Home Student & Career Tips 6 Major Causes of Students Dropout From University

6 Major Causes of Students Dropout From University

Students drop out from university for numerous reasons. This article contains information on some of the major causes.

Causes Of Students To Dropout From University
This article will give you insight on some of the causes of student’s dropout from school

As much as it is the desire of many students to graduate from the University with good grades, not many of such students actually get to graduate from the University because they dropped out.

Prior to this time, dropping out of school was a thing of shame, students who eventually drop out of school did so quietly but in recent times, the reverse has become the it. It is no longer news that students dropout of school on a daily basis and sometimes we are left to wonder why?

Well, there are many reasons why students drop out from College/ University. Oftentimes, unforeseen circumstances are the major cause of this menace.

In this article, we will dissect the causes of students dropping out from the University, but before then, an understanding of the fact that dropping out from the University doesn’t equate to being a failure will go a long way to change your mind about those who choose to drop out from school.

Delving into the topic, there are many individual and collective causes of dropping out from the University. Here are some of the causes;

1. Financial Problems

123Helpme.com [1] states that College education is expensive and the cost is increasing year by year.

One of the major causes of a student’s dropout from college is financial challenges. Going to college is so expensive that not everyone can afford it. Asides the tuition fees, there are a whole lot of other expenses attached such as accommodation, feeding, study materials and lots more. These and more contribute to making education quite expensive. 

Many students tend to drop out when they can no longer meet up with these expenses. To avoid this, it is important to make adequate financial plans before proceeding to college. You can either apply for scholarships [6] or work while schooling. Sometimes, the processes involved in securing a scholarship may be discouraging but it’s worth it. There are different types of scholarships [4] you can apply for. It all depends on your choice and need.

On the other hand, working alongside schooling can be a distraction. What some people do is to work and save enough funds for their education before setting out to the University.

2. Unpreparedness

As the saying goes, “failure to plan is planning to fail”. University life is a different ball game from Secondary school. There is more work to be done in this academic phase and only those who are ready get to scale through. A Lot of students who drop out from college didn’t do so because of financial challenges which has been identified to be the major cause of dropping out from university, but as a result of unpreparedness for college life. 

High School/ Secondary is expected to prepare students for easy transition to the University but there are students who are not properly groomed for life after highschool. Such students tend to get overwhelmed by University life and activities. For those who can’t cope, dropping out becomes the next option.

One way to avoid this is to ensure that the student is prepared and ready in all ramifications for University life. Taking a gap year [6] after Secondary school helps instead of rushing into the University immediately after graduation from secondary School. Apart from preparing you for University life, there are numerous advantages of gap year for students [7]

3. Wrong Choice Of Course

You might be wondering how this can cause a student to drop out. Well, don’t overthink it. Oftentimes, many students get into the university for the wrong reasons. Some go to University either as an escape from parent’s overprotectiveness or to avoid feeling left out due to peer pressure. In cases like this, they can accept any course just to achieve this.

I had a friend who accepted a German course he had little or no passion for in the bid to get away from home. Sadly, he dropped out when reality dawned on him.

Understanding that you have chosen the wrong course, can be a very good reason for dropping out from the University. 

University is a great place to learn about yourself, and if a student discovers that they are studying the wrong degree, it can lead to them dropping out.

To avoid choosing the wrong course, when deciding what you want to study you should spend time thinking about and trying to understand what you enjoy and will be happy doing every day. Avoid following the crowd and picking a degree for the sake of it. This would have also been my case if I had proceeded to accept Nursing science. There are always signs to show you have chosen or on the path to choose a wrong course. Here are some of the signs [3].

Moreso, you don’t always have to drop out for choosing a wrong course, a change of course especially in the first year is the way to go. All you need to do is communicate with the right authorities in your school for the requirements. Apart from changing of course, here are other things to do upon realizing you chose a wrong course [5].

4. Difficulty In Having a Work-study Balance

According to a study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [2], “the main reason why students dropped out of college in 2009 was this conflict of interest between school, the job, and the family.”

Working while in school can be quite overwhelming and daunting for a lot of people. Many students who dropout of University did so because they have to work while enrolled in University. It takes a student with strong time management skills and support from loved ones to scale successfully.

To avoid dropping out of school for this reason, it is best to get a flexible job, preferably online jobs [8] that are not so time consuming. Another way is to work for a period of time, save enough money before enrolling into University.

5. Unforseen Life Situations 

As the saying goes, “man proposes but God disposes” Unfortunately, we may have beautiful plans on how we want our lives to play out, but as life may dictate, there are unforeseen life situations that can thwart these plans, leading to students dropping out of university.

Situations like sickness, death of a loved one, unwanted pregnancy (for ladies) and lots more, can contribute to why a student may be compelled to relinquish his or her college education for the time being.

We have little or no control over this cause because life is full of miseries.

6. Social Life At University

Campus life is one thing a lot of students are eager to experience because it gives them the leverage to explore while being controlled by their parents.

Oftentimes, many students are not prepared for this new freedom and as such get carried away by the social life. When this overindulgence happens, most students get distracted and are unable to keep up with their academics. This sometimes leads to poor performance and subsequently, dropping out.


Over the years, dropping out from the University has become a norm. Of course, the causes are not far fetched. Most of the reasons to drop out of university revolve around financial challenges and lack of support. In other cases, it can be caused by unforeseen circumstances such as death of sponsors and ill health. Therefore, to avoid dropping out of University, it is advisable to make adequate and sustainable financial plans before entry into the University.


[1] “Education Is Expensive and the Cost.” 123helpme.com, 20 Dec. 2018, https://www.123helpme.com/essay/Education-Is-Expensive-And-The-Cost-682110.

[2] “New Report Illuminates America’s ‘Silent’ Dropout Epidemic– Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, https://www.gatesfoundation.org/ideas/media-center/press-releases/2006/03/americas-silent-dropout-epidemic. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.

[3] Oparah, Chioma. “11 Signs You Are Studying the Wrong Course.” Explore the Best of East Africa, Eafinder, 20 Sept. 2021, https://www.eafinder.com/signs-you-are-studying-the-wrong-course/.

[4] Push, Amanda. “8 Types of Scholarships for Students.” College Ave, College Ave Student Loans, 16 Mar. 2022, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.collegeavestudentloans.com/blog/breaking-down-types-of-scholarships/amp/.

[5] Royale, Oxford. “7 Things You Can Do If You Picked the Wrong Degree.” Oxford Royale Academy, 9 Jan. 2021, https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/wrong-degree/.

[6] Wikipedia contributors. “Scholarship.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarship

[7] Pacificdiscovery.org, https://www.pacificdiscovery.org/helpful-info/blog/gap-year-benefits/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.

[8] Upwork.com, https://www.upwork.com/resources/online-jobs-for-students. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.

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