Why you Shouldn’t be Afraid to Drop out of Uni

I went from a near-perfect ATAR to quitting by semester two, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Why you Shouldn’t be Afraid to Drop out of Uni

I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in Year 12. I’d always been a good student, and I expected myself to be able to achieve the scores I’d dreamed of gaining since I was a little Year 7. After spending the year toiling over rankings, subject scaling, mark allocations and question structures, the morning of results day presented me with an ATAR of 99.65 and two perfect study scores. While I took a few days to celebrate the extraordinary dividends my hard work had paid me, another pressure quickly made claim to the absent space where that of VCE used to reside. I very soon began to believe that I’d failed miserably in some way – despite having an ATAR that pretty much gave me a key to the city of courses, I had no idea which one to enter into.

I felt that the expectation that my success at school should mean an immediate start in an esteemed university course. It seemed silly to think after all the time I’d spend working for those marks, I wouldn’t be taking advantage of them. Despite stepping out of a career’s counsellor’s office two days after my final exam with lingering uncertainties, I made a decision to start in a Law/Arts course.

It took me about four weeks of uni to realise that my former affinity for academics was not the same without a motivator – an equivalent to that 99 ATAR I aimed for in Year 12. My lack of certainty that my course was the right one for me ended up being enough for me to realise that I needed time to think about what I was doing with my life; if I wasn’t motivated and passionate to earn my degree, what was the point of digging myself into a mental ditch to get there?

What I now realise is that there’s very little time when considering course applications to think about how prepared you are for further study, between endless assessments and exam prep. This is likely be the first big decision many students make for their own lives, and the mere months after exams leave little time to make it well, if you’re starting from a point of total uncertainty like I was.

Going to university is not the privilege – having the choice to is. Holding off on your studies to make the decision about starting a tertiary pathway doesn’t mean abandoning that choice, but instead means you’re taking the time to make the right one for you. If you need it, don’t deny yourself time to think after school ends. Taking time to consider what you really want is much more valuable than spending it earning four units of study that you’re unsure you wanted in the first place.

Whatever you perceive your level of ‘success’ to be in high school, it should play little part in you determining what your next step is. Don’t follow your marks, follow your gut.

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Elli Murphy is a Law/Arts student, born and bred in Melbourne, with a passion for creative communication/media, politics and policy change. Her overt childhood confidence first led her to journalism after discovering that acting wasn’t the only way to get in front of a camera. While a camera is not now vital to her plans, she aims to work towards a career in media presenting and long-form writing. Her hobbies include cooing over dogs, chocolate-eating, podcast-listening and cooking.