Should I drop out of college?

While I agree with you a thousand percent I would point out that you probably accrued a college education in your field of expertise. College is only as useful as the knowledge acquired. And that is only useful if there is a market need for that knowledge or the information can be used directly by the graduate to start a new business. There have been a number of posts of college grads who complain they can’t get a job in the field of their education.

Don’t drop out. If you drop out now, going back and getting a degree will be much, much harder. And without a college degree, your job options will be severely limited. There are of course exceptions to this, but in today’s job market there are enough people with college degrees looking for work that someone without a degree is going to have a very hard time.

Go back to the financial aid office, and pester them about loans. Apply for every possible loan you can get. Try to get loans big enough to cover both your tuition and reasonable living expenses.

If you simply can’t swing it, look into community colleges. But by all means, finish your degree now. Working full time and actually having money is incredibly tempting in your position, but I think you’ll be doing your future self a huge disservice if you do.

UC is cheap. If I were you, I’d take out the loans and pay them back later. If they worry you, you can always work full-time every summer and pay back a chunk. If you are a conscientious borrower, there’s no reason to have a huge debt hanging over your head upon graduation - not from attending UC. Or switch schools to someplace even less expensive.

Or, I would get a full-time or nearly full-time job and take a couple of classes just to keep in the “student” mode. If you quit school completely, it’s very very hard to go back once you start making money. How many years of income do you need in order to be able to file for financial aid independent of your parents?

Do not get married in order to solve a temporary financial problem. That is the biggest mistake you will make in your entire life.

Absolutely false. I have never worked a day in the field that I got a degree in. The knowledge I acquired in college has rarely been put to practical use. On the other hand, the job I have now, and virtually every job I have had since I graduated, I would not have been eligible for without a college degree. My resume would have been tossed aside if it showed no degree, and for good reason.

While I would have made a good employee as a High School graduate, there is no way for an employer to know this from a resume or an application. Having a degree indicates that you posess a certain level of education, but more importantly, that you have the ability to stick to a plan and complete it. This is what is most important to most employers, and it is what you are struggling with right now.

Think about it as a future interview question for a job that you really want - “How do you handle adversity?” “Well, one semester into college, my parents told me that they were no longer going to pay for my schooling. While I thought about dropping out, I realized the value of a degree, so I investigated all the possible options for loans and grants, got a couple of part time jobs, and stuck it out. I do have a lot of loans to pay back, and that is a good reason for you to hire me. I am motivated to make money and get out of debt.”

Have you tried asking your professors if they know of jobs available? My Faculty Advisor steered me into the job that kept me going. (I had to bump school down to half time, but then I had three kids.)

Sometimes faculty can set up jobs that haven’t been listed yet. If you know a professor that knows you do good work, look them up - even if you’re not taking a class from them currently.

The department secretaries sometimes know of jobs, too, if you’re in good with them.

Brilliant, Lamar

Right. That “Employement History” and “References” bits don’t do a thing for you, eh?

Do you have federal work-study money? If not, do you want work-study? My university (Roger Williams) keeps some extra money on hand for supplemental work-study funding. I don’t qualify financially for work-study, so what I do every year is write a letter to the financial aid department reminding them that I’m a great student, active in the community, etc. etc. , and that it’d be a shame if I couldn’t come back to school for financial reasons. So far, they’ve always tossed a few grand my way. :slight_smile: Ask your financial aid department how to appeal your work-study status.

Once you get the work-study allowance, get a work-study job in your university tutoring center. If it’s anything like my school, the workload is very light and they’ll pay you more than the standard work-study rate. Good luck!

The HR person won’t even get that far into the resume if the “Education” line doesn’t contain the required degree.

With the resume scanning software now in place in most large companies, the HR person probably won’t even see your resume in the first place. They scan for keywords, and if they don’t find what they are programmed to look for, your resume will never make contact with the hiring person’s eyesight.

Honestly, and I say this as a fellow “don’t have a degree” person - if the job requires a degree, and you have 600 applications in front of you (our last posting) you toss those that don’t have a degree - regardless of if their life experiences make up the difference. You aren’t even getting that far - education - BA, keep for further purusal. None - put in the “file” pile. There are ways around that - a personal referral for instance. Managing to bypass HR. Being in the situation where there are only four resumes. Getting in as a temp or contractor (who are usually sold more on skills) and proving yourself. My current job requires a degree…but I was brought in during a tight labor market with a specialized skill set by a referral. I wasn’t hired from a newspaper add or a headhunter.

It takes a number of things to succeed - hard work, education, experience, luck, charisma, contacts - probably a lot more. More of one will usually make up for a derth of another . But don’t voluntarily short yourself starting out on the ones you can control, like education, unless you are darn sure you have the rest in the bag.

You like that feeling of not having enough money? Ready to have that feeling for the rest of your life? Then by all means drop out of college. Sure there are some people who have achieved some basic level of success without college degrees. There are even some trade jobs that pay decent money. I just can’t imagine that there’s too much demand these days for computer guys with no degrees willing to work for six figures.

Yes, I’m sure that jobs not requiring degrees offer so much in terms of intellectual stimulation and personal responsibility. I have a high school friend who never finished college (comunity college at that). He’s doing fine as a 30-something year old living at home with his parents in our home town while the rest of us have moved on to bigger and better things.

Has your financial aid office literally told you, “Sorry, you do not qualify for a loan”? Or do you simply not qualify for certain types of loans? I have a veeeeeery hard time believing that someone whose parents are pretty well off (by their own admission) can’t get any loan whatsoever.

If you like college, and are sure you want to graduate, I’d say stick it out, bite the bullet on a few large loans, and get your college years over early. You’ll be paying it off for a long time, yes, but I just don’t think that the idea to drop out of school and try to save money for such a huge investment as college sounds like a very smart plan. I’d be very surprised if such a plan ended up working for one in ten people who try it.

Take out a loan. Why work really hard to make chump change for a few years to get enough money to take more school, when you can get be making real money much sooner by going to school now. The change in income should be much higher than the interest you’ll have to pay, especially now.

I didn’t notice this sentence the first time I posted.

I don’t believe there is any income limit for the parents that would prevent the student from getting a Guaranteed Student Loan. I am not sure what the limits are for PLUS loans these days but I’d bet any limit is somewhat high.

Did the financial aid office tell you and your parents cannot get any loans? Or are you just assuming because your parents make $50K or $100K or whatever? If so, you are really screwing yourself because there is not a simple formula that says, “Well, his parents make $100K so NO MONEY FOR HIM!” There are many factors involved: how much they make in salary is only one tiny part of the equation. Do they own property; how many other kids do they have; how many others in college; how much mortgage and equity to they have in their house; do they support any other family members; do they have high medical bills; does either parent pay child support; and on and on.

Have you actually filled out an FAF?

I’m assuming you’re pretty young, TonyF. All I can offer are my observations.

Yes, you’ll be wanting to have a degree later on, so continue to pursue that.

Mindful of what others have said about putting it off, I’ll venture that you don’t absolutely have to attend right now if you’re ~18-20 years old. I worked for a few years, with my last job before school being that of a reactor operator in a chemical plant. I had school in mind, and saved enough to not have to work much of the first year, when I was 22, which allowed me to establish a great GPA, to wittle down over ensuing years and still graduate with honors.

My parents had no input, financially or otherwise, so I pursued my own curriculum. By the time I got to school, I was used to working and managing my time. That helped a lot.

After the first year, I knew I’d finish no matter what. After trying the local student job market and realizing it was going to be close to impossible to manage college while juggling whatever minimum wage jobs I could get, none of which would work with my schedule or, singly, give me enough hours to live on, I got a bank loan and bought a taxicab.

It always seemed to me to be the perfect student job, although during my time on the meter I never met another student cabbie. I controlled my schedule absolutely, made much better than minimum wage (and usually was a bit better off than my compadres who were on the parental dole), had some interesting times, learned a lot about running a small business, could give my friends part-time jobs when they needed them and, although the hours were long (I worked ~48 hours a week, usually, and did maintenance and bookkeeping), it was not particularly taxing work and I both stayed on the Dean’s List and partied with the best of them.

I made it through, sold the cab for a profit (my first experience with the capital gains tax) and didn’t have any student loans to deal with. This was done at a decent school that I must imagine compares with the UC system (University of Texas at Austin).

Hope it helps. Good luck, pal!

Here is a list of ways to be independent

  1. What are the criteria for being declared an “independent”?
    You can be considered independent if you:
    a. Were born before January 1, 1982
    b. Are married
    c. Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
    d. Have children who receive more than half of their support from you
    e. Are an orphan or ward of the court
    Being married sounds like the only way. Would a marriage of convenience to earn pell grants be something you’d look into? If you got 3 years of pell grants (12k), a PLUS loan from your parents and 15k in loans yourself you’d be able to afford college.

Stay in college; Lamar has it exactly right. That said, I fourth or fifth what others have said about the community college/JC route. No matter what, keep taking classes. I’m a high school teacher, and over the past ten years I’ve seen so very many of my students take a year off and never make it back. Bright kids whose jobs may never involve anything more complicated than asking ‘you want fries with that?’ just because they fell out of the habit of school.

One of my co-workers, friend, and a former student, was in nearly your same exact situation. Three years out of college she’s married to her sweetie, has a little girl (a little ahead of schedule but oh well), and their lovely quarter mill. house is being built as I type. She’s got loans to pay off but they’re manageable because she and her husband both have the job security/income you rarely find without a college education. You’re likely to be in some kind of debt for most of your life. College gives you a better chance of paying it off and living a decent life while you do it.

Wow! Thanks for all the advice… this has definitely been helpful, and I’m actually a bit inspired from all the stories. I’m sorry I didn’t chime in earlier, but it seems my subscription isn’t working. :smack:

I went scholarship-diving again and found some good leads. Hopefully some jobs around here will free up when the quarter ends and some students graduate.

Most likely, I’ll be drafting up a promissary note with my girlfriend’s mom. I feel it’s worse than getting a bad loan - borrowing from friends and family leaves me on edge - but in terms of finances it makes the most sense; it impacts her little and I won’t have interest to pay.

Let me see if I can answer all the questions…

I am currently getting a loan from my parents, and I will pay them back as I can - at least that was the deal two months ago. They can’t really afford it now. I’m a little ticked at them, but they’re not a money tree anyhow, and they’re close enough to retirement that I’d rather not be sapping their savings if I can help it.

Junior College
I neglected to mention this part. I’ve already been through 5 years of the our lovely California junior college system. I don’t say that mockingly, either; I really prefer my old school to where I’m going now - UC Davis - though I haven’t given it much time yet. I transferred into Davis this fall, and I’m halfway done with CS or CS&E.

Why CS?
That’s why I’m stuck in CS - I’m at a critical point where if I go much further without a direction, I’ll have to go through a bunch of red tape. Initially I wanted to go into CS&E - basically CS with some electronics thrown in there - but I’m likely disqualified on some technicalities at this point.

Also, it’s What I Do[sup]TM[/sup]; I was programming before pubescent and it’s something that just clicks in my mind. But I’m sounding a bit like a starving artist here… should I go for something profitable - and maybe hate it - or is CS profitable enough?

Join the Army!
I have considered enlisting; in fact, if I hadn’t chosen to be with my girlfriend, get an education, and so on, I’m sure I’d have been in Iraq since day one. That said, my best friend enlisted to get help with college, and now he’s there. In other words, considering that the army Owns You (or so it seems to me) it’s not worth the loss of that kind of freedom to me. I’m not downing on the service; it’s that I’d rather live one life or the other.

I have a job on-campus now, I’m “on file, just in case” for three other jobs. The UC system prevents me from working more than 20 hours per week, so that barely covers my living expenses. However, my job just doesn’t have much work at this point - I’m averaging 6 hours a week. The real kick-in-the-nuts, personally, is that I have about 6 years of programming experience - so I’m experienced enough to be worth hiring - but I don’t have a degree - so I’m taking student-wage jobs using the same skills. (Unless $8/hr is a good wage for Java & web programming?) I’m up for other jobs - I applied for some grunt work as a stage tech at the Mondavi, minimum wage - but the leads aren’t panning out.

Get married?
Hey, I’m up for it. The girl would kill me, though - “Hey honey! I need to claim indepdence - let’s get hitched real quick.” :stuck_out_tongue: … so it’s not quite an option.

Parents’ Finances
Ok. It’s a sore spot for me in a sense, because there is some precendent in expecting parents to pay for college. They’re making ~$130,000 a year. I admit that I haven’t talked to anyone in person about this, but generally all the financial aid information I’ve read and all the websites I’ve visited, um, they kind of laugh at me when I show that figure.

They don’t have the best spending habits either. It’s embarassing enough not to go into detail; suffice it to say, they’ve got debt. Not too much to manage, but enough that any loans they get now won’t be good ones, and paying tuition out-of-pocket is a bit too heavy for them.

A few years back when my sister went for aid - and they were in worse shape at the time - she was declined then for all of the student loans. She went independent and took up the loans herself - I don’t see why I shouldn’t either, now.