How will dropping out affect your prospects?
Come to the conclusion that university life just isn't for you? Are you about to decide to drop out? Before you do, you might want to see how dropping out will affect your prospects.
Getting a Place on Another Course
Firstly, you have consider how dropping out of your current course will affect your attempts to get a place on another course, at the same university or otherwise. No matter what the reason for your dropping out, you will have to convince the admissions tutors to take your point of view. The biggest question that will be raised in their eyes is likely to be "Is this person capable of handling further academic study?" While this question would seem irrelevant for those who have dropped out for personal or medical reasons, you will have to convince the university that these issues won't resurface when you start at their institution. If you dropped out due to problems with the course, you may find it even harder to convince them that you're capable: especially if you waited until the end of the year and did poorly in your assessments before dropping out. Showing real enthusiasm for the subject you are trying to switch to will help, but won't go the whole way to dispelling this myth.
Be prepared that if you get interviews, you will be asked why you dropped out - which will require you to explain your decision in full - and you will be asked what you did on your time out (if applicable) - they won't be impressed if you spent a year out bumming around at home doing nothing rather than doing some productive. Even working full time will be good as it'll show you're capable of commitment and a bit of responsibility.
Getting a Job
Just like admissions tutors, employers are going to wonder about your credentials if you dropped out of university. As virtually every job will have an interview stage before you get the job, you can definitely expect to be asked why you dropped out, and it's likely going to be a more hostile question in a job interview situation. You will have to prove to them that your decision to drop out isn't a reflection of your ability to graft and pitch in, but to do with the conditions and circumstances that you found yourself in. Exactly when on your course you dropped out could be a factor here: while dropping out right at the start could show that you were brave enough to know that university wasn't for you, it could also imply a lack of commitment. The later you drop out the worse in job terms - if you drop out in second or third year then you'll have a nice big blank on your CV that will see you at a disadvantage to those who have actually managed to complete qualifications or work consistently.
Getting Further Funding
Funding options for students who have dropped out can be found in detail on this page. Suffice to say here, that you will lose entitlement to some years of funding if you receive more than 1 years' worth of finances - and remember that the year your drop out, even if you pay the money back, counts as a year of being funded. Make sure, if you know what you want to do next, that you've looked into funding options, because you might have to pay for a year for yourself.
"Oh, so you dropped out of university?" *sneer*
Dropping out of University is not the end of the world; many people still don't go to University and it may be that you achieved some kind of interim qualification which you can pick up through distance learning. Going back a decade or more, far fewer people went to university at all, so dropping out was less common, and more of a stigmatised thing. Even if back then people had legitimate personal or medical reasons, they were seen as people who couldn't cut the academic life. The numbers of students that go to university now is far higher, so, while people dropping out is therefore likely to be higher, it is still seen by many people as a sign of weakness. However, University is only one aspect of your life; it does not define you. If University wasn't making you happy then you'd be crazy to stay.
Regardless of what others may say or think of your decision to drop out, what is important is that you make the right decision for yourself, after all it's only your life to live.