How did you overcome failure during your studies

Dropping out of studies - what you should know about dropping out of studies

Dropping out of studies is only recommended in the rarest of cases. We at have asked students about this topic. In this article we will give the voice of both people who dropped out and those who didn't. And we will inform you what you should be aware of in the event of a permanent dropout.

Reasons for dropping out

There are many reasons why students think about dropping out. These include, for example:

Overstrained with the subject matter, different expectations, personal circumstances, a shift in interests ... These are all legitimate reasons for dropping out and nowadays it is no longer the end of the world to drop out of your studies. This is what about 21% of all students do every year.

In which course of study do the fewest students hold out until the end and drop out prematurely?

In addition to the reason for dropping out, you can find out which subject group the students come from in the following statistics:

There are often several reasons for dropping out of a degree, as you can also see from the statistics. A good reason is the excessive demands on your studies. In fact, some studies are considered particularly demanding. Some prospective students may well ask themselves which is the most difficult course of study in Austria? The answer is quite individual, but if we go after the reason for the excessive demands (see statistics), medicine clearly takes first place, followed by law, technology studies and pedagogy.

In many situations there are opportunities to change something and still bring your studies to a successful conclusion. We met with former students and asked them about their decision to drop out. And we have met students who have overcome a crisis and have not given up their studies.

The decision is certainly not easy, but there are several difficult decisions in life. And you have to meet them and not delay any further. Get advice from the appropriate contact points, talk to parents and friends and then make a decision.

Cancel or not?
Pros and Cons

Pro drop-out - when studying doesn't make sense or is fun

Should I really drop out of my studies? This question may torment many and, in the worst case, lead to no result for a long time.
Jakob, Christina and Birgit have one thing in common - after long deliberation, they finished their studies and reoriented themselves. The reasons for dissatisfaction with their studies were very different. After many semesters of stomach ache and full of thoughts, they have decided to go down what they initially saw as a failure. But it wasn't like that.

Pro drop-out: if the content does not match your interests

"I actually noticed very quickly that I had chosen the wrong course of study," reports Jakob, "It didn't even take a semester." The orientation week and the first lectures were still exciting and interesting, but after a few weeks the curiosity was gone. "I chose law as my degree because I've always stood up for justice and thought that as a lawyer I could change something myself. In addition, the career and salary opportunities appealed to me. But when I attended the various seminars in the first semester "When we were taught how to write an expert opinion in a legally correct manner, I realized that this subject was the wrong choice," he reports in retrospect.

Still, Jakob dragged himself through his studies for several semesters. He didn't want to give up because dropping out of his studies was a personal failure. "At some point you will definitely have fun with the course content," he always told himself. But it didn't come to that and after four semesters full of stress, dissatisfaction and stomach ache, he finally dared to take the step and abandoned his studies.

Pro drop-out: if you are simply not a student

The decision to start studying was partly forced on Birgit by her parents. Another reason was the longing for something new and exciting. "I grew up in a small town in a ski and recreation area. Bigger cities were far away and accordingly I rarely got a taste of the big city," says Birgit.

Her parents run a small hotel and wanted their daughter to come out of the mountains and "study something real" in the city. Birgit then registered for business administration "because you can do so much with it". However, she never felt comfortable in the city, missed her friends and the peace and quiet of the mountains. "I just had to find out that I am not a guy for the big city and the big career. The course was far too theoretical for me, the city too narrow and I couldn't get on with many of my fellow students. But I didn't want to give up and talked myself into it that the problems will subside over time. Unfortunately, they got worse and worse, day and night I only thought about dropping out of my studies and got depression. "

In the end, Birgit is even undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment. Here she receives the help and the courage to admit to herself and her parents that she is simply not suitable for a degree. "Abort the studies and go back to my beloved mountains, that was the right decision."

For dropping out of your studies: if you had something else in mind

Christina provides another example. During her studies she had imagined something completely different. "I have to admit that I did not deal with the content of the course in great detail before starting my studies. 'Media and communication sciences' sounded like television, newspaper and radio to me. Writing articles, filming and editing television programs, that was what I had The course deals with topics such as social and media research, media education and social sciences, among other things. "

Not all lectures were of no interest to Christine, but she also couldn't get used to the career opportunities and so after long discussions with her parents and the psychological student counseling she decided to drop out of her studies.

Conclusion: dropping out of your studies - this is not the end of the world

In retrospect, our three sample people felt that dropping out of their studies was the right decision. They should just have done it earlier so as not to lose so much time. Also important: "Look around early for the right alternatives," advises Jakob. "When I made the decision that I wanted to quit my studies, I also started looking for other studies that would suit me better." To this end, he has attended various career fairs and has also taken advantage of the advice of various aid agencies.

Jakob is now studying political science with great satisfaction. This can also be used to change something. Christina has looked for another media degree and Birgit is doing an apprenticeship in her parents' hotel.

Contra dropping out of studies - not everything is unsolvable

A child and an account that was deeply in the red - these were almost the reasons for Johanna and Christoph to give up their studies. However, they did not surrender to their fate, but actively sought help and found a solution.

Contra dropping out of studies: if you can solve the problem

"It cost me a semester of time and a lot of effort, but it was definitely worth it," says Christoph looking back on the phase in which he wanted to drop out of his studies. The reason was financial problems into which he slipped through no fault of his own. First he broke his leg on a skiing holiday and had to pay considerable costs for it. And then his flat share dissolved and he couldn't find a new flat share, but had to move into a small apartment.

"My bank account, which was already deep in the red, and the higher rental costs, too, were unbearable for me. I couldn't live with this mountain of debt. The money that came in was gone within a few days and I produced more debts for the rest of the month. After all, I also had to eat and drink, "he reports. At some point the only way out was to drop out of studies and go to work in order to earn money. "Fortunately, I took advice from the Austrian Students' Union beforehand. They told me about various options for how I could get financial support, including from the social fund of the ÖH. That saved my studies".

Christoph received a subsidy for the rental costs and a one-off payment with which he could balance his account in such a way that the interest no longer eroded everything. Now he could concentrate on his studies again.

Contra dropping out of studies: if you can organize yourself differently

For Johanna, Max was the reason why she almost dropped out of her studies. She became pregnant in the middle of her studies, and her child was born in the penultimate semester. "Of course I was incredibly happy about my baby, but at the same time I was worried about how I should finish my studies. You can't just switch off a child like that for half the day and go to university during that time."

At first Johanna saw no other way out and wanted to break off her studies. Better to be there for the child in peace first, she would have got a job somehow later, she was sure of that. Or is there a way to combine children and studies? "I took advice from many institutions, went with a baby in my arms from the office of the Austrian Students' Union to the psychological student counseling and back again, made phone calls with the student aid authority and worked with my parents to create a plan on how it would work with the child and the successful graduation. "

It would not have worked without the support of her parents, Johanna knows that. Her mother moved in with her for two days a week in the small student apartment and took care of Max. "But the official advice centers were also very helpful. You can only advise every student in need to go there."

Conclusion: There are often possible solutions

Christoph and Johanna decided against dropping out of their studies because they were active and acted. If Christoph had surrendered to his debt fate and Johanna had only focused her life on Max, both of them would have missed interesting personal and professional development opportunities in the future because they did not have a degree. "Anyone who does not let themselves down, but pulls themselves up and fights against their problem, will emerge from the crisis doubly strengthened", Christoph is certain.

FAQ: What to watch out for when finishing your studies

But what if all else fails? Then that's the way it is and it's not a drama. In the following, we would like to answer important questions that you should know when dropping out of your studies. For example, the question arises whether the student grant has to be repaid if you drop out? Or what happens to health insurance? Are you lost to the job market if you drop out of your studies and which advice centers can you get help from? Here are the answers.

  • Should I really quit my studies?

    In the course of their studies, every student has doubts as to whether they should continue, whether they have chosen the right subject or should drop out. If you find yourself in this situation too, you should not make hasty decisions that you may later regret. Dropping out of your studies should be carefully considered and you should at least have a rough idea for a plan B up your sleeve. Perhaps our sample students who report dropping out or overcoming the crisis will help you.

    The final decision about dropping out can only be made by you alone. However, it makes sense to talk to the psychosocial counseling center at your university or to make an appointment with the student counseling service. There you can describe your doubts in a conversation and find out whether the study was really a bad decision for you, whether you are simply studying the wrong thing or are simply stuck in a life and meaning crisis. A conversation can serve as an eye opener and certainly help to make the right decision afterwards.

  • Are there advice centers for dropouts?

    For college dropouts or those who are thinking of dropping out, we recommend counseling to find out about alternatives. In addition to psychosocial counseling centers and student counseling at universities and technical colleges, educational counseling is also available. The latter are more independent and can provide you with information far beyond your studies. Educational counseling gives students dropping out information about any outstanding opportunities after dropping out. From entering professional life to starting an apprenticeship and continuing education measures, these counseling centers offer a comprehensive repertoire of opportunities for further careers.

    You can find contact points here:

  • Do I have to repay my study grant?

    If you drop out of your studies, you must inform the study grant authority as soon as possible if you are receiving study grants. This then decides whether and to what extent you have to repay the previously paid student grant.

    Those dropping out of studies who are unable to provide the required evidence of studies after dropping out must repay the entire amount of the study grant they received in the first semester. In some cases, only part of the amount received has to be repaid.

    To be on the safe side, you can inform yourself in advance and ask the responsible advisor what costs you may have to face.

  • What happens to my health insurance?

    Co-insurance applies in Austria up to the age of 27. This means that you are insured with your parents or grandparents up to the age of 27. Even if you drop out of your studies, this insurance cover remains. However, the prerequisite is that you do not earn more than 438.05 per month (minimum earnings limit 2018). If you earn more, your employer will automatically register with the regional health insurance fund.

    If you are already over 27 years old when you drop out of studies and take out a student health insurance plan, you will have to take out insurance yourself in this case. However, you will quickly face costs of over 400 euros.

    Another option is health insurance for low-wage earners (no more than EUR 438.05 per month). If you already have a job after your studies, even if it is only a part-time or mini-job, you can take advantage of this offer from the health insurance companies - it costs around 60 euros per month.

  • Are my parents obliged to pay me maintenance?

    Yes and no. In general, parents are obliged - if they are financially able - to pay maintenance to their children as long as they are still in education and cannot look after themselves. If you drop out of your studies, you are basically still financially dependent on your parents.

    However, this state does not last forever. Your parents are protected from artificially prolonging the maintenance obligation. So you are obliged to look for an apprenticeship or a job. Even if you complete your training, you will not be entitled to maintenance from your parents forever.

    The Federal Ministry of Economics, Family and Youth justifies this as follows:

    "After completing vocational training, a young person is fundamentally capable of self-sustaining. However, he must be given adequate time to find a suitable job. The young person loses his maintenance entitlement if he fails to take up reasonable gainful employment."

  • How do employers react to dropping out?

    There are no uniform reactions. But: Your résumé is a matter of interpretation. If you can reasonably justify your dropping out of your studies, this "flaw" in your résumé will certainly not be a problem. On the contrary: employers can rate your studies positively, even if it was canceled prematurely. After all, it always takes courage to break off, and you have shown it. In addition, you show the will to take a new path in life.

    It becomes difficult if you do not have a credible justification to hand that plausibly explains to your future employer why you decided to drop out of your studies. Arguments like "lack of motivation", "no desire" or "too strenuous" should be avoided. This makes you seem less resilient and in the worst case even lazy - and very few people want to hire such an employee. The best thing to do is to play through the situation with a friend in advance and prepare a few arguments so as not to skid during the actual conversation.

  • Can I have a career without studying?

    A degree is no guarantee for a steep career.Conversely, a missing degree does not mean that a successful professional life is excluded. How your career goes is ultimately up to you. But there are enough prominent examples that prove that dropping out of university does not mean the end of your career. As an example, here are some prominent names you know for sure and who dropped out of college.

    Werner Faymann, Austrian Chancellor: Studied law in Vienna for four semesters and then devoted himself to politics. He didn't graduate.

    Gwyneth Paltrow, actress: Tried studying art history for a year, but then returned to acting.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook inventor: Instead of studying, he preferred programming. In his mid-twenties he was already a billionaire and has not yet graduated from university.

    Brad Pitt, actor: Studied journalism and advertising in Missouri for two years and then, very successfully, devoted himself to Hollywood.

    Steve Jobs († 2011), Apple founder: Had little desire to devote himself to his studies and preferred to set up his own company during that time.

    Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder: At 19, he dropped out of mathematics and founded Microsoft. In 2007 Harvard awarded him an honorary diploma despite the lack of a degree.

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