Wilderness Therapy for College Dropouts
The decision to drop out of college represents a major source of insecurity for many young adults, even those who feel like the decision is in their best interest. While they may recognize that attending school was overwhelming and presented its own challenges, they may feel directionless and stuck if they decide to take time off. Wilderness therapy can help college dropouts get out of their comfort zone and explore their full potential.
The guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
Why Do Young Adults Choose to Drop out of College?
Some reasons that students may choose to take time off school include not being academically ready, not being emotionally ready, and feeling like they can’t handle the stress and burden of attending school on top of trying to maintain social relationships and be the person that they were when they weren’t taking on as much academic work. Other people drop out because the school they chose did not feel like a supportive social environment, their lecture halls felt too depersonalized, or they didn’t know where to turn on campus for emotional or academic support.
Close to three-quarters of college students change their major at some point, including adding or dropping minors or certificates. Working with an advisor early on can help ensure that this transition is smooth and that they do not lose too many credits, but the later in their college career a student decides they have lost interest in their major, the harder it can be to do so. Students that decide to stick it out and continue their education in a field or environment they do not feel passionate about often feel disoriented when it comes to their future goals. Students who feel disappointed in themselves for losing interest in school and learning may not be in a rush to switch majors and continue attending school while they figure out their next steps.
When Should I Consider Taking a Gap Year?
Sometimes, encouraging a student to take a leave of absence, medically withdraw from certain classes, or drop out altogether is the best choice at that time for that student to reflect on what it is they want to do and how to go about that. Many professors tell students that the greatest element of learning is the learning that happens outside the classroom, either through job opportunities, interactions with peers, or applying what they’ve learned in an academic setting in their everyday lives. Some young adults may recognize that the area they want to specialize in requires less formal education--either through work experience, online certificate programs, or trade schools. A college environment is not always a fast track to success.
Gap years can offer respite for college students overwhelmed by their college experience and mental health struggles. A change in environment provides a reset where young adults can take the time to focus on themselves rather than feel pressure to conform to their parents’, teachers’, or classmates’ expectations.
How Do Wilderness Therapy Programs Help College Dropouts?
There is often this overwhelming sense of stress and pressure that leaves young adults feeling stuck after taking a leave of absence. Taking time off school can be a great opportunity for students to regain motivation to launch if they remain goal-oriented. While they may struggle with motivation and feeling directionless, plans to work on setting and achieving personal goals can help young adults get the most out of the structure of a wilderness therapy program.
Wilderness therapy programs introduce young adults to a variety of outdoor activities and independent living skills that help young adults shift their perspective of their future goals. Compared to other adventure-based gap year programs, wilderness programs offer intensive clinical support for those struggling with mental health issues and constructive skills to help young adults cope with stress, isolation, and self-doubt.
What Does blueFire PulsaR Offer For Young Adults?
- Adventure Therapy as the centerpiece of a program which explores personal growth through a variety of new experiences: rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, canoeing, white water rafting, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, horsemanship, caving, historical outings
- Base camps complete with yurts/Geodesic domes, cots, cooking center – all activities stem from this “home away from home” In the summer months each client has their own individual tent.
- Service work in the community which helps clients expand their worldview and think of the needs of others.
- Daily yoga, meditation and mindfulness
- Weekly equine therapy to develop healthy relationships and improved communication
- More therapy as therapists are “in the field” with clients four days per week
- Individual therapy two times per week. Group therapy four times per week.
- A family-centered approach involving parents in a comprehensive program to reconnect the entire family through a family systems process when appropriate