Disclaimer: This post is not meant to encourage people to drop out of schools. This is my personal observations and opinions.

5 years ago, I dropped out of university after 2 years of studies. So far, I still think it is the best decision of my life. I never regret it one bit. Of course, at times I was extremely doubtful but at the end of the day, I always felt that was the right thing to do.

Growing up in an Asian country where rote learning is rampant and grades are used pretty much as the only criteria to evaluate a student, I felt so lost at times trying to understand the purpose of what I was cramming into my head, because really I forgot most of it not so long after I’d passed the exams.

Education is considered very important in Vietnam and a university degree the key to a good job, a good life with respect, stability and of course income. I knew I gambled everything when I dropped out of university and for years I struggled with my family’s disapproval. Before that, I also missed a scholarship to Japan due to personal reasons. But now I think it was all for the better.

So what are the perks of dropping out of school you may be asking? I think, first of all, it is that you have the ability to ‘unlearn’ and ‘unschool’ yourself. I believe real education happens outside of classrooms.

Dropping out of school doesn’t mean you stop your education or stop learning. Quite the contrary, I felt it was the first time I actually took charge of my learning. I started learning and doing what I really enjoyed and I did it with great excitement and enthusiasm, just for myself and my happiness.

I started learning and doing what I really enjoyed and I did it with great excitement and enthusiasm, just for myself and my happiness. Learning just happened naturally. I have had amazing experiences since then and met incredible people, all from which I learn a great deal.

The world nowadays is just so unpredictable and changing every day at light speed. And with the development of advanced technology, soon machines and AI will be replacing humans being in many jobs. We must always keep up with the latest tech, the latest discovery, the latest breakthrough to be able to survive in the workforce. Learning needs to be a life-long process, not just within 12 years of formal education and afterward 2-6 years of higher education.

This requires us to keep developing, growing and exploring to keep our knowledge up-to-date. We also need to unlearn ourselves, get rid of the old, the obsolete to open our minds to new things, new revolutionary ideas. This brings me to the second perk of being a dropout.

Some might see it as a disadvantage that I didn’t have any formal training in a formal classroom with a professional, how could I learn or do anything without the knowledge? I actually now think of it as my big advantage.

Thanks to that, I can learn very quickly new things and apply it immediately, and I can also unlearn stuff to see different ways of doing things; whereas I have witnessed many graduates fail to apply what they’ve learned in real life, and at times, they can’t defy their own knowledge and think outside of what they’ve learned.

Not to mention, with the Internet and the availability of millions of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), it is easier than ever to access information and knowledge anywhere, anytime. There is no need to enroll in a university and sit in lectures anymore to actually acquire knowledge.

There is a term that more and more people have been talking about in these recent years, Action Learning (Learning by doing) and Experiential Learning (Learning through experiences). I believe this is the future of education as it allows people to be versatile, unique and makes education very personal and individualized. Just imagine an education where the world is your classroom, you are your own teacher and you set your own schedule and choose whatever you want to learn. To me, it’s the dream of every kid.

Now looking back and thinking about the past few years, I think it was a significant milestone that shaped my life, my path, and even my personalities. Had I stayed at university or gone to Japan, I would have led a more “normal”, stable and conventional life.

However, had I stayed at university, I wouldn’t have met my partner now, who is also my soulmate and best friend; I wouldn’t have had all those amazing experiences and met all those inspiring people that challenge my views and open my eyes to a world of diversity, beauty, and wonders. I wouldn’t trade all that for anything in the world.

I know there are many people out there stuck with their boring 9-to-5 jobs or inundated with homework and assignments. I don’t advise people to quit, that is the contrary of what I hope. I hope to see more change-makers, risk-takers, daredevils, dreamers, creators, rebels, pioneers and leaders taking charge of their lives and their education, for they are the ones that change and shape their world.

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Posted by:Hanh Lam

I am a young Vietnamese woman with a passion for development work and social change, a desire to explore the world and a love for storytelling.

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