Should You Drop Out of University to Start a Startup? (Pros and Cons)
Find the answer, broken down here.
Most people would think dropping out of university to start a startup is the most stupid idea.
They are probably right, especially if you are considering it because you don’t like your current major or if you don’t want to pay off your student loans.
However, if you have a business idea that is worth pursuing and can earn enough money while in school, it might be worth taking the risk.
I’m not saying that I recommend dropping out of university to start a startup. In fact, I would never recommend it for anyone who isn’t willing to take on the risk.
However, I will give you my honest opinion about whether or not it is worth it. In this article, I will go over both the pros and cons of dropping out of university to start a startup so that you can make an informed decision.
I dropped out of my Computer Science program after only 6 months into my 4 year degree program because I wanted to focus on my side business full time instead of studying. After 6 months of working on my side business full time while living off savings and surviving on an allowance on the side, we started securing and relying on grants and other funding sources.
Every individual’s socio-economic circumstances are different, so this article will be based on my own personal experience.
In this article, I will go over both the pros and cons of dropping out of university to start a startup so that you can make an informed decision.
Before you consider dropping out of university:
You should consider all of the following points before dropping out to focus on your startup:
1. What is your current financial situation?
If you are currently in school, your biggest concern should be your finances. Do you have enough money to pay for school, living expenses, and have a little bit of money left over to invest in your startup?
If you are paying for school yourself, you should be fine.
If you are relying on student loans, you might want to reconsider your decision to drop out of university to start a startup.
If you are not able to make ends meet, it might be best to stay in school and work on your startup part-time. You can always drop out of university later if your startup succeeds.
2. Do you have dependents, or do you need to support your family financially in the near future?
If you have dependents or family members that rely on you financially, it might be best to stay in school.
I didn’t have any dependents when I dropped out of university, so I was fine. However, if you have dependents or a family that relies on your income, it might be best to stay in school as making a profit from the start of your business as a source of income is less likely than securing a job after you graduate.
3. Do you have a strong support system?
You should have a strong support system in place before you consider dropping out of university to start a startup.
Your support system should consist of family and friends that are willing to help you succeed in your startup, even if it means working for free or taking on other roles within your company. If you don’t have this support system, it might be best to stay in school.
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job. It is unlikely that you will be able to make ends meet by yourself without the help of your family and friends. The emotional pressure on you will be enormous.
You should also consider your friend's and family’s opinions about your startup. If they are not supportive of your idea, it might be best to stay in school.
4. Are you willing to take on the risk?
Are you willing to give up 4 years of your life? Will you be able to deal with failure? Are you okay with being financially dependent on your parents or spouse for the next few years while working on your startup full time? If not, it might be best to stay in school.
I dropped out of university because I had a great support system and I was confident that my business would succeed, but I was still scared of failure.
It is a scary thing to do, but it is possible if you have a great support system and are confident that your business will succeed.
It can be hard if you have a family that relies on you financially, so if this is the case for you, it might be best to stay in school for at least one more year until you can secure funding from an investor or grants/scholarships.
The risk is very high when dropping out of university before graduating, so make sure that you are ready for it before you take the plunge.
5. What is your current academic standing?
If you are on the cusp of graduating, it might be best to stay in school and graduate with your degree before you drop out to start a startup.
You will be able to use your degree as leverage for a job if you decide that your startup is not working out.
However, if you are currently failing classes or have been asked to leave school due to poor academic performance, it might be best to consider dropping out of university and focusing on your startup full time instead of getting kicked out for poor performance.
The Pros (of dropping out):
1. Build Something Valuable
Dropping out of university to start a startup has many benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that you can focus on building something valuable without the distractions of the university.
You can use your full time to work on your startup instead of worrying about school. If you have a startup idea that you think has the potential to make money, then this is a great opportunity to focus on it full time.
You can build something valuable while still in school, but it is much harder. You have to find time to work on your startup while also studying for your classes and taking exams.
It’s almost impossible to do well in school while working on a startup full time, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
There are many great examples of entrepreneurs who dropped out of university because they had an idea that they wanted to pursue.
Many of them succeeded because they were able to focus all their energy on building their startups instead of worrying about school and classes.
2. Experience First Hand
The best way to learn how to do something is by doing it yourself. When you drop out of university, you can learn first hand what it takes to start a business and run a business as an entrepreneur.
You can see first hand what works and what doesn’t work in the real world. You can also learn what skills are needed for starting and running a business from people who have already done it successfully.
There are many resources online that will teach you how to start a business, but there is nothing like learning from someone who has already done it.
When you are able to work with an experienced entrepreneur, you can learn a lot more than you can from reading books or articles online.
You can also gain experience by running your own business while still in school.
However, it is much harder to learn while doing when you are trying to balance your school work and a side business.
3. Learn How to Build a Company
Another benefit of dropping out of university is that you will learn how to build a company from the ground up.
This is one of the most valuable skills that you can learn as an entrepreneur because not many people know how to do it properly.
When I dropped out of university, I had no idea what I was doing or how to run a company properly.
I had never worked in any type of business before so I didn’t know anything about managing employees or handling finances properly.
Luckily, I learned everything that I needed to know from reading books and working with mentors who have built successful companies before me.
There are many resources online for learning how to build a company but nothing beats first-hand experience and hands-on training for learning how to build a company.
4. Become Financially Independent
One of the biggest benefits of dropping out of university is that you can become financially independent sooner.
You can focus on building your business full-time while still in school and earn enough money to survive on your own without having to work a side job or get an allowance from your parents.
If you don’t have much money saved up, it might be a good idea to continue working part-time while you are in school and saving up as much money as possible before dropping out.
This way, you will have enough money saved up to survive on your own after dropping out so that you don’t have to worry about going back home or getting an allowance from your parents.
You can focus all your energy on building your business without having to worry about other things.
5. Expand your professional network
Dropping out of university will give you the opportunity to expand your professional network.
If you drop out and start a business, you will meet many people who are involved in different industries and can help you build your business.
Many of these people might be able to help you build your business or even get investors for your startup.
Even if they can’t help you directly, they can introduce you to other people who can help.
The Cons (of dropping out):
1. Financial Security
One of the biggest disadvantages of dropping out of university is that it puts your financial security at risk.
If your startup fails, then you could lose everything that you have worked so hard for over the years and be left with nothing but student loans to pay off.
There is no guarantee that your startup will succeed, so it is very risky to drop out and start a business if it doesn’t have much potential for success.
There are many other ways that an entrepreneur can learn how to run a company without dropping out of university first.
Many online courses and programs are available where entrepreneurs can learn how to run a company properly from experienced entrepreneurs who have already done it successfully in the past.
You don’t need to drop out of university to learn how to run a company.
If you have enough money saved up, you can also take a gap year after high school or after university and try your hand at starting a business before deciding whether or not it is worth it to drop out of university.
2. Opportunities for Growth
Dropping out of university will also prevent you from experiencing the opportunities for growth that come with being in an academic environment.
You won’t be able to join extracurricular activities that are unrelated to your major such as clubs, music programs, sports teams, or other clubs and organizations that promote personal growth and development.
You won’t be able to meet new people and make connections with them in different fields because they might become potential clients later on in life.
These connections could lead to future opportunities for growth and success in your professional career down the road.
The longer you stay in university, the more opportunities for growth you will have as an individual and as a professional entrepreneur.
3. No Social Life
Dropping out of university to start a business will put your social life at risk. Most university students have a social life that is separate from their business.
They are able to balance both sides of their lives and have fun with friends and family on the weekends without being tied down to their businesses all the time.
You won’t be able to do this if you drop out of university because you will be working on your business full time instead of balancing it with other aspects of your life.
You won’t be able to hang out with friends or go on vacations without feeling guilty about not spending enough time working on your business.
If you want to have a social life while working on your startup, then it might not be worth dropping out of university because it will make you feel isolated from the rest of society and prevent you from having any type of real personal growth outside of your startup or business world.
4. Failure Risk
As I mentioned earlier, there is no guarantee that your startup will succeed, so it is very risky to drop out and start a business if it doesn’t have much potential for success.
Your startup could fail miserably, leaving you in debt with no money in your bank account.
If you want to start a business, then it is better to do it while you are still in university because it will give you more time to try different business ideas and see which ones are worth pursuing.
It will also give you more time to learn how to run a company and be able to make a successful transition into the professional world after graduation.
5. Emotional Baggage
At first, it might seem like dropping out of university to start a business is the best thing that you could ever do with your life.
However, after you drop out and have some time to reflect on your decision, you might realize that it was the worst decision that you could have ever made.
Dropping out of university can cause a lot of emotional baggage because you will be leaving your friends and family behind.
You will be isolated from society in general because most people don’t understand what it means to start a business and they will judge you for making such a risky decision.
They won’t understand why you would want to drop out of university to pursue an idea that might not even work out in the end.
You will also feel guilty about dropping out because it was probably one of the hardest decisions that you had to make in your life so far.
In addition, after you have started working on your startup, the daily stress of running a business can cause a lot of emotional baggage as well.
It can get overwhelming at times, and you might feel like giving up because you don’t know how to handle all of the pressure that comes with starting a business.
If you are emotionally unstable, then it might not be worth dropping out of university to start a business because it will put your mental health at risk.
You will feel lonely and isolated from society without having your friends and family around to support you in your time of need.
You will also have to deal with stress and pressure from running a business that might be too much for you to handle if you are emotionally unstable.
At the end of the day, you will have to make the decision for yourself, as I did 3 years ago.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces, and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.