Thinking about dropping out?

If you’re feeling like you want to drop out, it's probably for one of these common reasons. But first, it's a good idea to consider these questions before making any big decisions.

This can help if:

  • You're in school or tertiary education
  • You feel like you can’t cope
  • You feel overwhelmed by the workload
  • You have too much stuff on
  • You don’t think school or tertiary education is for you
blurry couple on train platform

Not for everyone

School and higher education isn’t for everyone. Whether it’s to do with your learning style or is related to something bigger, dropping out sometimes seems like the only option. And sometimes it is the best option. You can't always be sure, so it helps to really think about your reasons first.

What are your reasons?

“I feel like I can’t cope” 

Coping with all the stuff that’s going on in your life isn’t easy. Adding school and uni to the mix can sometimes be the thing that tips you over and makes you feel like it’s all too hard. Chat to someone about how you’re feeling and see if there’s any way of lightening your load might put you back in control.

“I’m overwhelmed by the workload”

Some teachers and lecturers are really enthusiastic about giving heaps of stuff to do. Though this can be a great way of cramming heaps of knowledge into your brain, it can also make you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of work. If you feel like the workload is more than you can handle, dropping out isn’t your only option.

Have a chat to others in your class and see how they’re going, make a meeting with your teacher/lecturer and express your concerns. Talking about it lets others know you’re not coping and might give others permission to do the same.

“I have too much stuff on”

It’s easy to overcommit. Often you just forget to say no to things and all of a sudden you have a diary that looks like highlighter heaven with more activities than hours in the day. Even though it’s tempting to just drop everything and run, there are a couple of ways you can get your life back in order without dropping out. The first step is identifying your priorities, and then you just need to work your schedule around what’s important to you, instead of prioritising what’s important to others.

“It just isn’t for me”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling like you’re just not made for education. Everyone has talents and sometimes exams, studying or essay writing just doesn’t sit well with you. Though there are legal reasons you might have to stick it out with school, higher ed is an option that you don’t have to pursue if it’s not working out. Getting a job or starting an apprenticeship are equally valuable options.

Some questions to ask yourself

Even though it can be tempting to just throw it all in and give up, it’s worthwhile thinking carefully about your decision as it’s hard to reverse. Questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to drop out?
  • Is the reason you want to drop out something you can fix? If you could change it, would you be willing to stick it out?
  • What are the positives and negatives of dropping out?
  • What would the consequence of dropping out be?
  • Do you have a plan for what you’re going to do if you drop out?
  • What can you do to support yourself through this time?
  • Who can you talk to about this?


Studying isn’t for everyone, but before you make the big decision to drop out, it’s worth thinking of your reasons and the consequences of doing it. Making a plan for after you drop out is important - you don’t want to suddenly feel like you have nothing to do or nowhere to go. Counsellors, teachers, friends and parents are all good people to talk to if you feel like you’re at risk of dropping out. 

If your reasons for wanting to give up are more complex or have to do with your self-confidence, check out our 'How to build self-confidence' fact sheet or our 'Developing positive coping strategies' fact sheet for some more info.

What can I do now?

  • Find out more about how to make sound decisions.
  • Make a plan for what you’d do if you were to drop out.
  • Write up a list about pros and cons of dropping out.
Last reviewed: 06 November, 2015
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