When University Doesn’t Go As Planned…

Starting University is exciting. Meeting new people, learning new things and possibly moving to a new place. But sometimes it just doesn’t go as you expected.

I first started University in 2014, excited and ready to take the first step towards my dream career. However, as I got into my first term studying fashion design, I realised I wasn’t enjoying my course as much as I thought I would. I hadn’t made any friends, I didn’t enjoy my classes, I wasn’t learning what I expected and I didn’t particularly like most of my tutors. But I told myself I had to work through it, I thought it might improve if I kept going. So I slogged through the first term, failing my first project. I managed to make it through the second term, improving my grades, and struggled through the third. But I made it and I passed first year. I was so relieved to have made it to the summer break, so I removed University from my mind and enjoyed the holidays!

But, three months later, starting back in the second year, I realised that I really didn’t want to be there. I still hadn’t made any good friends, I didn’t feel like I learnt much from my first year and I just felt in my gut that this wasn’t the right place for me. So I decided to take the brave move to leave this University.

I was lucky to have people around me to discuss my options with, family and previous teachers. They helped me realise that it wasn’t the course I disliked, but the institution itself. Their methods, and way of teaching didn’t suit me as a student, so I decided to transfer to a different University that was more suited to me. However, because of the lack of teaching I’d received from my past institution and the knock on effect that this had on my confidence, the course leader of the new University decided that it’d be best if I re-did first-year to consolidate my skills as a designer. At first, I was a bit unsure whether I wanted to do this, it involved going backwards and paying another year of tuition fees. But I decided that it was worth doing, as it was a place I thought I could really grow and really be happy in.

Although this was a tough experience for me, I’m glad that I went through it. I think it made me a much stronger person and I am much happier at the University that I’m in now. Hopefully, from my experience, I can help anyone else who feels the same way I did. I think it’s important for students to enjoy University, so if something doesn’t feel right, do something about it! Here are a few tips for anyone feeling this way.

If it’s the course…

If you’re at a University that you really love, i.e you’ve made good friends, like the area and the atmosphere, but you’re just not enjoying what you’re learning. You may have just chosen the wrong course! If you think that’s you, make an appointment to talk to the course leader about how you’re feeling. Usually, if you do this in the first term, they should be able to transfer you to a different course (if there are spaces free). If you’re in the second or third term, it’s still worth talking to your course leader to see if there’s is anything else you can do.

If it’s the University…

If you know that you love the subject you’re studying, but you don’t enjoy the way it’s taught or the atmosphere of the University, you may need to transfer. This one’s a bit trickier, but ultimately you’ll still need to go to see your course leader to let them know that you want to leave. But before you do this, make sure that you’ve secured yourself a space at another University more suited to you. The best way to do this is to try and get in touch with the course leader at your preferred University and see if they’ll allow you to transfer (you may need to go in for an interview like I did). If you can’t transfer, you may need to withdraw from your University and apply through UCAS for the following year – I don’t know the details of how this works so I would talk to the admissions team at your chosen University or speak to someone at UCAS. Whatever happens, make sure that you inform Student Finance (if you are a UK student) so that your funding is correct for you.

If it’s University in General…

You might get to University and realise the whole experience just isn’t for you, and that’s fine! Just make sure you’ve really thought about your decision and spoken to family and people you trust about it. Again, if you decide to leave University completely you’ll have to speak to your course leader. But my advice to anyone that decides to leave University is to make sure you have something else planned to do. Whether that’s a job, apprenticeship or even starting your own business! It’s important that you have something to wake up to in the morning, and something to keep you motivated.

All in all, the most important thing is to make sure whatever you do makes you happy. I know it’s cliché, but life is too short to go somewhere and do something that you don’t enjoy.


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