Christmas Graduation: Top 5 Reasons for Dropping Out in First Year

Dropping Out

The sight of a first year student dropping out of university is by no means a rare occurrence. Yet it is strongly advised that you resist any inclination to do so if you wish to live a life of little regret.

What is Christmas Graduation?

The term “Christmas graduation” is a colloquialism used to refer to the many students who end up dropping out of their university program during their first year of school. Thus it is implied that many of these students realize they are not cut out for university by the end of their first semester and therefore perform an honorary “Christmas graduation”, and drop out by December.

Top Five Reasons for Dropping out in First Year

1. Too Much Partying

Many students that head off to university for the first time experience a level of freedom that was previously denied to them growing up. Living away from home in a dorm pack with other students ready to have a good time can make it easy to get caught up in a hedonistic party lifestyle. Unfortunately many first year students haven not developed a proper sense of self discipline and are taken down by an inability to stop. As the first two semesters of university disappear in a haze of late night inebriation, school performance may drop down to a level so low that students are pushed out of their program, and lose the resolve to continue attending school.

2. Academic Difficulties

Its not much of a secret that university is considerably more challenging than high school, both conceptually and in terms of volume. Many students fail to realize this early on and assume that they can coast through their semesters much in the same way that they got through their grade twelve classes. Once final marks for courses come back, and the consequences of not putting in the proper amount of work become apparent, some students become so discouraged by their poor outcome, and prospective three year left in university, that they decide to call the quits.

3. Feelings of Social Isolation/Homesickness

For some students who are heading off to a distant college town for their four years of university, there might be an overwhelming feeling of homesickness that creeps in once they realize that they are separated from what they have grown up comfortable with. This can be exasperated by feelings of alienation with ones new surroundings and not clicking well with peers. Conversely, students who stay in their home town for university and commute to school, may feel a sense of isolation from communal life at school. In both cases it is important to understand that these feelings are common, and to seek out the many free counselling services that are covered by your tuition, and try to sort out your personal problems before giving up on school prematurely.

4. Too Much Attention Placed on Extracurriculars

There are always certain students out there that base their entire social lives on being as actively involved with extracurricular activities as possible. Since most universities feature a dearth of student organizations, as well as fraternities and sororities to rush in first year, there is a distinct danger for some students to overextend themselves in their new found campus life, much to the detriment of their course work. As in the aforementioned cases, any early academic failure caused by this can be disheartening and lead to a premature exit from school.

5. Financial/Personal Issues

The last major factors that can push students out of university are unresolved financial and personal issues. Going to university can be a huge stress on your family’s economic situation, and this can greatly compound issues that are taking place at home, such as the loss of a loved one or a crisis within your family. When to many external burdens are placed on your life outside of school, it may become extremely difficult to retain your focus and concentrate on your studies.

Don’t Give in and Drop Out

While there are certain cases when students really discover their passion and calling in life outside of university, and leave early to pursue their dreams, most cases of drop outs for the aforementioned reasons are typically riddled with regret. Giving up on attaining a university degree might mean that you will have to face significantly more barriers in life and be denied the right to work in many fields. Moreover, while there is always potential to get your act together and head back to school, the act of attending university can often be time sensitive. It is much easier to head to university as a late teen with few obligations and people depending on you, than as an adult who has to worry about a host of different factors. Most universities are more forgiving towards underachievement in first year, and it is strongly recommended that you re-evaluate your goals and push forward.

Should You Go to Graduate School?

Graduate School

As you progress through your bachelor’s degree you may begin to wonder whether it is worth it to pursue academia as a career path. For many students who are enthusiastic about learning, the prospect of dedicating your life’s work to exploring your intellectual interests might seem very appealing. Some students may also be tempted to view graduate school as a way to buy more time away from the workforce amidst a sluggish economy, or as a means of gaining an edge over the seeming ubiquity of undergraduate degrees.

Yet one should think very hard before deciding to apply to graduate school, and ensure that they are pursing an advanced degree with the right motives in mind, lest they set themselves up for disappointment.

Thus in this week’s update I want to draw attention to two different blogs that discuss the subject of graduate school from diametrically opposed viewpoints. Although each argument should be taken with a grain of salt, these blogs bring up crucial points that you should consider before deciding to partake in further schooling after your bachelor’s degree.

Two Different Takes on Graduate School

100 Reasons NOT to Go To Graduate School 

Many undergraduate students may be shocked to learn that slightly under a third of their university professors are tenured, or on a tenure track. The grim reality is that an increasing majority of lecturers in North American universities are adjunct professors that can bring in annual incomes of as low as twenty-five thousand dollars a year after spending over a decade earning advanced degrees and accumulating debt. 100 Reasons NOT to Go To Graduate School discusses some of the harsh realities of life for graduate students, and makes a case against jumping into a master’s or PhD program after undergrad.

Some of the points in the blog might be over-dramatic and somewhat cynical, so you should keep in mind that this is by no means the definitive take on whether you should pursue graduate studies. Glean from this blog what lessons you will, and do not let yourself get too depressed over some of the harsher points.

Reasons Not to Go To Grad School? Part 1

This post in “Clarissa’s Blog” is written as a direct response to the previous, and fairly negative take on graduate school, from a student that feels quite content and fulfilled with her graduate work. Clarissa tackles many of the points in the previous blog head on, and makes a case that graduate school is worthwhile, rewarding, and not a soul crushing bottomless pit of despair.

If you take the time to sift through both posts you will come away with a better understanding of what graduate school entails.

The Takeaway

The most important point to grasp from this article is that you need to think long and hard about what you would gain by going to graduate school, and not make any sort of impulsive decision. If academia is truly your life passion, and you cannot envision a fulfilling life outside of it, then you should follow your dreams, and not let a few grim statistics scare you off. Regardless of the hardships that you may have to endure, you will find a way to make it work. On the other hand,  if you view graduate school as a means of career advancement, then it might be highly beneficial to hold off for a few years and dip your toes in the work force. Coming back to school after a few years in the real world will help you gain valuable perspective and give you a clearer sense of what you are trying to accomplish with additional education.