Six Tips For Returning To College After Dropping Out

Published on: February 18, 2024

Earning a degree is rewarding and can open many doors when pursuing a career. Unfortunately, many students end up dropping out of college or university for various reasons and not completing their degree. These reasons range from being unable to handle the course load to personal issues or not having enough time to dedicate to studies. The good news is that it is never too late to try again, and dropping out once doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to earn a degree. If you want to make a fresh start on your education but don’t know how the following tips can set you on the right path.

Figure Out What Made You Drop Out

Before returning to your studies, it is essential to determine the reasons why you dropped out previously. Doing so can help you to avoid ending up in the same situation again. According to the Education Data Initiative, up to 32.9% of undergraduates do not complete their degree program (, so you are not alone. Sometimes, the reasons are out of your control, such as a serious illness, injury, or family emergency. Other common reasons for dropping out range from high tuition costs to unclear career goals, a lack of preparation for college-level courses, or simply life responsibilities. Knowing your reason for dropping out will help you to avoid it happening again in the future.

Figure Out Why You Want To Try Again

Once you have pinpointed what made you drop out, you must determine your reasons for trying again. This is important as it will motivate you to complete your degree. Are you motivated to earn your degree due to the sense of accomplishment it will give you, or is it necessary for career advancement? Whatever your reasons for returning to college, you need to revisit them regularly to remind you why it is important to succeed this time.

Make Sure You Choose The Right College

Your college choice can significantly affect whether or not you succeed with your degree. Consider an online degree if transport or scheduling issues prevent you from returning to college. An online college is beneficial if you are already working or have other obligations that make a traditional college impractical. Certain degrees are also offered as hybrid programs where a portion of the work can be completed online instead of in person. If returning to your studies full-time is not an option, you can also consider doing it part-time to get started.

Check If You Can Transfer Credits

Starting from scratch can be daunting, but you might be able to transfer some of your previous credit. Some colleges provide students with an online transfer credit tool to help them estimate their transfer credit. If this is not an option, contact the college and discuss the possibility of potential transfer credit. Transfer credit means not having to start over from scratch and can also save you time and money in the process. The policies regarding transfer credits differ at each institution, so ensure you have all the information before making a decision. Some colleges even allow you to get transfer credits for work experience, which is excellent if you have already started your career.

Build Your Support Network

Depending on how long it has been since you dropped out of college, you will need a support network to ensure your return will be successful. Include friends in your support network, as they will be able to motivate you and cheer you on if you feel overwhelmed. A support network is even more critical if you return to college as an adult with a job and children. You might need friends or family to provide assistance with childcare while you study or an employer willing to be more flexible about your schedule at work. Getting a support network in place before returning to your studies can make a huge difference.

Get Your Finances In Order

Since many students drop out of college for financial reasons, it is vital to make sure you can afford to complete your degree. When considering options such as financial aid or student loans, ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions before making any commitments. If you are already working, find out if your employer offers tuition reimbursement, which is a great way of lowering the cost of your studies. Work out your budget and set up a financial plan before starting your studies to ensure you can afford it.


Dropping out of college can be very demotivating, but don’t let it deter you from trying again. Research has proven that learning not only empowers you but can also help advance your career and help you build your network ( According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, degree holders benefit from higher median usual weekly earnings as well as lower unemployment rates ( Earning a degree after dropping out can be a life-changing experience, so use the tips above to approach the process with a clear goal and understanding.

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