Drop out like it’s hot

(Leslie Walker/ The Ryersonian)

(Leslie Walker/ The Ryersonian)

Dropping out of university may be the best thing you ever do.

More students are enrolling in university than ever before. Often these students come straight from high school. Students are pressured by their parents and teachers to “get thee to a university.”

In 1992, 57 per cent of university students were between ages 17 and 24; by 2007, 17 to 24-year-olds made up 65 per cent of university students, according to StatsCan.

But if you are on Facebook chat instead of paying attention in class, and if your notes for a semester have more doodles than bullet points, maybe it’s time to consider whether university is the right option for you.

There’s a stream of students, barely out of high school, coming into Casey Dorrell’s office at Ryerson’s Fresh Start program. These students are in trouble because, according to Dorrell, they didn’t know how difficult the transition from high school to university would be. The program recruits students with plummeting grades. Students take anywhere from a semester to a year off to reflect back and decide if university is really the right thing for them. If they do want to make it work, they will enroll in two classes and take a Fresh Start class that teaches academic skills and encourages self-discovery.

Dropping out isn’t always a bad option. For some Fresh Start students, it is the right choice. At 18, you may not know what you’d like to do with your life, and that’s okay. Zarrin Darnell-Martin wrote in The Globe and Mail last week about her experiences as a dropout. Darnell-Martin only did a semester in communications at Concordia University, and although she did well academically, she did not enjoy her brief venture into post-secondary education.

“I’m 29 now, and after a lot of living (some successful, some not), I have returned to university as a mature student. And what I am seeing around me are a whole lot of students who need to drop-out just like I did,” she wrote in her personal essay. She continues: “Instead of dropping out, it should be called dropping in. So I double dare you: drop in! Drop in to who you are and what is right for you.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 19, 2014.

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