Before they’ve discovered the uni bar.
Before they’ve discovered they don’t actually have to go to lectures.
Before they’ve realised all those restrictions of school don’t apply anymore.
Before all that there’s this great buzz on the first day of uni for first year students. The lecture halls are packed, students race between classes and everybody is dreaming of their future – the future which university is going to 100%, no doubt, deliver them. That’s the plan, that’s what everything so far has led them to believe.
But by the end of the year one fifth of those once-packed lecture theatres become empty seats. And it’s not because they’re off smashing beers at the uni bar. It’s because they’ve dropped out. They’re part of the 20% of Australian first year uni students who hit the cancel button on their degrees each year.
To be clear, there is no shame in dropping out. For the student it’s possibly the smartest thing they’ll ever do in their life. Slugging away on years of study you don’t want to do is bound to lead to disaster eventually. The sooner you get off that pathway and find what’s best for you the better. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg or any of those other uni dropout success stories.
The real problem is why are universities haemorrhaging so many of their customers? If 20% of any other business’s customers were throwing away what they bought each year then you’d have to ask some questions. Is it the fault of universities? Is it the fault of schools? Is it the fault of parents? Is it the fault of students themselves? Or is it some mix of them all?
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Through our Year13 YouthSense research we’ve found 43% of high school students don’t know what they want to do when they leave school. Further, a NSW Department of Industry report found 81% of high school students plan on going to uni. Of those planning on going to uni 25% said they still didn’t know what career they’re interested in pursuing. As many as a quarter of university students then are flying blind on campus – going to uni because it’s the thing to do but with no idea of what they’re gonna do after.
Through our Year13 research we’ve found 68% of Australian high school students plan on going to university. However our research has also uncovered that 43% of high school students have no idea know what they want to do after school. Many students then are flying blind on campus – going to uni because it’s the thing to do but with no idea of what they’re going to do do after.
Without a clear idea of their future they’re often entering into courses they are not truly passionate about. Without passion for what they’re learning students will often find themselves lacking enjoyment. It’s one of the big factors behind why one fifth of first-year university students drop out of their degrees each year.
The top two reasons we’ve found for why students consider dropping out – number one, it’s not enjoyable, and number two, they don’t know what they wanted to do. Like an ill-fitted suit, when a course doesn’t fit, or an education pathway entirely, it just makes your life a pain.
An 18-year-old from NSW responding to one of our survey’s about student stress shed some light on the experience of a university dropout.
“The future causes the most stress for me as I am confused about what exactly I want to do,” she said.
“I have such a variety of passions and like so many things and want to go to uni. However nothing there really makes me more interested and excited to learn. I find it extremely frustrating not knowing what I want out of life and this makes me stress even further.
“Currently I am at uni knowing I am going to drop out because I don’t like it but I just don’t know where to go next and need some help deciding but don’t know who to reach out to for the answers. I am trying to deal with it by staying optimistic but am recently struggling and trying to find new ways to deal with it.”
It’s clear with uni for a significant amount of students there’s a problem of expectations verses reality. At the heart of the issue we need to better guide young people into education and career paths that are best suited to the them. This involves all youth influencers from parents, teachers, career advisors, educators to employers.
So how can those classroom seats be kept full? How can undue stress and wasted time and money be avoided?
From looking at the factors affecting young people’s education choices and why they feel pressured to go to university over TAFE, apprenticeships and other pathways, we’ve come up with strategies to decrease university drop out rates. Our 10-page report complete with our exclusive research and statistics dissecting the issue will help educators and parents alike understand this crucial period in young people’s lives to better set them up for success.
Grab a free copy of our Here Comes The Drop report and find out how to better prepare young people for university.