Confessions of a Cambridge Drop Out

Ken Cheng Offers his Experience of that Other Option: Dropping Out.

Sick of supervisions, hour-long snoozefests disguised as lectures and crunching out semi-random words for your essay deadlines? Don't worry, there's a quick and easy remedy available that is sure to fix all your (university-related) problems: drop out of Cambridge.

Firstly, you must decide whether you actually want to drop out. As a first-year mathmo, I was consistently having headaches, panic attacks and leaving fist-shaped holes in the wall while facing the weekly problem sheets. If this sounds like you, then you are a prime candidate for taking this path. Whoever said giving up is weak was clearly just too good at everything, but for the rest of us it's perfectly okay to cut and run.

I will recommend asking your friends and family what they think on the matter, then ignore them completely. They will almost always tell you that you shouldn't drop out, but that's only current society's stigma towards drop-outs talking. Given that you're already here, you obviously have pushy ambitious parents, so they're never going to advise you to quit in a million years. Most of your friends won't be able to fully understand what you're going through, because they are not you; you are you and only you can make the decision. 

What you should do next is figure out what your plans are. If you are only sick of Cambridge and still want a degree, then that's fine, just rinse and repeat. Otherwise you're going to have to find a job that's as much of a grind as levelling up characters on World of Warcraft (the best your three As from further education can provide). However, there's a secret third options the careers advisers didn't tell you about (I've always wondered, if career advisers know so much about jobs, why did they end up as careers advisers?), and it was the ace up my sleeve: online poker. I was fortunately blessed to already have a background in poker when I decided to drop out and it really is a lucrative career choice. Potentially, you could end up making more money than doctors with considerably less hours, so take that into account, medics. If none of the proper plans strike you as appealing, you can always just go for “d) none of the above” and live in your parents' basement until you can finally claim it as your own. 

The life of a drop-out has both advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes you end up days, no, weeks without doing anything productive (unless you count watching the entire box-set of the West Wing in a fortnight). However, a disadvantage will be that you sometimes feel isolated from any social sphere as you no longer belong to any group. I for one have felt this way a lot, despite still residing in Cambridge, because it's much more convenient for people to just socialise with people a couple feet away from them, while everyone further than that can stick to bi-monthly Facebook wall-to-wall interaction filled with stock phrases like 'how's your year going?' that dies out after three messages. If you're particularly adept though, you can worm your way into people's social circles with a certain Fonz-like charm and have the uni social life without any of the work (or week five blues), which is perhaps the optimal situation in life for someone in their early twenties.

Honestly, I think dropping out will be the new thing in a few years time, especially with the slow and steady decline in the education system. This is simply a natural progression as more and more people are blindly walking into the world of university in lemming-like fashion, that there will be so many students that aren't suited for it and it's only correct for them to quit before they inevitably fail anyway. If you want to keep up with fashion, or better yet, be one of those people who followed trends before they were cool, I suggest you drop out immediately, before you become one of those attention-grabbing morons who does it after nobody gives a shit.