Living Life After Dropping Out


(Graphic by Grey Leman)

(Graphic by Grey Leman)
(Graphic by Grey Leman)

Every year, high school seniors enter college as eager freshmen. For some, however, that eagerness does not last.
Nearly half of undergraduate students drop out of college, according to a Harvard study.
Charles Duffy, 23, used to attend the U but said he eventually dropped out because he was going into debt.
“I wanted to be an architect and change the world,” Duffy said. “I just didn’t realize that that meant spending over $30,000 a year.”
The Office of Admissions provides information about the cost of attending the U. On average, in-state students should budget about $25,000 a year and out-of-state students are looking at a little more than $42,000.
The costs associated with achieving a higher education have been on the rise for years. As of March 2014, the Board of Regents at the Utah State Capitol approved a tuition increase across many of Utah’s higher institutions. The U specifically saw a tuition increase of 5.8 percent.
Duffy said he stayed in Utah for school because Utah has one of the country’s lowest tuition costs, yet he still found it difficult to afford.
“Everything was fine at first — I had saved up money from working part time and could afford classes,” he said. “But once I realized that tuition was going to increase, college wasn’t really something I could do anymore.”
After dropping out during his sophomore year, Duffy worked various jobs.
“I worked as a bartender, waiter, receptionist and mail carrier,” he said. “Those jobs paid for my rent and gave me some freedom to pursue other interests. More than anything, I wanted to find something stable where I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck. The downside is that most of the places I was looking at either required a college degree or the equivalent in the field experience. I had neither.”
Amanda Simmons, 21, said she moved to Utah after reading several articles claiming Salt Lake City was a thriving area for young adults.
“I am the stereotypical 20-something,” Simmons said. “I am young, ambitious and don’t have a college education, but I am determined to make it work.”
Simmons said she started studying anthropology at the University of Michigan but left just after starting her freshman year. She moved to Salt Lake City with the goal of starting her own business.
“I make custom jewelry that is just so different from everything else on the market,” she said. “Right now I am selling at art shows, farmers markets and pretty much anywhere. I’ve seen a lot of growth and interest. I think the next step will be to expand to a permanent space and make a website to reach more people.”
The Office of Admissions at the U reported an 88 percent freshmen retention rate for the last academic year, meaning 12 percent of freshmen were dropouts. This data, however, only represents freshmen and sophomores, as those are the two most common years students drop out.
Simmons said she does not have plans to return to school.
“I know people say college is where you find who you want to be, but I don’t think that was the case for me,” Simmons said. “While I think education is important, I don’t think going to school is the only way to do that.”
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