Advice for a university drop-out
July 11, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm stuck at a sort of quarter-life crisis/crossroads here. I was kicked out of an Ontarian university almost 2 years ago, and after two (failed) attempts to get re-admitted, learnt that my chances to get in are kinda slim. Since my withdrawal, I've been thinking about some very tough questions but am unable to solve them or come to a conclusion.

1) Should I still pursue post-secondary education? Is it worth it?
I'm currently enrolled in a GIS certificate program through a local college. I wanted to be an outdoor education teacher/field naturalist before my withdrawal, but am unsure how to pursue that goal without some sort of university degree. Since this isn't a decision that lies in my hands, is it stupid to keep trying (and trying)? An academic advisor told me that people can get re-admitted if they demonstrate that they are competent for university (i.e. show grades from another academic institution) and/or wait it out for approx. 5 or more years.

2) Is there any "good" way to break the news to your parents?
It probably sounds very silly that I haven't informed my parents by now, but I keep thinking about how gutted they would feel. I come from a long line of academics and the single most important thing for my dad is that we (my brother and I) get our degrees. My twin brother was kicked out of university around the same time I was (ironic, eh?); he informed them, and all hell broke loose. The wounds are fresh, and as my brother tries to get re-admitted, I'm not sure how they would react if they learnt about my situation.

3) How do you stay positive/still do meaningful work after dropping out?
I was never a gifted kid by any means, but I graduated high school as an Ontario Scholar. To not be able to complete an undergraduate degree is a big blow to my self-esteem and how I feel as a person (whether or not that is justified). What kind of resources or mentors should one pursue to find meaningful work?
posted by raintree to Education (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, why'd you get kicked out? Was it your grades? If so, did you have bad grades all around, or just some in particular? If not your grades, then what?
posted by lia at 7:04 PM on July 11, 2011

Response by poster: @lia Yes, because of my grades. I did have a medical issue (was sick for approx. 4 weeks with a bout of measles, and then suffered immunodeficiency afterwards) when I had a bad term, but that did not factor in any kind of lenience lol i.e. certainly isn't a good enough reason to be exempted and let back into university.
posted by raintree at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2011

If the reason you got kicked out was maturity related just take some time and work and then go give it another try if you're still looking for a degree or if it will really help you in a career. There is no need to claw your way back into university if you're not ready.
posted by boobjob at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2011

When my brother was kicked out from his Ontario university for poor grades, and he finished his degree by doing part-time classes (some by distance education). He did a few courses at the uni he got kicked out of, and a few at other universities, and had all the credits transferred back to his "original" school. It took him about 5 years (total) to finish a three year degree, but he did it, and probably so can you. (The threshold for admittance for part time study is much lower than it is for full time study, and remember that it doesn't need to be at the uni you got kicked out of.)
posted by Kololo at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2011

First, if you want to get a post-secondary education, you can get one. It will take some time and money, but pretty much anything is surmountable.

How dependent are you on your parents? If you are financially independent, I would just tell them want happened, calmly, and if they persist in castigating you, just withdraw and go about your own life. You can make a fine life for yourself without a degree and without your parents' support. Being independent will go a long way towards building a bridge back towards them.

What University is this? Some are more supportive than others in 'excusing' medical issues.
posted by sid at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2011

If you aren't taking your parents' money, you actually don't have to tell them anything.

If they've been supporting you with the expectation that you've been going to school for the last two years, Christ, I wouldn't tell them in that case either. Start going to school part-time or something to at least mitigate what you've done.
posted by spaltavian at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2011

Most of the people I knew who got kicked out for academic reasons just went to a local community college or took distance ed programs and then transferred the credits back. You take courses that you are likely to ace at the new institution. Then transfer back with great grades and get re-admitted.

But if medical issues were part of what happened, you might want to try asking your student society how to go about having your medical situation reviewed. Maybe you could have been given the chance to withdraw or re-sit exams or something. Go talk to the student society and ask who to contact next. You might find a sympathetic advisor in administration.
posted by acoutu at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Been there, it's not the end of the world. Setback, definitely, but nothing that can't be overcome.

1) If finishing your degree is really important to you (and forget about your family for a minute) then figure out the necessary steps to either transfer, get readmitted or take community college classes for a while. It can be hard to transfer or get readmitted as a dropout. Either take community college classes for a while (and get some A's), or do some other kind of engaging academic type stuff (like professor's assistant) or interning/volunteering type project that proves you can succeed in something. Now is the time to reassess what you want out of life (besides the degree), get therapy if you need it, and really look at your own work/procrastination/organization habits. Basically get your life into shape, and THEN reapply. Don't try to reapply first and then sort out your life afterward.

(You also either need some faculty members or other such figures (from the community, libraries, nonprofits, etc) to vouch for your improvement/good working skills in case you need recommendations or special finagling to get back in. This where your volunteering/academic stuff comes in handy.)

There are also things you can do in life without a college degree. Teaching requires a master's and certification, but positions in nonprofits don't necessarily, and there are nature/science outreach type programs in the government (US anyway, I assume the canadian govt works similarly) that only require equivalent experience to a degree to do. And experience can be had by working your way up into the ranks from lower level positions.

2) I'm not sure there are good ways to break this news, as much as there are less worse ways. I think letting them discover it by accident or the deadly silence after asking how school is going are probably the worse ways. On the other hand, you can inform them about it calmly and detail your plan for getting your degree/ this other great thing you are doing with your life and stand firm about it and hope they listen.

3) Stay positive by jumping into other things. Keep moving. Read up on famous college dropouts if that's what bums you down. Keep on making plans for your life. Find something to do that excites you. Keep on talking to your friends even if their relative seeming success depresses you. And don't compare yourself to other people, what they have versus what you don't. Basically live your own life is what I'm saying.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 8:53 PM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

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