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Student Blogs: Thinking of dropping out of university? Read this first.

As you reach the end of semester one, you may be questioning whether university is really for you. I certainly was at this point of the year. Between the homesickness, overwhelming workload, and university lifestyle… I just didn’t feel cut out for it. But it’s really important to remember that these feelings are completely normal, and that adapting to these changes will take time. Before making the decision to drop out, have a think about some of the questions below to work out what may be causing you to feel like this, and what your other options might be:

Is your degree right for you?

It may not be a matter of dropping out, but rather changing course. Perhaps the way the course is assessed doesn’t suit you, or you’re finding the content too easy or too challenging. Equally, your degree just might not be what you expected. And that’s ok! Go and have a chat with your personal tutor. They will be able to help you with any decisions that need to be made, and point you in the direction of further advice. This may involve changing to a joint honours degree, or moving to a completely different course in the next academic year. You need to do what’s right for you!

Do you need some more time?

Remember that deferring is also an option. You may still like the idea of going to university, but don’t feel ready yet. Many students choose to take a year out and restart their course the following academic year. This would give you the time and opportunity to think about what you want to do. If you decide you want to return to uni, in most cases you can go back without losing your funding or your place. Equally, you may decide that it isn’t for you. And that’s absolutely fine!

Do you like the university?

Those few months of deciding which university you want to apply to and UCAS applications are an absolute whirlwind. Do you want to go to a campus or city university? Big or small? Far away or close to home? But what may have been right for you then might not be right for you now, and it may be the university environment itself that is contributing to your feeling of not wanting to be there. If this is a case, have a look online at where else your course is offered and, again, talk to your personal tutor. Completely dropping out of university because you don’t like where you are is definitely not the only option.

Are you struggling with the workload?

The quantity and depth of work you have to do at university is tough and, unfortunately, there’s no escaping that. But over time, you will adapt. It’s unrealistic to expect this to happen overnight, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you still feel as though you haven’t quite got into the swing of things. Why not seek out some extra writing support offered by your university? Or attend some booster classes to really make sure you’ve got your basic skills nailed? This, along with working on your time management, are things that develop over the entirety of your course, and really need to be given the time to be effective.

Have you made friends?

While student life seems to orient around drinking and clubbing, it isn’t for everyone; this can make it really difficult to find other ways of making friends. Equally, you may just find that you haven’t met anyone that you have much in common with. This may lead to you feeling lonely and isolated. Why not try joining a club, society, or volunteer scheme? Not only will you already have a mutual interest, but this will also give you the opportunity to connect with people that you otherwise may not have met. You are not the only person feeling this way, so make the most of the opportunities out there to make new friends.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

While making the decision to leave university should not be taken lightly, your mental health and wellbeing are the absolute priority. Only you know how you are coping, and you are the only one who knows what the best decision is for you. As a first point of call, talk to a friend or family member about how you are feeling. Don’t bottle up any stresses or anxieties you have. You should then consider talking to your personal tutor. They will be able to refer you to a councillor or advisor who can offer you support and help, whatever you decide to do. The Student Minds website also offers advice and resources for those seeking support.

Are you staying on top of your finances?

For most students nowadays, this is a major area of concern. But don’t keep any financial difficulties to yourself. Talk to someone you feel comfortable with, whether this is a family member or friend, and seek out their advice. We’re new at knowing how to do this whole adulting thing… so don’t be afraid to ask for help! You could also go and talk to someone at your Student’s Union. There will be people there to offer support on budgeting, and point you in the direction of potential grants and scholarships that may be available to you.

Making the decision to drop out is big and needs to be thoroughly thought through. But also bear in mind that it is difficult to make such a decision based on the experiences of one semester. If you do find yourself in this position, consider some of the questions above when coming to a decision on what is best for you. If this does involve dropping out, have a think about what you would like to do instead. Do you want to try another educational route? Maybe you want to find a job, or complete some volunteer work? How are you going to finance this? Don’t let these considerations overwhelm you. Think it through and take your time.

Ellie is in her third year at Cardiff University, studying English Language. She also writes a blog ‘Forget the World’ about lifestyle and university experiences.

Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.

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