Dropping out of university was one of the most painful things I experienced. And I am not alone. It is said that only 15% of people who start university end up graduating.This a very alarming rate. What does this means for those who drop out? They are faced with challenges like unemployment, and others are highly likely to turn to crime.

This is what happened to me: I started getting depressed, I felt ill, and I got admitted to hospital. I was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder. I took a leave of absence in the second semester. The next year I attempted to return university, but NFSAS withdrew its funding for me, as I had failed most of my modules.So I had to drop out.

I was heartbroken that my academic journey was cut short. I was forced to have a default gap year; on top of that I incurred a debt and owed the university money.

But I did not give up. I spent the last three months of the year volunteering at Community Connections. This helped me to be able to apply for other opportunities. I spent time applying for various universities, doing job applications and learnerships. I then applied for the Year Beyond program which I found by looking at the Western Cape Government site for opportunities. I was accepted for to be part the Year beyond programme.

It was a great experience. I learned a lot of things, I did tutoring, and was part of the innovation challenge which required us to come up with solutions to the culture of learning in South Africa. Moreover, after I finished with volunteering with the Year Beyond program, I was appointed as a field worker for two months for research conducted by World Bank and the Western Cape government.

After that, I got involved with tutoring work at Beautiful Gate South Africa. I was tutoring kids, helping them with Maths and English. It was a great experience. We did recreational activities like going out to Oudekraal Beach as staff, and had fun together. One memorable experience I had,is when we had a volunteer’s appreciation ceremony and I performed Beyoncé’s Ave Maria. It was a great experience to share my talent with my colleagues.

We were given awards and a gift of a personalised cup with our names on it. I love my gift and I believe it is the most precious gift to have. After I was done volunteering for Beautiful Gate South Africa, I spent time applying for various job applications. I got accepted for an internship at FunDza. I was very happy to get this opportunity. I believe it is my time to learn new things and gain new skills.

Having have shared my story about dropping out, here are my tips for surviving dropping out. my message to you is, dropping out is not the end of the world. Never give up on your goals and dreams.

Tips to survive dropping out:
1. Never give up.
2. Get involved.
3. Look out for new opportunities.
4. Network.
5. Try again.
6. Never give up

I just want to say it’s understandable that you had to drop out for various reasons. But my encouragement to you is to never give up on your goals and dreams.

Get Involved
One of the important things to do as a drop-out is not to sit at home and do nothing, or have no prospects at all. My advice to you is to get involved in volunteering. There are lots of volunteering organisations that need people such as Help2read, Year Beyond,Beautiful Gate South Africa – and many more. In volunteering you gain a lot of valuable skills. It also makes your CV look good to your prospective employers. Sometimes you might even be offered a job by the people you volunteer for, or meet others who may be able to open doors for you.

Look out for new opportunities
There are lots of opportunities that you need to look for – not only volunteering. Look out for job websites, and look for internships and learnerships. There is always something you can find to keep you busy. If you can’t find a formal learnership, find a business or organisation you admire and ask if you can help them for free for a short time. One important quality to have as a person is to have initiative and drive. Be willing to put your best foot forward.

The word network is important. One of the reasons that make networking important is that it connects you with people, and this can help you find positions and opportunities you didn’t know about. You can also get advice, and learn from people with more experience than you. You learn something new and get ideas about a lot of different things. This is also why volunteering can pay off in the long run because you meet a lot of different people and it increases your network.

Try Again.
Depending on why you dropped out, it may be that you should consider going back to university, even if it means doing a different degree. But this time around make sure you do your best to succeed. It may be that you learnt that university is not for you. But it’s always important to dream a new dream.

Tell Us: How have you dealt with dropping out of school?