Walking Away From My Bachelor’s Degree…

Lauren Michelle1087 views

I’m living the life of a college graduate and doing what I’m not supposed to be doing. The social norm has become to get a job fresh out of college. I mean that’s why we went in the first place, right? Here is my personal account of graduating college with a Religious Studies and Leadership degree to live a life of travel and the unknown first.

I just graduated from one of Florida’s top universities with a degree I do not plan on using right away. Just like me, there are so many students who gunned to finish college with a degree to smash that perfect future job, to find out that they may not end up where they expected.

Who says graduating means you have to grow up?

There are thousands of college students who choose a field of study that they are not passionate about, others decide to switch majors. What many people do not know about me is that I changed my major twice. As a little guppy in the big pond, I started off as a Business Major, then I joined the Architecture program and realized my interest lied in Religion and Leadership. It took me two majors to finally graduate with a BA of something I enjoy. I’ll even admit that I thought about dropping out, probably hundreds of times. There was a turning point where I realized that the degree I was pursuing wasn’t engaging me in any form of development; it was actually suppressing it. I didn’t have any time for self-love or personal growth; I was only worried about perfecting each score and cut of my models and tearing myself down about giving presentations to the architecture panel. I’d spend more than 50 hours a week in the studio and then 30 hours a week at work. I was going to school for a major I thought would mold the rest of my life, but it was a decision that could ruin my life, if I continued. By the grace of God, switching my major twice did not hold me back from early graduation, but it also gave me the best college experience, knowledge, and personal growth I could ask for.

Making the decision to study a field that ignites a spark in your mind & heart makes college worth it, even when your career is not your first priority. Graduates will walk across the stage after years of exams and sleepless nights, with no means of applying it right after shaking the university president’s hand. This is okay – WE are okay. This piece of paper can be used for an opportunity to pursue a passion during ANY MOMENT in our lifetime.

Graduation, a momentous occasion, has people asking you, “what are you now going to do with your degree?” Most of the time, our answers may seem like we don’t have our lives planned out. Guess what! I don’t. There’s the stigma of the “American Dream” to graduate college, get a 9-5 job, find the love of your life, buy a home, and have a family, all in that order. What’s the harm in switching it up a little and having a life that’s not planned accordingly to the “American Dream?”

Tell me all you want about how I should be starting my career after getting out of college or my degree will go to waste; I will tell you that you are wrong. I use my degree every day, with the people I meet from different cultures, the countries I venture into, and the politics I read about. There is no demand to use it the moment I walk across that stage.

When did graduating with your degree mean you have to immediately venture off into your life-long career before exploring other passions of yours? Ask yourself this: Are you doing what you want to be doing right now? Not for where you want to be in 30 years, but now. I got my degree so I can be a Youth Group Director in the future, it’s not where I see myself at the age of 21.

I am a strong believer in each person having more than one thing that ignites the spark in your heart and taking that stride to tap into your creativity and allowing it to consume you while you’re craving it. For some people, it’s not what they’ve been working towards for 4 years. As time changes, people change.

You have endless chances to explore those things that consume you like a wildfire.

Most people will not understand how or why I, you, or we made this decision because they haven’t yet experienced it themselves. And this is A-OKAY. You are experiencing, in an unconventional way, something many people can’t find after college: a personal journey to a meaningful life.

Walking away from my bachelor’s degree, at the moment, I am filled with a lot of doubt and fear. We don’t know what the future has in store for us or what can go wrong, but I do know that I have the chance to shape my future based on my life experience. I am the only one responsible for my successes and failures, those are not defined by my diploma.

Graduating from college is a time to focus on you, to follow what interests you now, to achieve what caught flame like a wildfire in your heart, to extend a hand to others, and to work on your personal growth. I am working towards the life I want to live, not the life others expect or say I should, the “American Dream.” This is my dream.

Chattanooga, TN

Make your life, your dream

Right now, for me, this “wildfire” is traveling all over the world for an unknown amount of time and when my interests change in 5 months, 1 year, or 10 years, I will chase after those passions and never stop creating the person I want to become.

If you’re venturing on an unbeaten path like I am, know that we can use the knowledge we gained from college on our endeavors. I’m just taking mine for a spin around the globe until I decide it’s time to come home.

2016 is just the beginning to an end

The purpose of this post is to provide an awareness to the life you’re living, to the life you should be head over heels for. I’m here to tell you to not be afraid of switching majors as many times as you need, graduating, and/or performing work unrelated to your degree. I want to encourage you to find that work you want to savor, for as long as you need to. Your degree does not define your successes and failures, your personal journey does.


  1. Congrats on graduating! And for making such a tough choice but one that you know is right. Due to health reasons, I chose not to continue in college, but got out as soon as I had that first piece of paper in my hand. And, what, 8 years later, still haven’t used it! But, for me, it was the hardest thing I voluntarily went through – and I MADE IT. Sometimes, I think the life lessons in college are overlooked. I am jealous you get to travel though! I look forward to seeing where you go – share lots of pictures!

    1. Laura,
      First off, thank you so much! I’m sorry to hear about your health problems, but I’m glad to see that you still made it through! That’s how I am; I chose to go to college and pay for it all myself and it is a great feeling and experience to say that WE MADE IT!

  2. You are the boss of your life and anyone else that hasn’t pursued their passions is probably just a bit jealous. Maybe it’s slightly foolish reckless, but you’re right, it’s your life. Honestly, no one I know has ever come to ruin because of a choice like this. You will learn so much.

    1. Ivanna, you’re definitely right; I have never heard someone who has taken an approach like this that it was a regret in their path. Everybody’s adventure is a bit different!

  3. Congratulations on graduating! And also, for pursuing something outside of the norm, sometimes that’s the best decision we can make!

  4. Good for you 🙂 congrats on graduating as well! In November of this year I just turned 30 but I started college when I was 17. I’ve been to University to be a writer, majored in English and the arts. Then, I switched gears and went to school to be an interior designer (Because let’s be honest, one doesn’t need a degree to be a writer). That wasn’t really working for me (Too competitive, took the fun out!) so then I worked for a few years. Eventually, I went to school to become a hairstylist because I was good at it and it’s a better than minimum wage job I could do while I figured out the rest. I did that for almost 10 years. I can’t say I ever wanted the “American Dream” but now I’m married with 2 kids and not working. Yet, God has found a way to bring me back to writing. My point is, we can plan and prepare ourselves out of His plan. Ministering to youth is wonderful but to do so, you have to have something to offer them and youth look for life experience. So enjoy this season of life and adventure with God! It will prepare you for your future more than a piece of paper ever would 🙂 (Personally, I’d be travelling!). Congrats again!

    1. Leah,

      I appreciate it! Your story truly shows that no matter what path you take, you will always be lead where you are meant to prosper. These adventures are going to teach me more about my life than the piece of paper would have. I’m stoked to take this journey and experience some unconventional ways of connecting with God. Thank you!

  5. Congratulations on graduating! Regardless of what you do with your degree, always be proud of the dedication it took for you to be able to graduate in the first place – and give yourself freedom to enjoy your path in life, even if other people may not always understand it.

  6. Our futures are not written for us, we have the paper, we have the pen. Thank you so much for your post! Very reassuring!

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