Dropping out of college happens more often than you think. It’s not necessarily a bad decision, and for some, it’s the best decision they could make. Before you drop out, though, it’s important to know how to drop out of college the right way.

Not preparing ahead of time could leave you with bills you didn’t expect, an unflattering transcript, and more trouble ahead as you move on to the next steps in your life.

Here are the 7 steps you must take if and when you decide to drop out of college

1. Think about your Decision Wisely Including your Next Steps

Before you drop out of college, make sure you’ve thought of all of your options. Think about whether going part-time will help your situation or if you’re dropping out for other reasons. Ask yourself why and think of any solutions.

Talk about your decision with family and friends too. You never know when someone may have a suggestion that will work better for you such as going part-time, taking a temporary hiatus, or switching schools.

If you’ve explored all of your options and decided that dropping out is still the right thing to do, continue with the following steps.

2. Consider Withdrawing versus Not Going

This is a step may college students miss when they decide college isn’t right for them. Whether you graduate or not, you’ll have a transcript that will follow you possibly for the rest of your life. Depending on what you plan to do with your career, you may come across employers that want your transcript.

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You may even decide later in life that you want to go back to college, which will make your transcript even more important.

If you just stop going, you’ll likely have ‘F’s’ on your transcript. They probably won’t help you achieve your goals. Instead, try to finish out the semester you’re in, squeaking by with at least ‘C’s’ so you can avoid the ‘F’ on your transcript and increase your chances of future success.

*If you withdraw early enough in the semester, you may be able to get a ‘W’ on your transcript versus an ‘F’ which may allow you to withdraw early without penalty.

3. Give your Written Notice

Much like you’d do at a job, you should give your university notice that you’ll be leaving. There isn’t a specific amount of time you should give them, but as soon as you’ve decided to leave, put it in writing and send it to your advisor.

You might have to complete formal paperwork or even talk to your advisor, so prepare yourself for what lies ahead. They’ll likely talk to you about your reasons, which is why step 1 is so important too.

You’ll get a final count of what you might owe for the remaining time you’re there or what steps you must take to leave, including what date you must be out of the dorm if you’re on school housing.

4. Sell your Textbooks with Bookscouter.com

You’ve invested the money in your textbooks, so you might as well try and get top dollar for them when you decide you’re done.

Holding onto them won’t give you any value, but selling your textbooks with Bookscouter gives you the chance to make the most for your books. With 30+ vendors available to compete for your sale, you’ll get multiple offers for the books you have to sell, which can help you cover the cost of any remaining expenses you didn’t cover yet.

5. Finalize the Numbers

Unlike a job, you can’t just pick up and leave college because you might have unpaid expenses still lingering.

When you talk to your advisor, you’ll find out the process to close out your account and take care of any unpaid expenses. This is especially important if you have any scholarships or grants. You might have to pay some of it back if you didn’t fulfill the full obligations or you might have to start paying back student loans sooner than you thought.

This step can be scary, but it’s important to know where you stand before you leave so you can prepare yourself financially.

6. Take Advantage of any Refunds

You might not just face bills due – there may be some refunds in your future if you drop out of college. 

Your advisor can help you determine if there are any tuition refunds due to you for tuition you already paid for, especially if you leave in the middle of a semester. You may also receive housing refunds, again, if you leave in the middle of a semester or if you made any deposits for future years. 

7. Find out How to Close out your Housing

Whether you lived on campus or off, you may have security deposits to get back, cleaning fees to pay, or damage to take care of. Talk to the person in charge of your housing to determine what you must do.

They will also tell you what date you need to be out of the housing and how to return the keys when you leave college. Before you give your notice, consider looking around your dorm or apartment and taking care of any repairs or cleanliness issues that could result in more financial damage before letting them know you’re leaving.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to drop out of college is a mature decision. If college isn’t right for you, then there are other opportunities out there for you. The key is knowing how to drop out of college the right way, so you don’t get penalized financially and/or on your transcripts.

Talk over the idea with as many people as you can to get ideas and support as you transition to your next steps in life. It’s not an easy decision to make, but for many, it’s the best decision as they move on to their next chapter.