The first few weeks of university are often emotional. You’re excited to be in new place, the next chapter of your life – for some, the first time living alone. But this change can also bring feelings of anxiety, nervousness and you may feel homesick.
Before we hit our twenties, we’re making choices that can affect the rest of our lives. Most of us will feel happy with our choice, after riding out the often-turbulent first term, we settle into our courses, our new routines and our new friends. But there’s a number of students who do not feel this way. They can’t shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be here – whether the course or the whole aspect of university is wrong – continuing is simply out of the question.
If you’re unsure of university, you’re dreading each lecture or think you should be on a different path, that’s OK. You don’t need to follow those around you. Dropping out doesn’t make you a failure and it is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, recognising your unhappiness and making the change is admirable.
So what can you do?
Listen to what your thoughts are telling you
If you don’t feel ready to be at uni, you don’t like your course or you feel you’ve made the wrong decision, the best thing to do is talk to someone. University is a big decision – it’s at least three years of your life and tuition fees are expensive – if you’re unsure, talking to someone you trust can really help.
The more honest you are with yourself now, the better and remember, there’s no rush to get a degree! If you take a year or two out, that’s fine, there’s actually no age limit on further education.
Talk to someone
Talk to a friend, talk to your parents. If you’re away from home, the last thing they’d want is for you to be far away, and miserable. You can also talk to your course tutor – they can help you recognise whether it’s the course itself that’s not right, or something else.
If it’s the course, depending on the time of year, you may be able to switch courses. If it’s more than that, consider speaking to the Student Services team, they can talk you through the process of leaving, if that’s really what you want to do.
Is there something you want to do instead?
You don’t need to know right away, but if there’s something you’d rather do, consider it an option. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to work straight out of school, nor is there anything wrong with taking a year out.
Consider other courses
If the course you’re currently studying isn’t what you expected, but you still want to study, consider the other courses available. Start with those running in your university – if it’s in the same department, it’s not normally too much of a problem for you to change.
If the course you want is at another uni or in a different department, you may have to wait until the new term or next year. Remember, while it’ll take some research and conversation, you’re not stuck and you do have options.
Look for work
If you’d rather head down the work route, that’s totally fine! Some people have had enough of education and the idea of earning some money, moving out and starting to build a life is more appealing. Finding out want you want to do in life is tough, and it might take a few jobs for you to know, but getting a job is a great way to develop life skills and develop as a person.
Take a year out
Sometimes a year out is the best option. After being in education for most of your life, you’re allowed to take some time to relax and process everything that’s happened so far. Whether you want to work part-time, go travelling or learn some new skills, go for it.
A year out also gives you the time to explore research courses and attend open days. Even if you’re not ready for uni just yet, a gap year can help you learn more about yourself so when the time comes to enrol again, you’re more prepared.