College Dropout and Proud of it

You may have noticed the lack of posts here over the past few months.  At least I hope you did!  The reason, as explained in my last Newsletter, was that I had something to do that would require all of my focus outside of work and family.

I went back to college.

Not physically of course.  I enrolled for the fall semester at Memorial University in order to take the first course towards a bachelor’s degree in Maritime Studies.  I figured if I took two courses per term then I could complete the entire program over the next two years.  So I signed up for step one in order to test the waters and see how I could incorporate these studies into my every day life.

And it turns out that I couldn’t.

I threw in the towel last week and while there were a number of reasons for the decision it really boiled down to the following:

Time Vs. Quality

Specifically, a lack of the former and a need to maintain the latter.

Prior to starting the course I was posting here weekly.  Additionally I was (and still am) part of a committee that is developing a guidance document for the marine industry.  And all while working the same amount, which is a lot.  After starting the course I wasn’t able to continue posting here (which was a conscious decision), and the committee work had to take a back burner in favor of meeting the class deadlines.

On top of that I was developing a presentation to deliver at a local conference (which went very well, thanks for asking!).

Work and the quality of what I deliver has to come first and we were coincidentally very busy last month, with a number of multi-day inspections completed that didn’t leave much in the tank for getting the school work done.  The alternative would have been to let the quality of my professional work suffer – which isn’t even an option.

Looking back it is pretty obvious that I bit off more than I could chew.  This was on purpose as I wanted to push the limit, but the limit ended up pushing back.

ROI vs. Satisfaction

I really enjoy writing for this website.  It allows me to explore ideas and topics that otherwise have no outlet.  And I can do it on a much smaller daily time commitment while still meeting my self imposed deadlines.

Going into the correspondence course I thought that I would be able to pull that same level of satisfaction from it, but this was not the case unfortunately.  Writing what you want is far different than writing what you are told.

Finally, I have a hard time seeing what the return on investment will be in the end.  After all, I’ve made it this far without a degree!  This may sound flippant but the industry I work in has a large number of very successful people in it who don’t have degrees.

And why do we get a degree in the first place?  Especially considering that over half of people with degrees don’t work in their field of study.  We get one as a right of passage.  To show that you have the grit to stick with it.  Having worked for years to earn my Master Mariners license I would feel comfortable arguing that point if required.

Considering that I could apply the cost of this program towards shorter, more intensive certifications and training, and that I am already in a great place with my career, in the end I just couldn’t see the benefit.

Lessons Learned

While I didn’t complete the course I did still learn some valuable lessons from it.  I learned that your extra curricular activities need to motivate you.  I learned that my actual priorities were perhaps not in line with what I thought they were.  And I learned more about APA style formatting than I ever hope to use again!

I’m back now and the regularly scheduled programming will continue.  My horizons have been expanded and I’ve got a fistful of new ideas that I am excited about exploring with you.

So what do you think?  Smart move or cop out?  Because from where I am sitting it looks like the best decision I’ve made all year.


5 thoughts on “College Dropout and Proud of it

  1. Smart move! Trying to juggle coursework with an occupation, as well as other commitments and have a social life is difficult to put into terms. Until you experienced that and realised it wasn’t for you.
    It is easy to weigh up time and consider success in other parts of your life and feel like you can easily transfer it to another subject, certificate, degree or anything. There has to be a reward though and if you feel like you cannot whole heartedly commit without effecting other areas of your life, or career, in my opinion you made the correct decision.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I certainly would have regretted never trying it on for size, and the experience was definitely a net positive. Sometimes you just never know until you stick your neck out.

  3. From Personal experience I did a Degree because after years of studying, not studying was a “hole” in my life. So I took on Open University. I agree it is hard work and directly impacted my lifestyle. For me I tailored the course to include subjects I felt would improve me as a Manager (lots of systems analysis and Professional decision making; all riveting stuff).
    There were times I wanted to stop but I also had to finish and that turned out to be the stronger drive. Do I use my degree other than on my CV, not really, Do I think you made a bad decision, no I think you made the right decision for you.

  4. I can absolutely understand that Colin as I went through a similar period. This time round however was more a challenge in maximizing my output and productivity, but it started to eat into the effectiveness of my primary task, which is my work. Dropping out wasn’t an easy decision to make but was an incredible relief once done.

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