People drop out of college every day, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a college dropout statistic. There is a way to drop out of college that will help you in the long run, whether you’re dropping out of community college, a four-year college, or a university.

How Do I Drop Out of College?

Before you read any further, you need to know that dropping out of college does not mean you stop going to class. There is a difference between dropping out of college and quitting college, and what you want to do is drop out of college, not just quit going. 


If you stop going to classes without dropping out, your grades will suffer. W’s are better than F’s. When you drop out of a college class during the appropriate time, your transcript will reflect a W grade for that class. The W grade on your transcript means that you withdrew from that class and did not get a failing grade.


Now, with that out of the way, here are some steps you can take if you are thinking of dropping out of college.

Withdraw from Classes

As we mentioned above, you will need to withdraw from your classes so that your grade point average doesn’t take a hit. Why is this important? Because there may come a day when you decide to go back to college and a transcript full of F’s will look much worse and make you a much riskier applicant for admission than someone who has a transcript of W’s where they withdrew from their classes the right way.


Colleges have their own withdrawal time period where you can withdraw from a college course without it affecting your grade point average or financial aid status. You should check with your advisor to find out when you can withdraw from your college classes before it hurts your grades or financial aid status.

Consider Taking Part-Time Classes

Another option you can choose before completely dropping out of college is to lighten your class load by going to school part-time. Part-time college hours are less than 12 hours of classes each week and can help reduce your load if you are taking on too much. Keep in mind that some scholarships require you to be a full-time student to receive benefits, so there is a chance you could lose scholarship benefits if you reduce your class hours from full-time (12 hours or more) to part-time (less than 12 hours). 

Take a Leave of Absence

If you’re unsure of dropping out of college permanently, you should consider taking a leave of absence. Colleges understand that life happens for many students and staying enrolled in classes is difficult when outside forces affect a student’s overall performance. That’s why colleges allow students to take a leave of absence. The best time to take a leave of absence is before the semester begins rather than in the middle of the semester. 


A leave of absence is a period when a student is not actively enrolled in college courses but plans to return in the future. The leave of absence can be as short as one semester or as long as a few years. The most important consideration to remember when taking a leave of absence is that you should have open communication with your college to keep them informed of your absence. For example, you may think that taking one semester off will be enough time away from college, but then you realize that you need an additional semester off. Make sure that you update your leave of absence with the school so that you aren’t inadvertently dismissed from admissions or enrollment due to inactivity. 


Most colleges allow students to take up to one year off of school without having to reapply. You’ll want to make sure that your college honors this policy and doesn’t have any other prerequisites that you need to meet when you want to take a leave of absence from college.

Discuss Options with Your Course Professors

College professors are different from high school teachers. Generally, they don’t cut their students much slack. They have high expectations for their students that they expect their students to meet. After all, professors know that students are paying for their classes, so they expect them to take the courses seriously since there is money on the line.


However, professors are people, too. This means that if you have an extenuating circumstance that is causing you to perform poorly in the class, you may be able to discuss the situation with your professor to see what your options are before withdrawing from the class and dropping out of college.


Your professor may offer you an extension on assignments, as long as you request with enough time in the semester. For example, if you have slacked off all semester long and you’re just now asking your professor for help, they may not grant you any kind of extension or leniency. If you ask at the beginning of the semester or have an emergency that the professor knows is beyond your control, they will be more likely to help you, especially if you have proven your worthiness. 

How to Drop Out of College

You’ve exhausted all of your resources and have decided that you are going to drop out of college, now what do you do? 

Talk to Your Academic Advisor

Your school academic advisor has one goal: to help you with planning your college career. This includes dropping out of college if that’s what you’ve chosen. 


You will need to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss how to drop out of college. Your advisor will likely try to deter you from dropping out by offering some of the same options included above (taking a leave of absence, reducing your class load, etc.) before completely withdrawing from your classes and dropping out of college.

Discuss and Settle All Financial Obligations

During your meeting with your academic advisor, they will likely bring up your tuition status when dropping out. You will need to know what will happen to your financial aid or any tuition you have paid if you drop out in the middle of a semester. You may need to speak to someone in the financial aid office.


Scholarships and grants will have to be repaid if you drop out of college before completing the program. You will need to find out exactly how much you will owe for tuition if scholarships or grants refuse to pay for the semester because you have dropped out. 

What Happens After I Drop Out of College?

Have a Plan in Place

You will need to make sure you have a plan in place for what you will do after you drop out of college. In other words, don’t drop out of college with no fallback plan in place. You should consider additional training (free seminars, classes, or online training) to help you grow your expertise in an area that you’re interested in. Just because college didn’t work out doesn’t mean you can’t enter the workforce in the field you were studying, so take advantage of some local training opportunities related to your field. 

Get a Job in the Field You’re Interested In

Next, you should consider taking a job in the field you’re interested in so that you can gain experience. While many employers require a college degree for the position being offered, they may forgo the college degree requirement if the candidate has the experience that someone with a college degree just can’t match. Try to take a job in the field you’re interested in, even if it’s a low-paying job. Oftentimes, employers will reward hard work with promotions or pay increases. What may be a low-paying job now may quickly turn into a higher-paying job if you show initiative. 

Can I Get a Job Without a College Degree?

There are many jobs you can get without a college degree. While you may have to take an entry-level position before moving up to some of these jobs, it’s not unheard of for college dropouts to obtain one of these reputable jobs.


Some jobs that you can get without a college degree include the following:


  • Administrative assistant
  • Front office staff in a medical office or hospital
  • Inside or outside sales representative
  • Customer service representative
  • Appraiser
  • Real estate agent
  • Surveyor
  • Freelancer 
  • Social media marketer
  • Photographer
  • Computer specialist (information technology, spreadsheets, reporting, etc.)

Final Thoughts

Dropping out of college can be a positive experience. You shouldn’t feel like you have failed if you have to drop out of college, but you must drop out of college the right way. 


Don’t stop going to class. Dropping out of college and stopping going to class are two different things and will have two very different impacts on your transcripts. 


Make sure that you withdraw from your classes first. Not only will this salvage your transcripts, but it can also help save you money so that you don’t end up paying for a semester of college that you never attended.