Staying in college not the right path for all

Getting into college isn’t a straight path to a diploma. Some students find life happier outside of the classroom.

Partying, independence and accredited educational programs bring thousands of students to Temple each year, but after arriving, many students are buying one-way train tickets home instead of second-semester books.

In 2005, more than 290 students out of 2,997 failed to gain an academic degree from Temple and 1,780 students graduated after six years of attendance. Currently, Temple has an overall graduation rate of 60 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“My decision to drop out of mainstream society to pursue what would be deemed a bohemian lifestyle by many, has been the greatest achievement of my life to date,” said Alex Zilinski, a former film and media arts major.

Zilinski decided to discontinue his studies at Temple after the fall semester of his sophomore year in 2006.

“I decided to take all core classes during my last semester, and the combination of all the classes together proved to be completely boring,” Zilinski said. “I felt as though I already learned everything years earlier.”

After leaving Temple two years ago, Zilinski’s parents no longer provided financial support. He currently works at a produce deli in Fishtown.

Emily Haymes decided to drop out of the anthropology program at Temple after completing her freshman year in Spring 2008. After graduating high school, Haymes spent a year working on a hospital ship. Once enrolled as a student, Haymes said she was shocked by the teaching behaviors of the university’s faculty members.

“A lot of the professors I had didn’t have any idea what they were talking about and they made sweeping generalizations about what they did talk about. It wasn’t very fun paying for teachers that weren’t teaching,” Haymes said.

“My professors also claimed to be super tolerant, but most of them called me unintelligent to my face. Being an anthropology major and a Christian, I guess you’re kind of asking for it,” she added.

After leaving Temple, Haymes was offered a position in Texas with the Mercy Ships International Operations Center, where she plans to pursue a career as a journalist. Mercy Ships is not paying her much, but Haymes said it’s enough to write articles for the company’s newsletters.

Other students chose to leave the university because the college experience was not what they thought it would be.

Collin Cavote entered Temple as an entrepreneurship major in the business honors program during the fall semester of 2006. During his time as a student, he joined Kappa Sigma fraternity and was named to the dean’s list for two semesters.

Cavote said he maintained his enjoyment of learning even though he was “mildly intoxicated half of the evenings of the week.”

“In centuries past, schools were the places where radicals gathered, where philosophers pondered mathematics, where individuals thought how to overthrow the government,” Cavote said. “Education has become a way to indoctrinate the public into the currently held views of the time rather than allowing the public to teach us what they know.”

“My decision to leave Temple wasn’t about a professor, or class, or building, or food, or neighborhood,” Cavote said. “I didn’t want to continue racking up debt for programs and classes that were not bringing me personal satisfaction.”

After the Spring 2007 semester, Cavote moved to the West Coast, where he worked with a family on a small organic farm. He is currently looking for employment in the food industry and hopes to take academic classes in his spare time.

“Throughout my life, I have genuinely enjoyed expanding my sphere of comprehension and understanding,” Cavote said. “Temple simply didn’t seem to offer what my interests entailed.”

For Daniel Jordan, attending college appeared to be the right thing to do after receiving his high school diploma.

“I went into Temple undecided on a major, and I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to be in college, but I just figured it was the thing to do after high school because that’s what everyone does,” Jordan said.
He decided to discontinue his education at Temple after his first semester as a freshman.

“I started to lose a lot of confidence and I was really worried that I wouldn’t figure out what I wanted to do,” Jordan said. “So I started freaking out a bit. I was talking to the school psychiatrist for a while, and I was on anti-depressants just to be able to get up and go to class.

“I started talking with my parents about it all, and we decided it would be best for me to take some time off and try some different things.”

Soon after leaving Temple, Jordan received an office job and he even lived in Guatemala to learn Spanish.   

“When I came back, I took a course and became EMT-certified and I am now working with an ambulance company. I’m headed back to school at Delaware County Community College with a lot more confidence and a much better grip on what I’m interested in pursuing,” Jordan said.

Many students at the university have witnessed their roommates and friends leave the academia world.
Senior African American studies and psychology major Brittney Lawrence witnessed her roommate from freshman year drop out after one semester at Temple.

“She got pregnant, so it was bad. Her parents stopped supporting her and she just gave up,” Lawrence said. “She went from doing so well as a biology major to living in Connecticut on welfare. It was sad and I just felt really bad for her.”

Sophomore jazz studies and performance major Danny Janklow remembers his old roommate that dropped out.

“He wouldn’t come to class. He would just stay up at all hours of the night watching YouTube programs,” Janklow said.

Bob Wagner, a junior environmental science major, has seen many people drop out during his time at Temple.

“My buddy loved college but hated college work and classes, so it took him two years to fail out,” Wagner said. “It seems like the people that I know who have dropped out weren’t finding what they wanted in school so they left, joined unions and learned more in the unions then the years they spent at Temple.”

Kelly R. Fields can be reached at

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