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Junior Who Wants To Drop Out Of College

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I sent this question b4 but it's kinda urgent, so hear me out. I wanna drop out of college. I'm a junior, but I hated school my whole life & never wanted 2 go 2 college. I graduated high school w/ honors & I'm at a prestigious school, but I hate it. The school itself is ok, but I hate my classes & I've no friends or career goals. I switched majors several times, pushing graduation later. I've been depressed thru college, making my ability to study, socialize, & function worse (though I still exercise, do activities, etc. to try to feel better). I'm scheduled to go back to school in 2-3 wks, & I need to know what to do. My parents don't care about me. They insult me - say, "What're you gonna do, drop out of school & work at Mcdonalds the rest of your life?" They also say I'm fat (even though I lost 21 lbs cuz I'm too depressed 2 eat), & say I can't succeed in my major or won't ever make money to support anyone. I've 2 therapists. One says I should just finish school b/c I'm already a junior & I'm "almost done." The other acts empathetic, but just thinks I'm stressed. Both therapists say, "You had a hard semester. You need a break. You'll feel better after a few weeks off." I have nobody to turn to. What's the point of working so hard for a degree that means nothing to me? I don't want a job either. I don't want anything. I don't look forward to a family, nice career, or anything. It's like I have no future cuz I don't want those things. I feel like life is pointless. If I could I would never get out of bed. PLEASE HELP. I FEEL LIKE NOBODY CARES ABOUT ME.
Signed: Junior Who Wants To Drop Out Of College

Dear Junior Who Wants To Drop Out Of College,


TeenHealthFX is sorry to hear that you are in such distress about school. Many teens feel that college is some sort of automatic once high school is done. Senior year hits, the applications go out, and college becomes the next step. The problem is that some teens are not ready for college right when they graduate high school – whether there are not ready emotionally or are having trouble figuring out what they want to do with their lives – some teens end up at college prematurely, and can then end up finding the experience more stressful and agitating than beneficial.  

FX is also sorry to hear that you do not feel like anyone truly cares for you. You are clearly going through a very difficult time right now – a time where you could use support and guidance from loved ones. It must feel very lonely and frustrating not to have that at the moment.

FX hears all of the difficult things you are going through right now, but wants you to have some hope that things can get better. It will take time and work on your part, and the path to get there may not be what you envisioned for yourself when you thought about what these particular years of your life would look like – but you can get to a better place. To get there, consider the following:


Decide what you need to do about college. Given that you have 3 semesters left, do you think it is best for you to just push through and be done, or do you feel like you are close to a breaking point and need to take a break and work some things out before you can think about continuing?

To decide what is best for you, consider the following questions:

·         Do you want to graduate college?

·         What makes you want to stay at college right now? What makes you want to leave?

·         What do you think is emotionally best for you right now, staying or leaving school?

·         What do you think will be best for your academic and emotional well-being in the future, staying or leaving school at this point?

·         If you took a break now to work through some things, would that make it easier to finish college or would it be harder to go back once you left?

·         If your parents are going to give you a hard time about taking a break from college, is this something you can manage or would dealing with their reactions be too difficult right now?

·         If you took a break some college for a semester or so, do you have a sense of how to use that time to bring you to an emotionally healthier place?

·         If you follow some of the recommendations below about your mental health treatment, do you feel you could benefit from treatment while going to school, or you need to leave school right now and put your energies mainly into treatment?

Mental Health Treatment:

Given some of the statements you made above, FX is worried about how depressed you might be. Hating your classes, having no friends, having no career goals, not feeling supported by your family, feeling apathetic about things and like life is pointless – all these things together could definitely indicate some kind of depressive disorder. FX thinks that it is very important for you to receive the treatment you need to help you with the emotional health issues you are going through.

When it comes to mental health treatment, consider the following:

·         Work with only one therapist. Having two therapists, with different styles of working, different personalities and views on things, can be extremely confusing. FX is worried that by having two different therapists you are going to stunt progress rather than make any. If you feel one of the two therapists you are currently working with will be of most help to you, then stick with that therapist only. If you do not feel either therapist has been helpful to you, consider finding someone new altogether.

·         People who feel depressed and somewhat stuck in life, and find that with time and treatment things are not getting better, are often not dealing with their anger. FX wonders how much anger you may have inside of you and how much time you have spent in therapy looking at your anger and working through it. If you have not, this is definitely advised.

·         In addition to addressing your anger sufficiently, FX thinks it is extremely important for you therapy to focus on your feelings about other people. It sounds like you see people as generally being uncaring and not particularly helpful to you. Given your experiences with your family growing up, you may have good reason to feel this way. However, if these feelings never get addressed in therapy, FX is concerned that you will continue to feel stuck in your life. It is important to talk about these feelings as they apply to your therapist, people you know in life, and your feelings about people in general.

·         If you have not done so already, consider meeting with a psychiatrist to be assessed for psychotropic medication. If you are dealing with some kind of depressive disorder, medication could be very beneficial to you.

Let people know how you feel:

If you feel your therapists are not being helpful or do not seem to be understanding the significance of what you are growing through, tell them that. Make sure they know what you have explained to us in your question. If your parents call you “fat,” tell them how much it hurts you. Be clear with the people in your life about where you are at and how you are affected by what they say and do.

And if your parents react to what you are going through by telling you that they see you as just dropping out of school to work at McDonalds, explain to them that is not what is going on. Let them know that if you take a break from school, it is because you need to take care of yourself emotionally. If you were diagnosed with cancer, you would need to drop out of school temporarily to get the treatment you need and get to a place where you can be well enough to function in a college environment and continue on a productive academic/career path. Mental health illnesses can be very similar. If you are emotionally not well, you need to address the problem so you can get back on track to where you want to be. The important thing is to have a plan – to think about the treatment you need, where to live, how to support yourself and so on.


In the end, only you know what’s best for you. Think about what decisions you need to make for yourself right now that are in your best interest – emotionally, academically, etc. If you need to take a different path at the moment than you had envisioned, that’s fine. Just focus on a plan that will help you to get to where you want to be when you think about the big picture.   


If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 973-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX