Every student always commences their studies with good intentions, as well as usually making a few sacrifices along the way. Whether you are going to college, or you have enrolled in a small micro-credential like yours truly did; a fact of life is that things do not always go according to plan. According to the Education Data Initiative, 32.9% of college undergraduates do not end up completing their degree. There are many more who would have mentally and/or emotionally checked out of their studies at one point or another; yet manage to continue to persevere and do whatever it takes to pass, and to not drop out.
That is disappointing on the students part, because ample funds are spent on course tuition, as well as for any extra materials, from a brand spanking new MacBook Air (to name), as well as organising accommodation, Internet, and the time spent in reading student reviews, and in studying course catalogs; to only name a few actions that a student must do in order to prepare to be the best possible student out there. Some Kleenex too perhaps?
There is no shame in admitting that things did not work out with a particular course; no different to giving it your all in a love-based or any other relationship.
A student dropping out of their course has nothing to do with their academic performance in some cases.
For example, the beginning of the pandemic (combined with an unexpected loss of a family member) gave me no choice but to drop out of my original UX Designer certification. If an education provider is not wanting to negotiate tuition fees with the move to online studies; this decision to drop out had saved me a whopping $11,500 AUD by swiftly moving to a non-profit institute that certified me in the same time period, despite the disruptions.
Some drop out experiences are beyond bittersweet though.
You and I agree that being a student comes as a result of wanting a better quality of life for yourself, and/or for your loved ones in other cases. This is why you make any necessary sacrifices in doing such, as the motive behind such is so strong. My decision to (ideally, but not anymore) change specialties in STEM from UX Design to Data Analytics came from the same logic back in July 2023, and to once again study on my own terms post-pandemic. At the time, there was a 60% downturn in my UX Design work, and my side hustles started to become like slow moving snails simultaneously. Saying that things were ultra tough for me back then is a sheer understatement. What is a girl to do? Apply some Girl Math? The aim is to bid for some more work, which was done, however the most solid and strong answer came to study the Google Data Analytics Certification.
At the onset, no one was poking and prodding at me to study. Online study requires more discipline to be able to study on flexible terms, and from the luxury and comfort of your own home. I was fully present at the start, and engagement with the content, and with technology in general was at an all-time high...until the beginning of September 2023. To throw a multitude of (mostly pleasant) curveballs my way; my business began to take off again, with emergency client consultations for the first time in three years, as well as a couple of clients wanting to pay me more than anticipated, based on the outcome of certain UX consultations. An extra six hours a week of ongoing content moderation work was also offered to me. At the same time, my two ongoing clients confessed that they do not want to recruit any other freelancers, despite the surge in work. That surge is still strong, and now it will continue to be.
There are a multitude of reasons as to why this sudden surge of work came about, as well as earning an extra $200-350 AUD a week after tax due to this good fortune. My gut is telling me is that this is all based on enrolling in the Google Data Analytics Certification towards the end of July had caused this ripple event of unexpected manifestations and abundance in my life. My clients knew what was going on with me, and I did not even have to tell them directly. And for the first time in two months, I can now (once again) pay my landlord (monthly rent for my apartment) rent in full, without needing to redraw from my savings, in addition to the new rent increase of around $282 AUD per month now kicking in from the 1st of October 2023, as at the time of writing. The universe can be so cruel in so many ways, but I digress.
As a result of this unexpected good fortune, and the combined growth of my friendships, while needing to strike a healthy balance between work and play; I started to mentally and emotionally check out of the Google Data Analytics Certification program after the half-way mark. As you progress with a course of study, the content gets harder, and naturally so.
I noticed that I was more careless with my notes, and hence my handwriting to boot. And I started to fast forward the course videos, in addition to having to re-sit a few exams, in order to move onto the next module.
There was an 80% minimum pass mark required for all graded and ungraded assessments. There were a couple of periods where I had to wait 24 hours to re-sit said exams; especially with R programming, when knowing the difference between a Knit and a R Markdown started to feel bigger than the person who could be bigger than ben-hur.
Needless to say, despite "presenteeism" rearing its ugly head; I was awarded my certification on the 17th of September 2023, after two-months of study, where I was studying on average 10-15 hours a week.
Despite the fast track kind of approach; the content was sinking in, and computer programming (my weakest area) surprisingly became more enjoyable, and most of all bearable on the s*!ttier days, almost as quickly as soap removes dirt.
The discussion forums also became more and more empty, and student reviews gradually declined with each and every module. It is not to assume that the drop out rate for this certification is high; yet many students were being left behind as to how f*!king difficult Data Analytics is. Many discussion forums (where Google was expecting a decent amount of words, in answer to a specific question) were filled with empty comments from other students from "Hi" to "I give up" to typing in stupid characters/wing dings, just so they can gain access to the discussion.
This course was hosted on the Coursera platform, where $49 USD is charged to access such. That is quite neat, in accessing quality content, and the Google Data Analytics Certification added value in that regard; yet that value missed the mark at times, due to how out of date some of the content was. And you wonder how many of these instructors were laid off in the company's mass-layoff at the beginning of 2023?
Their claims of being able to secure an entry-level Data Analytics role upon conclusion of this certification are shallow and far-fetched. I paid special attention to the Tableau module, and also reading and watching additional resources outside of the course to make my data viz stand out for a coveted opportunity in Data Analytics, where I would have been paid to engage in a four-month induction course, before engaging with this relevant companies clients. Sure, I copped some constructive feedback as expected; yet getting the same the second and third time, after doing a major iteration based on what I was taught in this Google certification that I technically dropped out of was far from insulting, and ultra confusing.
In other words, this particular course only served as a starting point in wanting a career in Data Analytics. I fared better with UX Design back in 2020, despite not studying on my own terms, and I still managed to break into the freelance world immediately thereafter. That was $2,000 AUD well spent, and a telltale sign that I was meant to be a UX Designer in the first place. Furthermore, the difference laid in getting feedback on my portfolio from a mentor (included in that $2K tuition), whereas with Google (and super strange for a high profile tech company, if I should say so myself); the portfolio (capstone) module is optional. All you had to do was declare if you have completed a case study or not. Yep, a Vocal Media article counted for that. No one is available to help you, and/or to give you feedback on your portfolio. To me, that would not be worth $98 USD to complete, because there is clearly more work to be done, even though there are promises that you will be able to work in Data Analytics at the end; but only if you want to freelance in that field of tech.
That brings forth that million dollar question. The course fee of $98 USD / $120 AUD to complete my Google Data Analytics Certification (despite technically dropping out/checking out early) was worth it for me. If it was not for this course, then my current work as a UX Designer, Content Moderator and Writer (all freelance) would not be so prosperous today. That is (combined with 120-180 hours of my time, of which I shall never get back) worth it for earning an extra $200 AUD a week as a bare bones minimum; plus this course has given me the confidence to study (if I need to) anything that will directly grow my business in the foreseeable future (this certification indirectly did). For example, if I was to engage in B.School (a six week program); the total investment is much higher to begin with. Plus my mental health has improved, as I still committed to something; even though it was clear as day that I did not want to engage in such content anymore. In other words, I could not be bothered.
At the end of the day (and not to brag); I am still proud of myself, due to the fact that I still got a Google certificate at the end of the day. I am not sure if that is ever going to happen again in my tech career. Now it is onwards and upwards in my business, and adios to Data Analytics for now.
About the Creator
Freelance Internet Moderator/UX Writer/UX Consulting Designer/Graphic Designer
Lives in Sydney, Australia. Loves life.