I have dropped the college this year but I am still studying/learning without college using books and internet resources.

WordWeb defines student as "A learner who is enrolled in an educational institution". But I am not enrolled in any educational institution.

So, can I call myself student or not? If not, what should I call myself?

  • In the UK, calling yourself a student would certainly not be advisable. Students are members of some formally-established academic institution.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 10:38
  • 1
    Not quite a duplicate. This question raises different aspect.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 11:42
  • 1
    It also depends on the context in which you want to refer to yourself as a 'student'. If it is for some official purpose (e.g. claiming benefits) then you need to find out what the official definition of 'student' is for that purpose. If it's for an informal purpose, you can call yourself whatever you like.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 13:15
  • 1
    As an aside, I don't know whether it is acceptable in Indian English, but college dropper & dropped the college are not correct in British English. We might say a college drop-out & "I have dropped out of college". (Dropped the college sounds as if you picked it up and dropped it because the college was too heavy!)
    – TrevorD
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


There are at least two common meanings for student

  1. a person following a course of study, as in a school, college, university, etc
  2. a person who makes a thorough study of a subject

The former is the more common usage in the US, and I believe elsewhere. The latter, which can refer to informal, self-guided study, is almost always followed by the subject.

The President is a serious student of economics.

If the term is used without a subject, most people would assume that the person being described was in a formal education program.

Also if there is no specific information about school attendance (or lack of attendance), people would generally assume that the described individual was enrolled somewhere.

AS to what to call yourself, I would suggest self-guided student.


One single-word term for a self-taught person is autodidact. I first encountered it in a translation of Sartre's Nausea, where a character named Ogier P. (the autodidact) is educating himself by (if I remember correctly) reading the entire publishing list of the Livre de Poche, in alphabetical order, at a public library.

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