Dropped out of College? The Safest Way to Tell your Parents

Dropping out of College is not an easy decision. If you pulled it off, you deserve a medal. The next step of telling your parents you dropped out of college is equally not an easy decision.

If you are unlucky to have hardcore parents who don’t believe in life without a University degree, don’t worry. I was in your exact situation a few years ago and I conquered it.

I’m here to give you the golden tips that sailed me through the tough situation successfully. You’ll realize that your situation can be a walk over if you get things right.

Let’s talk a bit about our parents…

It is normal to be scared of telling your parents that you dropped out of college. Some parents raise children with threats, which make children scared of opening up when they need to.

A serious decision like dropping out of college should be one that parents and the child sit down and reason out. But the sad truth is that in most families, such a discussion will only end up in scolding of the child.

If that is your case, I’m sorry. I went through the same; my dad was a University lecturer and there was no way on earth to convince him that life can go on without a University degree.

I dropped out of University and stayed for two years without my dad knowing. The thought of breaking such news to him was scary but I knew that eventually he must know.

I won’t go into detail about the drama that ensued. If you would like to read about the drama, get it in this eBook (Link opens in new tab) that narrates my story of how I dropped out of college.

Factors to consider before telling your Parents you dropped out

How long you have been out of College

The best time to tell your parents that you dropped out of school was the day you dropped out. The second best time is now.

In other words, the earlier you break the news to your parents, the less explosive it will be. It is like when a girl cheats on his boyfriend and gets pregnant; the earlier she opens up, the better.

Unfortunately, we are wired to believe that hiding the ‘breaking news’ is better. We foolishly hope that everything will sort itself.

For two years, I was not attending classes in college yet my dad was paying tuition fee and my upkeep. I had come up with a clever system that kept the news secret.

But with each passing day, I knew I was running out of time. I knew that when the time I was to graduate would come, my dad would definitely know I dropped out.

I didn’t want my dad to learn of the news himself; I wanted to be the one to tell him.

No matter the time that you dropped out, stop postponing telling your parents the truth. The longer you hold it, the worse it becomes.

If you tell them today, their reaction, no matter how dramatic, will be better than if you tell them tomorrow. In the end, if things are meant to go bad, they will. If you wait, you only make them worse.

Reason for Dropping out

I’m sure you didn’t drop out because of health related issues; that is a strong reason that no parent should ignore. But if you dropped out just because you hated college, you have a reason to be skeptical in telling your parents.

A stronger reason for dropping out will always make breaking the news to your parents easier. The more confidence you have in your reason for dropping out, the more confidence you will have in telling your parents the truth.

If your hands were chopped off and you could no longer write, I don’t think there is a parent who would insist that you stay in college. But if you want to be a freelancer and you don’t see the need of a University degree, your parents don’t see that; they’ll need thorough convincing.

Before we go any further, I want you to know that your main reason for dropping out plays a crucial role in helping you break the news of dropping out of college to your parents.

Nature of your Parents

This is common sense. If your parents are hardcore believers in university education, you will have a hard time convincing them to let you pursue your dreams without a university degree.

I’m sure you are scared of telling your parents you dropped out of University because you know their nature. You know just how bad things can get if you break the news to them.

I witnessed my dad beat up one of my cousins for refusing to go to school while I was young. How on earth was I supposed to approach my dad and tell him the very thing my cousin was beaten up for?

I don’t know how hostile your parents are, which makes this case difficult. I don’t want to tell you to go ahead and tell them only for your hands to be chopped off.

Some parents are brutal even to their children, I can’t deny that fact. But I have an idea of how you can go about it even if your parents are more terrifying than a serial killer.

How to tell your Parents you dropped out of University in 3 steps

Establish your reason

There is no way out of this situation without a concrete reason. The good thing is that even if you don’t have a strong reason why you dropped out of college, you can find one.

How, you ask…?

By strengthening any of the weak reasons you have, I say.

When I dropped out of college, I had a host of reasons but all of them were terribly weak. How could I tell my dad that I dropped out of college because I broke up with a girl and I could no longer sit in the same class with her?

But if I framed that reason into ‘psychological stress’, I could easily put up a strong argument. In my argument, I would mention things like ‘how can I go back to class when my mind is stressed?’

And if I am asked what is stressing me, I would say ‘I am stressed by everything’.

The point here is that you strengthen the reasons that made you drop out. If you dropped out and you want to be a freelancer, go ahead and start your freelancing work.

Go to your parents with statistics of your freelance work and show them why you think it is better to pursue freelancing than sitting in a University class.

It should not be hard to convince average parents when you have a good reason backed up with facts.

Choose an opportune time

You may have the strongest reason no one who ever dropped out of college had but if you don’t know how to present it, you won’t get what you want.

In planning to present your case before your parents, make sure you get them at their weakest. For example, if you dropped out because of financial reasons, you can start a side hustle. Then wait for the time your parents are ranting about how tough economic times have become then tell them about your decision.

You can start by mentioning the side hustle that you do. Bring out the optimistic side of your gig. Give relevant examples of people who have made it doing the gig you are pursuing.

Then you can slide in the killer statement. You can say something in the lines of ‘I decided to pay more attention to my gig because of the potential I saw in it.’

If you can get to that point, saying you dropped out of college won’t be hard. Also, your parents will less likely fume at you because of how reasonable you are.

It is even better if you can offer your parents some form of relief. For example, you can tell them you are making enough money from your gig to cater for your basic needs and if they give you time you will be able to move out.

If your parents are reasonable, they will buy into your idea.

Substitute College for your Reason

If you are really scared of your parents, you can say you took a break from college to focus on learning a particular skill of your choice.

When you say you took a break, it sounds less harmful than if you directly say you dropped out. In such a case, parents won’t be sure if you dropped out or not but they will have a clue that you are not in school anymore.

With this method, you can buy enough time to get footing in whatever venture you preferred to pursue. As your venture gets stronger, so does your reason to stay away from college.

The other advantage of this method is that the longer you stay out of college, the stronger your reasons to be out of college become.

3 things to expect after you break the news to your parents

No matter the nature of your parents, when you break news to them that you dropped out of college, their reaction can be predicted. You may not predict their reaction with dead accuracy but it is not hard to get close.

The advantage of predicting the reaction of your parents when you break the news of dropping out of University to them is that you can plan on your moves beforehand.

If you are pretty sure your parents may cut you off financially, you can find a friend who will accommodate you just in case what you anticipate comes to pass.

Let’s look at the most likely reactions and what best you can do in each case.

Fine, do as you want

This is definitely the answer every college dropout hopes to receive from his parents when he breaks the news of dropping out of college to them.

If you get this type of response, be careful to pursue your reason for dropping out of college. In most cases, parents will be fine with you dropping out of college because they ‘don’t care’ about your academics.

While parents not bothering about your academics gives you freedom, it comes with a huge responsibility. If you are not careful, you may fail to take responsibility and end up miserably.

If you dropped out of college to become a freelancer, make sure you have a clear cut strategy on how you will succeed with your freelancing.

Some parents who tell you to do as you want will not condone failure from you. If they were paying for your college fee and you tell them you dropped out, they will stop paying for it and will not expect you to ever go back to them to ask them to fund you in case you want to go back to college some time later.

Therefore, as desirable as this answer from your parents is, don’t be fooled. Pay attention to the responsibility that comes with it.

Pure Silence

If you tell your parents that you dropped out of college and they don’t say anything, chances are that your parents are shocked but they are wise enough to withhold any reaction until they think through it.

The best step to take if your parents hear you but don’t reply is to continue pursuing whatever made you drop out of college. That is why it is important to have a good reason for dropping out.

People who don’t have a reason for dropping out will have a hard time knowing what to do if their parents keep quiet after learning that their child dropped out of College.

Most likely, your parents will think about the news you gave them and get back to you. There should be no cause for alarm.

You can read my eBook (Link opens in new tab) to see how my dad reacted when I told him that I had dropped out of college two years before.

No, you must go back to College

This is the most frequent answer that parents give when they learn that their child dropped out of college. If you get it, don’t worry; it is common to many.

If your parents instantly cut you off and insist you must go back to college, don’t say anything. You will be tempted to fight back but don’t.

Whatever they say, just listen. Only speak if they directly ask you a question but still try to be as brief and vague as possible.

The golden rule if your parents are forcing you to go back to college is to buy time. In that moment, both of you will be emotional and nothing good can come out of your conversation.

Read more about what to do if your parents are forcing you to go to college (Link opens in new tab) in the article I have linked to.

I hope you will find a solution to your dilemma.

All the best!

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