, they did somehow manage to fund me again for another year, so I felt like dropping out of college which was about half way through cuz I felt like I had enough of not getting what I was looking for. But at least I didn't have to pay a thing for the coursed cuz they were already funded for me, so I haven't wasted anything, except for the time I wasted there.

Another thing… I during my first year I was suppose to get a Bursary where you get paid for going to college, but they somehow fucked up on my application and I never got anything from it which was a complete waste of my time once again after having the form for getting it, filling it out and submitting it to the college office which dealt with it.

––

Thinking now though, I'm thinking going back to college again and try get something I'm looking for, which is in the field of IT and Programming related stuff. There's so many different courses it difficult to pick what's right for me.

Damian
03-02-2013, 11:40 AM
This makes me feel really glad I took a break and then pursued general prerequisites instead of jumping headlong into a career.

Kila
03-05-2013, 01:00 AM
Did you ever find the idea of an IT job appealing, or did you really just go down that path simply because it was there? The latter case would be a far stronger argument towards abandoning the IT degree.

Unfortunately, I did not ever find the idea appealing whatsoever. I had worked at a high school doing actual IT work once and found it acceptable, but never something I'd want to do for a living.



What it really comes down to is that you're going to have to figure out what you actually want to do in life, and you're going to have to figure out a realistic plan to make that happen. That might involve completing your IT degree and it might not.
Certainly, if you are interested in theater, you should talk with the program at your school and see if you can find someone familiar with that field who can offer advice.

Thank you so much for all of this advice, you're very right and I have taken these past few days to really think things over. I have one more quarter left in this year that I'm going to try to finish but I have decided to apply for internships and jobs in theatres, while also looking for volunteer work. At the same time I plan on working an IT job, just to make sure that I'm not jumping the gun in assuming that IT work is as bad as I've cut it out to be in my mind. If it is I think I'll take a break from school and follow the path that volunteering/working an internship has opened up for me in theatre production. I hope that I can balance this and make enough money to fend off the loans once they come for me in the future.



Blarg, why can't education in the US be affordable like in civilized countries?

This is the most valid question ever *laughs*. I am currently studying German, and all I could focus on was the fact that their education is (almost completely) free.



Thinking now though, I'm thinking going back to college again and try get something I'm looking for, which is in the field of IT and Programming related stuff. There's so many different courses it difficult to pick what's right for me.

I think you should definitely go for it, if you have the desire to learn and would like to get a degree to climb higher in your personal goals you should definitely pursue your options. :3 IT itself is an extremely broad field, so you will have plenty of time to play around with different areas and what will fit you best.



This makes me feel really glad I took a break and then pursued general prerequisites instead of jumping headlong into a career.

This definitely seems like the smart thing to do with college. My parents were so non-stop on the education pressure (along with my high school) that I was forced to jump straight into the unknown. Some people manage just fine, I unfortunately did not do so well u.u.

Onnes
03-05-2013, 01:58 AM
Sounds like you've got the right idea. As long as you're willing to put in the work to get where you want to go I'm sure you'll do fine.

Shiko
03-06-2013, 11:55 AM
I know how you feel. I just recently graduated from College this past July. I had been in for 3 years trying to achieve a 2 year degree. About 11 months before I was done I realized that...I in-fact didn't want to do web design for a career. I thought of it more of a hobby and something I wanted to do in my spare time, not every-day. I as well noticed that my particular style is cartoonish, and most web and graphic design firms perfer the polished business look. (which is understandable) So I felt that I had failed. It was really hard. I was battling with myself if I should just quit and save money....or continue...finish and feel proud to have a College Degree.

In the end I chose to finish. Even though it was my choice I still have up's and down's. I am finding it's going to be nearly impossible to go back to school unless I start pulling private student loans as I almost fully exhausted my stafford Loan. But as you... I have found myself really wanting to learn something in a Trade...like pottery or gem cutting. Something that is creative. I originally wanted to go back to school to become a System Administrator (IT) but decided against it. My choice was simply so I could get a job and make money so I could survive and pay off my student loans. Honestly though, life is too short to just throw yourself into a job or career that you simply just did to earn money and to just "get by" I personally think that no matter the money doing something you love and enjoy is way more rewarding.

~~~In my opinion with your situation. I would have quite 11 months before I was suppose to graduate IF I was getting bad grades. But I had been on the Dean's list so many times with a 4.0 that I felt stopping would only hurt me. In your case (and no offense) I can understand stress honestly can mess up everything and taking on too much at once. I think that since they pushed you back a year you already did that you should probably stop. You would save money, and not have to re-pay for a year you already did. (which is BS ><) In the end though it comes down to your decision. Always remember that after you stop college you do have to defer loans and all that good stuff...and really try and get out in the working world. ^^~~~

Hope this helps at least a little. :) Best Wishes!

InvertedVantage
03-06-2013, 12:44 PM
What I would suggest is finding trade shows and organizations for what you want to do, and try to network with people directly through them. For an art-based career you will have to make a portfolio of your work, and transitioning from one field to the other will be difficult, but not impossible. :)

Kila
03-07-2013, 12:32 PM
~~~In my opinion with your situation. I would have quite 11 months before I was suppose to graduate IF I was getting bad grades. But I had been on the Dean's list so many times with a 4.0 that I felt stopping would only hurt me. In your case (and no offense) I can understand stress honestly can mess up everything and taking on too much at once. I think that since they pushed you back a year you already did that you should probably stop. You would save money, and not have to re-pay for a year you already did. (which is BS ><) In the end though it comes down to your decision. Always remember that after you stop college you do have to defer loans and all that good stuff...and really try and get out in the working world. ^^~~~

Hope this helps at least a little. :) Best Wishes!

This was amazing to read, very solid advice and I really appreciate that you're coming from the exact same situation (I just owe way more money hahaha). I wish I had only done a two year degree myself, IT really doesn't need $40k at a 4 year college, I realize this now >.<. I'm seriously considering at least taking a break at the end of this summer, it really all depends on how well I do with getting a job and an internship. As you very accurately said, I do have to make sure that I get a job and brace myself for the loan deferment process if I decide to drop school.

Life is so short and there's really no reason to live it miserably, especially when you've already found what makes you happy and a viable way to pursue that lifelong happiness. Your post really resonates with me, thank you again. It has given me more to think over ^.^


What I would suggest is finding trade shows and organizations for what you want to do, and try to network with people directly through them. For an art-based career you will have to make a portfolio of your work, and transitioning from one field to the other will be difficult, but not impossible. :)

Yeah, I think I'm going to start assembling a portfolio and seeing what I have to do exactly to get myself out there, I have some solid work that may not be spectacular, but is definitely worth showing to people looking for interns and general assistance. When I get it assembled I may share it with you guys to see if I have a chance :3. Or if I "shouldn't quit my day job" hahahaha X3.

Algorithmus
03-07-2013, 02:50 PM
There might be a chance to do an internship in another country, depending on what's available at your university. I know I did an IT one at Technische Universitšt Darmstadt once, and it was an awesome experience. It's part of what helped convince me to find work over here, and I love it. I don't know if it's cheaper, but I ended up coming home with more euros than I started with because they gave us a stipend, and I didn't squander it all away. The program doesn't require you know any German, but it would be a bonus. Feel free to ask if you're interested.

I was going to suggest co-op as well, but it looks like you've already considered it.

It might also be easier to start off at IT, and work at companies that don't focus completely on computing. I work as a programmer for a design company, for example, and I have a cousin who works at a pharmacy as their IT tech guy. You could probably just use it as a kind of networking if your best chance of finding a job is through IT.

Shiko
03-09-2013, 12:17 PM
This was amazing to read, very solid advice and I really appreciate that you're coming from the exact same situation (I just owe way more money hahaha). I wish I had only done a two year degree myself, IT really doesn't need $40k at a 4 year college, I realize this now >.<. I'm seriously considering at least taking a break at the end of this summer, it really all depends on how well I do with getting a job and an internship. As you very accurately said, I do have to make sure that I get a job and brace myself for the loan deferment process if I decide to drop school.

Life is so short and there's really no reason to live it miserably, especially when you've already found what makes you happy and a viable way to pursue that lifelong happiness. Your post really resonates with me, thank you again. It has given me more to think over ^.^



Yeah, I think I'm going to start assembling a portfolio and seeing what I have to do exactly to get myself out there, I have some solid work that may not be spectacular, but is definitely worth showing to people looking for interns and general assistance. When I get it assembled I may share it with you guys to see if I have a chance :3. Or if I "shouldn't quit my day job" hahahaha X3.


I hear ya. Honestly it cost me 40K for just 2 years at the College I went too. Of course this college was online. When I got out of highschool my situation was no job, no car, I lived with my mom and even she didn't have a car so my only option was Online schooling. So basically not even a month after graduating Highschool I was in College Full Time. Personally I think I should of waited and given myself time to actually think about what I wanted out of a Career and possibly my mistake wouldn't of been made. Luckily my Mate has been telling me that having a Degree is something to be proud of no matter if it was a mistake or not, he's now making me take a few years off and telling me to really think about what I want to do Money aside.

Please keep us updated with what you decide and the verdicts :) College is very stressful and causes a Love hate relationship x3

Ibuuyk
03-09-2013, 06:31 PM
Meanwhile I paid around 250$/year for college, excluding the equipment which usually went around 100-200$ tops (200$ happened one single semester and the book lasted throughout my whole diploma, and they said it'd last me through university was well if I chose to continue)