Should I Stay or Should I Go? Having Second Thoughts About University

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For freshers, it is week 3 of our courses. If you’re like me, that probably means nights out (at least, the seven-night-straight rampages of Freshers’ Week) are starting to dry up, overdrafts are looking a little more tempting, and course assignments are starting to pile up. All these factors might be leading to you some doubts that were hidden throughout the first couple of weeks in a haze of new people and experiences; namely, am I actually happy at university?

People often feel a lot of pressure to apply to uni in the first place, be it from parents, friends or just being unwilling to face the great unknown of not being in the education system that has provided us with a routine for the past 14 years of our lives. If you’re guilty of going into higher education mostly due to it being what everyone else was telling you to do, it’s natural that now those people aren’t here with you anymore, and you’ve had a taste of real uni life, doubts might start to creep in. If this is true for you, don’t worry; you aren’t alone in this and there are a few different ways you can deal with these uncertainties, from asking for outside guidance to making the decision to leave university altogether.

One thing to consider might be that the problem lies within a particular aspect of your university life, such as your accommodation or your course. These are relatively common problems and there are solutions for both. For help on switching courses, have a read of our recent feature What If… I Don’t Like My Course. If your accommodation is giving you sleepless nights (be it courtesy of an aggressively springy mattress or that one party-animal flatmate crashing through the door at 4am), the University’s Residential Services started allowing requests for room swaps on October 12th, so if you need a change of scenery just use their Facebook page to advertise your room and find someone willing to change with you.

If you’ve thought about all of these, and listened to everyone tell you to ‘just give yourself some time to settle in’ and you’re still not feeling any better about university in general, going in a different direction other than higher education might be the right option for you. ‘Dropping out’ of uni often has negative connotations associated with it, however it isn’t actually as uncommon as people expect; for some courses the chance of students leaving university without finishing their degree is 11%. However, this is still a big decision so it definitely shouldn’t be something to rush into. If you’re sure that leaving is the right choice for you, there are still some things to consider before you leave, for example outstanding fees that you still have to pay for your accommodation, lectures/teaching and updating your student finance. For accommodation and tuition, we pay our fees upfront for an entire term so if you’re still only at the beginning of either contract it might be worth sticking it out long enough to get your money’s worth and seeing if you change your mind.

Aside from all of the admin involved with leaving university, there are other, more long term things that need to be organised for your new future; even if you leave higher education your future won’t just fall into place from there, you need to decide what you’re going to do instead. I personally know someone who dropped out of uni this year – one of my close friends left after only 4 days of freshers. Although she still stands by her decision not to stay, having gone back home she realised that she should have put more thought into what she was doing in the future without any teachers or other guidance figures helping her or telling her what to do. Right now, she’s working to save up money while she finds and applies to internships in a completely different area to the course she would have been studying, and although she still has the occasional moment of crises, she seems much happier.

Although you have to make the final decision about your future, remember that you don’t have to keep all these thoughts to yourself, as an outsider’s perspective can really help you see things in a different light and remind you that you’re not alone in having doubts and problems. The university itself offers a range of hotlines and services centred around student wellbeing – we’ve all experienced general worries about living away from family, making friends, or just dealing with the change of being in a new place and these services are a good place to go to get some friendly, and impartial, advice.

University support services:

Peer Support peersupport@unionsouthampton.org

Nightline 023 8059 5236 / http://southampton.nightline.ac.uk/

SUSU’s Advice Centre 023 8059 2085 / advice@susu.org

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