University drop-out rates: Have you thought about them like this?

FACT: 1 in 5 students will drop out of university before the end of their first year (September, 2016).

While it would be beyond naive of me to suggest that the reasons for dropping out are common to all, it would be outright blind of me to ignore the fact that clear trends do exist.

The major battle aka the first trend we are fighting here is obvious. It’s a battle that colours every facet of life. It’s the battle of the structural factors: low SES, part-time study, languages other than English.

Sitting beside this battle however is a slightly more win-able war, or what I like to call the second trend. It’s a war of stereotypes. Many of us have led ourselves to believe that we should let our ‘dream career’ (whatever that is) pick our university course for us.

But what if I told you that that dream career may not exist at the time of your enrolment. Or that it is predicted that you will have an average of five ‘dream careers’ over your lifetime. Still looking like the best way to choose a course? Perhaps not.

University is demanding. Motivation is key. Success depends on it. The motivation i’m talking about here extends far beyond having the sense to turn up to class. It’s the perseverance to study for hours on end in preparation for your exam. It’s the determination to find the best articles for your next essay. It’s the craving to explore content beyond the recommended readings and it’s the passion that drives you to apply your learnings to the real world.

To expect anyone to study a subject they aren’t interested in for a day, let alone for years, is in my eyes, an impossible ask. By doing so, we are not only nudging students towards but literally pushing them off the edge of the drop-out cliff.

So let’s forget perfect and start with the possible. Let’s focus on what we can change. Let’s start educating students on the fact that University is an environment in which they can not only celebrate but strengthen their interests. It’s an environment in which we learn how to learn, so why not study something you love?

It’s up to you to spread the word. If you know someone, anyone trying to choose a course to study, encourage them to search via interest. Encourage them to use the course resource*.

The Course Resource by projectHUNI allows students to search for their course via interest rather than the narrow criteria of ATAR and institution.