Dropping out of college due to mental health (a complete guide)

In this guide, we will discuss why students are dropping out of college due to mental health, the option of dropping out, and how to improve your mental health.

College and Mental health

College is a real set up than school in terms of education level, amount of work that needs to be put in, and the type of learning environment it has. But along with all its glory, college is a place that can affect a person’s mental health. From so much to study, being away from friends and family, and trying to fit into a new place, can get quite tough.

Dropping out of college due to mental health

Sometimes mental health problems can get too much for any person and dropping out of college seems like a reasonable option. But you do not have to make any sudden decision about it. Talk to your parents, professors, and college counselors about the difficulties you are facing and possible solutions for them. 

Most prevalent mental health problems in college

Some of the most prevalent mental health problems faced by students in colleges are: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Substance addiction


Anxiety comprises feelings of apprehensiveness or anticipation of future danger or misfortune accompanied by a feeling of worry, distress, or somatic symptoms of tension. It includes signs like persistent nervousness, trembling, muscular tensions, sweating, lightheadedness, palpitations, dizziness, and epigastric discomfort. Anxiety can be caused because of unsure about our college life and whether we will be able to deal with it. 


Students might experience a lowering of mood, reduction of energy, and decrease inactivity. Capacity for enjoyment, interest, and concentration is reduced, and marked tiredness after even minimum effort is common. Sleep is usually disturbed and appetite diminished. Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always reduced and, and sometimes ideas of guilt or worthlessness are also present.


Some students also experience stress which is a response to exceptional physical and mental stress and that usually subsides within hours or days. The symptoms generally include an initial state of “daze” with some constriction of the field of consciousness and narrowing of attention, inability to comprehend stimuli, and disorientation. This state may be followed either by further withdrawal from the surrounding situation.

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders can be seen of two types in students. One where there is the unsatisfactory quantity and/or quality of sleep, which persists for a considerable period, including difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or early final awakening. And the other type leads to either excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks or prolonged transition to the fully aroused state upon awakening.

Eating disorders

Eating disorder in students is generally characterized by deliberate weight loss, induced and sustained by the patient. The symptoms include restricted dietary choice, excessive exercise, induced vomiting and purgation, and the use of appetite suppressants and diuretics. 

Panic attacks

The essential feature of panic attacks is recurrent attacks of severe anxiety (panic), which are not restricted to any particular situation or set of circumstances and are therefore unpredictable. The dominant symptoms include sudden onset of palpitations, chest pain, choking sensations, dizziness, and feelings of unreality (depersonalization or derealization). There is often also a secondary fear of dying, losing control, or going mad. 

Substance addiction

A lot of young students start using alcohol and other substances for fun. But sometimes it gets out of control and can lead to a condition resulting in disturbances in the level of consciousness, cognition, perception, affect or behavior, or other psycho-physiological functions and responses. Something that can hamper their academic performance.

How to deal with dropping out of college due to mental health

Here are a few approaches you can choose from to better deal with dropping out of college due to mental health:

  • Think of taking a gap year
  • Switch to part-time
  • Lessen your classes
  • Check for jobs
  • Talk to your professors
  • Reach out to university counselor
  • Ask help from batchmates
  • Have trust in yourself 

Think of taking a gap year

Rather than dropping and leaving college completely think about taking a gap year instead. This will allow you time to work on your mental health and you won’t even have to leave college this gap year could be used by you to see how you want to space out your studies and deal better with the pressure when you come back. 

Switch to part-time

In case you do not want to stop going to college but just want it to not affect your mental health, you can think about switching to part-time college. This would provide you with some “me time” while working towards the future you want. 

Lessen your classes

In case too many classes are the reason you feel like dropping out of college because of mental health you can drop a few classes this semester and take them the next semester. It won’t affect your grades in any way and you’ll have time to concentrate on other classes and to improve your mental health. 

Check for jobs

Check what jobs will be available to you if you do drop out of college. Not many companies are open to hiring dropouts but that doesn’t mean none are. A lot of startups are looking for people who can join them and having a degree is not the most important thing for them. 

Talk to your professors

Talk to your professors about dropping out of college due to mental health. They have seen students struggling in classes and can help you study better and easier so that it does not impact your mental health. 

Reach out to university counselor

Ask your university counselor about the different options you have and find alternatives to you dropping out of college due to mental health. The counselor can advise you on how to take a year off or on how to lessen your current burden. 

Ask help from batchmates

Ask your batchmates to help you out with your studies and discuss the problems or difficulties you might be facing. You will notice that they too are feeling similarly and can probably help you out. Having good social support can in itself help improve your mental health. 

Have trust in yourself 

Trust yourself for making the right decision, even if it means dropping out of college due to mental health. You know what is best for you as you only know what you are going through. Seek advice and help from others but remember to do what you feel is best. 

Advice to improve mental health

Here are a few tips you can follow to improve your mental health condition:

  • Spend time with yourself
  • Engage in self-care activities
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthily 
  • Talk to your friends and family
  • Adopt a pet

Spend time with yourself

Spend some alone time with yourself away from the hustle-bustle of college life. Find a quiet area where you can come to relax. Have some time alone and do meditation or just nothing. 

Engage in self-care activities

Engage in self-care activities like restraining your study hours, taking good baths, rewarding yourself with good food once in a while. Or just doing your favorite hobby at least once a week. You can also take walks while listening to music and give yourself a few days off when things feel like they are getting too much. 

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly can help keep good physical health but along with that good mental health too. Exercising especially running can help release holy hormones in the mind making you happier and more energetic. 

Eat healthily 

It can be tough to get food in college at times and one can be really struggling with managing food and classes. But surging on noodles and coffee is not the path towards good mental health. Ensure that you are having proper meals that include vegetables and fruits. Cut down your coffee and alcohol consumption and intake more juices and milk.

Talk to your friends and family

Having a good social support system can help with mental health as it provides us with the confidence that when things will get tough we have someone to talk to and figure out what to do. We can talk to them about our feelings and vent out. 

Adopt a pet

Another option is to adopt pets from a local place and it can really boost your mental health. Having a constant companion can help you fight feelings of loneliness and isolation. They also help set up a schedule for you to follow. 

In this guide, we discussed why students are dropping out of college due to mental health, the option of dropping out, and how to improve your mental health.

FAQs: Dropping out of college due to mental health

What to do if you’re thinking about dropping out of college?

In case you are thinking about dropping out of college consider these factors before going ahead, lower your daily cost as sometimes it is because of financial issues that staying in college seems tough. Lower your workload by either switching to college part-time or drop a few classes and take them up next semester. Talk to your professors and college counselors about what options can be availed by you to help you through college. 

What is considered dropping out of college?

Dropping out of college commonly refers to the act of a student quitting college before they graduate from it or avoiding going to a university or a college in itself. Sometimes students may drop out of college without officially terminating their enrollment with the college. 

Can I get my money back if I drop out of college?

The academic year in college starts in September and most colleges allow for a tuition refund if the student withdraws from college before the 30th day of the semester. Different colleges have a different amount of refund they provide, depending on when you are wanting to withdraw from college.

Why is college so hard?

The level of education provided at school level and college is vastly different and that makes it difficult for some students to cope up. The sudden increase in studies combined with other factors like a new place, the stress of fitting in, making new friends while being part of extracurricular activities at college can make college very hard.

Why do students drop out?

The major reasons that students give for leaving school are personal. These include needing to get a job, having to care for a family member or parenthood. Nearly half of the students report that their earlier schooling had not prepared them completely or efficiently for high school or college. 


The State of Mental Health in College Students Today



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