With the rising cost of higher education, many young adults are considering quitting college to pursue business. College is not the only path to success and you’re not alone in considering this direction. In the US, the annual college dropout rate is around 40%, and nearly 30% of those dropouts cite entrepreneurship as their reason for leaving school.
As a freelance writer who decided not to go to college in the first place, I can understand the appeal of leaving college to pursue entrepreneurship. Instead of staying in school and racking up more student debt, it’s possible to leave and forge your own career path. However, the decision to drop out of school shouldn’t be made lightly. Here are some pros and cons to consider when quitting college to pursue business.
Pros of Quitting College to Pursue Business
You’ll Stop Accumulating Student Debt
More than ever, students are feeling the pressure of student debt after graduation. Student borrowers have accrued more than $1.7 trillion in total outstanding student debt. The average college grad will have to pay back about $40,000 of student loans once they finish school.
With the rising costs of higher education, many students are asking, is a degree worth it? It’s worth considering if you’re taking out more loans than you’re expected to earn in your desired career path. A college degree should help you achieve a return on your investment. Sadly, in some professions like teaching, you may not earn enough to justify or offset the high cost of getting an education.
If you weren’t planning to go into a lucrative career field after college, it could make sense to drop out and follow your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Without tons of student debt dragging you down, you may have more capital available to invest in your company, which could help you become more successful.
You Can Pursue Other Learning Opportunities
Traditional institutional learning may not be for you. Some students thrive in a less structured environment or learn better through experiential learning. The good news is that there are so many other options than just a traditional college degree. These include certificate programs, online courses, and continuing education programs.
Especially in today’s liberal arts programs, college students are often taking courses that are not in line with their interests or future goals in order to meet degree requirements. If you quit college to pursue business, you could potentially explore the world and learn in a different way. Many entrepreneurs find their successful business ideas while traveling as digital nomads, pursuing their hobbies, or having real life experiences.
Having the free time to explore and build your business could be beneficial in the long run. Although you can start a business in college, quitting school may give you more time to invest in your startup and your own personal development as a budding entrepreneur.
You’ll Have More Time to Work on Your Business
Starting and scaling a business is difficult and time-consuming. Trying to juggle college and your fledgling startup at the same time may split your focus so much that you’re unable to be successful at either endeavor. Giving your full attention to your business could enable it to grow at a much faster rate.
However, it’s definitely a risk to leave the safe, stable path of college to pursue entrepreneurship. Here are some of the cons of quitting college to pursue business.
Cons of Quitting College to Pursue Business
You Won’t Have a Recognized Degree
Although you can make it as an entrepreneur without a degree, having one may still be useful in certain fields. As a freelance writer, I’ve had clients turn me away because I didn’t go to college. Although most clients care more about my portfolio of writing samples than my educational background, I’ve still lost opportunities because I don’t have a degree.
Before you quit college, it’s worth talking to entrepreneurs in the industry you want join to see what they think. They might be able to give you some insight on whether or not you’ll face barriers if you drop out because of your lack of educational credentials.
You’ll Have to Start Repaying Loans
Student loan payments usually kick in six months after graduation or leaving school. Sometimes there’s a grace period in repaying these loans, but it’s important to check your loan terms and calculate what you’ll owe if you decide to quit school. If you’re close to finishing your degree, it may make sense to stick it out. After all, you’re still responsible for all the student debt you’ve accrued so far. Leaving school when you’re almost at the finish line means you’ll be out a lot of money without a degree to show for it.
Make a Plan to Support Yourself
Before you consider dropping out, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to support yourself while you get your business off the ground. Will your parents allow you to live with them, or will they be upset that you dropped out and kick you out? Where will you live if your parents cut you off?
It can take a while for a startup to begin turning a profit, so at the very least you’ll need a part-time job. Do some research and figure out which jobs you’re qualified for with only a partially finished degree. Will those job options give you enough money to live on and invest in the tools you need to make your business a success? Making a financial plan will help you determine if dropping out is feasible.
You Might Miss Networking Opportunities
Universities are often one of the best places to make business connections. Alums often help each other out or open doors for other alums. Schools also have excellent career services departments that can help with building your resume, finding job leads and acing interviews. If you decide to quit college to pursue business, you may miss out on some of the opportunities to network and build soft skills that will aid in your job search.
You May Need a Backup Plan
It’s possible that leaving school to pursue business may not work out. If your business doesn’t become a success, what will your backup career plan be? If you need a degree to be successful in your second choice career, it may be worthwhile to stick it out and graduate from school. Although you can always go back to school, many people find it more difficult to succeed as an adult learner because they have more responsibilities like a mortgage and bills, which is something to consider.
Making the decision to quit college and pursue business is not an easy one. Hopefully these pros and cons can give you food for thought and help you make the best decision that aligns with your goals for the future.
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Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.