Dropping out of university: failing is allowed!

written by: Nena Aichholzer, 08.04.2021

Another semester filled with bad grades, even though you’ve invested a lot of time in studying? The amount of housework is too much for you? Lectures, fellow students and lecturers are boring? However, quitting is not an alternative because dropping out of your studies is embarrassing? What will your parents say if you actually quit your studies? Questions after questions that make your head spin.

At STUWO we have taken a closer look at the topic of dropping out of university and one thing should be said in advance: Nobody but you can make this decision for you. Nevertheless, it’s great that you’re looking for information that can help you. Read carefully through the next points but listen to yourself whether you really want to give up your studies or whether you just need to find new strategies to hold on to until graduation.

1. Your studies are sheer agony and have been for a long time

Studying can be like a roller coaster ride. From awesome to absolutely frustrating, everything is possible. And that’s perfectly normal! After all, you can get a lecturer with whom you are simply not compatible or there are lectures where you already have to yawn when reading the title of the class. Fortunately, you can do something about boredom at lectures. However, if, for a long period of time or even from the start, you feel that this is the wrong way to go about it, you should take it seriously and reconsider your studies. Because if your studies are an unbearable burden for you and have been like that for a long period of time or already from the beginning, you will probably not find your happiness within your current subject. So try to think about when the feeling first appeared and for how long it has already been there.

2. No clear study goals

There are different reasons for studying something. Some people have very specific career aspirations and therefore have a very clear goal in mind, for which it is worth continuing – even in difficult phases. However, some study without having a precise idea of ​​what they want to do with their degree at the end. If you feel a lack of interest regarding the study content, it will be rather difficult to find motivation in demanding phases.

Ask yourself what you actually want to achieve with your current studies and what it can help you with. Reminding yourself of your personal goals, or perhaps start thinking about them for the first time, will help you bring more clarity into the vortex of questions.

3. Wrong choices

The beginning of a degree is usually also the start of a new phase in your life. Most people move and will have to make new friends at their new place of residence. In addition you will be confronted with many things that you have to sort out for yourself for the very first time: curriculum and modules, ECTS, electives, deadlines and much more. It certainly takes some time to find your way around university. All of this may overwhelm you at first, but you usually grow into this environment pretty quickly. After all, changes always take time.

Anyways, people learn in different ways. Some love to acquire knowledge independently, to scroll through books, to work out scripts and to deal with learning topics on a theoretical basis. Others, on the other hand, want a school-like character and a form of imparting knowledge that is as rich in experience as possible. So if you are more of the practical and application-oriented type who prefers clear structures, it may be that you do not feel comfortable at a university and that the university of Applied Sciences, a dual course of study or an apprenticeship are more suitable for you. Here is an overview of the differences between universities and universities of Applied Sciences.

4. Wrong subject

Of course, there may be a subject or a lecture in your studies that is not particularly suitable for you. However, the majority of the content should meet your interests. If you torment yourself every time you have to read study materials or go to your lectures, it may simply not be the right course for you. Therefore, if you notice that the topic is absolutely not for you, you will need to admit it to yourself. Everyone makes a wrong choice at some point in their life and these are usually the most important experiences in life because they will teach you about what’s not for you. Inquire about what might interest you instead and whether something you have already studied for might even be credited to you. These decision-making aids for choosing a new study subject can help you with your decision.

5. Duration of studies

How long it will take for you to graduate can be an important criteria in your decision-making. If you only have one or a few semesters to go, or if it is just about writing your final thesis, it would probably be a waste not to graduate. After all, you have already invested a lot of time in your degree. If you already notice in the first semesters of your studies that you are in the wrong place or that another subject is much more appealing to you, it makes sense to think about a change.

6. Lack of career prospects

It’s a bit of a dilemma when you perform well in a degree and find the course content totally exciting, but the job prospects are anything but positive. You probably don’t want to study for unemployment, but you shouldn’t just give up and conjure up the worst-case scenario either.

If your studies really suit you, you may be particularly good in this area and have the best chances to find a good job afterwards. Of course, it’s never wrong to look for alternatives that match the knowledge you have acquired so far.

7. Bad grades, exam anxiety or no motivation

If your grades jeopardize further studies or graduation, the first logical question is whether this is due to your own motivation to study, whether you have too little time because of a part-time job or private obligations, or whether the study is simply very difficult and perhaps too demanding for you . It’s not easy, but try to be really honest with yourself about the answer.

Most of the time solutions can be found so that you can find more motivation for your studies. There are also tons of ways you can best prepare for exams or overcome your exam anxiety. But if your studies are simply too much for you, you really don’t need to feel bad or be ashamed of yourself. We don’t have to be able to do everything and are allowed to pull in the reins for ourselves if it doesn’t work out like we imagined beforehand.

8. Financial reasons

If money is tight all the time, it can become a great stress factor and it can take away the joy of studying. However, if this is the only reason why you want to turn your back on your studies, you should definitely check whether you tried various options to make ends meet in order to worry less.

Housing costs are usually a large monthly item. STUWO student apartments are a cost-effective and modern alternative to high rental prices in larger cities. We have summarized further tips on financing your studies in Austria and how you can save big money as a student. Reading our article is worthwhile and will be beneficial for your wallet as well. Perhaps you will be able to continue your studies without having to worry about your finances too much.

9. Dropouts

Your decision has actually already been made: the course does not fit. However, you are still worried about how your family or friends will react to your decision and therefore you don’t go through with it? We know it is not easy for us if we do not meet the expectations of others. However, hand on heart! You are an independent person who is responsible for yourself and you probably have your own expectations of how you want your life to turn out. Of course, you care about those around you, but changes like this happen all the time and they will most definitely support you in finding your way. Try to have a conversation with them, explain your alternative to current studies or what you are planning to do next. Thinking about it carefully beforehand should be part of your strategy anyway. And maybe you are even more worried than you really need to and the reactions are far more positive than you feared.

10. Change of perspective: new beginning

If you already know what you want to study instead of your current degree, you have a big advantage and are one-step further on your new adventure. When making decisions, the rule of thumb is that you should move on to something new instead of just breaking off or ending something. There can be absolutely no question of failure if, instead of dropping out of your studies, you simply take a different path that suits you better. That sounds completely different, doesn’t it?

Dropout or not: Successful and above all ideal paths of life are rarely straightforward. Try to stay open to finding your own path and give yourself enough time for orientation and decision making. People who are close to you are often your best advisors.
We wish you every success and all the best for your future paths!


We are happy to help!