TIME Gets It

8 Dec

“College psychiatrists by no means disapprove of all dropouts. If dropouts lack ‘motivation,’ it may be a healthy reaction against too many rules and goals that—for them—are momentarily false.” And perhaps dropping out actually provided the motivation needed to look elsewhere for a satisfactory learning experience, and the chance to create something no one ever imagined possible.” -TIME Magazine, 1962

(originally quoted in an article by the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership)

Several parents that I have talked to (and even peers and students themselves) have expressed their worry over the possibility of their son or daughter taking time off from school or leaving entirely. The term “drop out” tends to connote the student who can’t deal or handle a college-level course-load, and resorts to moving back home and sitting around all day getting stoned and watching TV. And there are definitely certain kinds of people who do need that structure in place in order to excel. But I would argue that there is a subset of the population of young adults today who, once put in a situation with less restrictions and allowed to explore and follow their true talents and passions, will become even further motivated to learn, make, and do.

This is what happened to me. I was nervous about being out of school after deciding to take time off after the first half of my sophomore year. Since I made this decision literally a week before I was supposed to return to my college after winter break 2010, I didn’t have a set  plan in place. But I surprised myself, and learned that if I was motivated enough to find a group of mentors, activities, jobs, and topics that interested me, I would be able to accomplish and learn without school, which had provided support and structure to me for the past 15 years of my life.   

But taking time off shouldn’t be limited to only those young people who have a certain kind of drive and are lucky enough to already know what they might want to do once given that freedom. Which is why I encourage students and parents to check out gap year programs, work exchange programs, internships, and other options that exist out there. In fact, it was these sorts of programs that laid the groundwork for me to eventually have the ability to be even further independent in what I have done this past year. 

So coming across the above quote from a time magazine article published nearly 50 years ago just reinforced my own belief that dropping out of school doesn’t necessarily lead to a decrease in motivation. The things I have accomplished on my own have further energized me to continue to make, learn, and do 🙂


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