Lived Experiences of Dropout University Students: A Qualitative Content Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of Nursing Education, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Students face different challenges during their studies, among which dropping out of universities is one of the most complex of these challenges. The psychological status of students after leaving their university has received less attention in the field of educational psychology studies. The purpose of this study was to analyze the lived experiences of this group of students after leaving university.
Method: In the present qualitative study, 15 students with a dropout experience were recruited throughout a purposive sampling. The experiences of participants were categorized into different groups based on the content of the interviews in thematic analysis. To gather the data, depth interviews was employed by using online video call, and the data was analyzed through a content analysis method.
Results: The conventional content analysis revealed a main theme: helplessness. Accordingly, data analysis led to the formation of two categories: 1-unbelonging with three subcategories:( rejection by people in one's life, loneliness, lack of dignity among peers) and; 2-negative emotions with four subcategories: (shame and guilt, depression and sadness, inferiority feeling, hopelessness towards future).

Conclusion: It seems that the students in Iran with a dropout situation face unpleasant psychological experiences. The results could clarify emotional dimensions of facing with stressful situation in academic context. One practical implication of the present study is the necessity of constructing psychological ‎interventions for dropout student in the Iranian society in order to facilitate proper interventions to support these individuals and improve their psychological health


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