Thousands of students (over 20,000) drop out of university every year and November 12 is the most common day for first year students to drop out.
For new university students, the first term can be difficult to manage. Few friends, unfamiliar people and timetables, and a completely new place to live can make the first 8-10 weeks lonely, scary and overwhelming - around 1 in 16 students don’t start their second year.
Dr Lisette Johnston, ex BBC World News boss and Head of School at ScreenSpace, part of MetFilm School explains what options are available to young people who feel they may have made a massive mistake.
“If young people are worried about their course or university at this point, they are definitely not alone, many students are feeling exactly the same way.
“They might feel under pressure from their parents to persevere with the course; they might feel afraid to change direction when all their friends seem to be moving on with their lives.
“Dropping out might seem like a radical decision, but remember that three years is a long time and if someone is not enjoying where they are right now, negative feelings might worsen and these can lead to issues around wellbeing.
“If something has to change; then the sooner a decision is made, the better!”
Dr Johnston advises:
Don’t make a snap decision – you’ve invested a lot of time and money to get this far. Make a pros and cons list and consider your next move really carefully. Think about your situation when you’re in a different frame of mind. If you come back to the same conclusion, then you know you’ve got make something change.
Chances are there are a lot of people around you feeling the same way. Talk to them, talk to students a year ahead of you, talk to the person next door, talk to your family and talk to your lecturers/personal tutor. It’s important that you don’t keep your unhappiness and anxiety to yourself – there are lots of people who can advise you. Remember that it’s important to seek advice, but in the end, it’s your life and your decision - don’t let others persuade you to stay for the wrong reasons.
What are you going to do next? Do you need to retake your A-levels? Choose another course? Take a year out? Or, are you going to forget about university completely? If you need to research careers or look for an apprenticeship check out the government’s National Careers Service website.
There will be some financial implications – a percentage for tuition fees, your student loan and a percentage towards your accommodation will have to be paid. You’ll need to discuss this with your university – your personal tutor or the university’s student services department will be able to help you with these.
Pause your degree and take a year out. At many universities, you have the option of pausing your degree and taking a year out. This can be a great compromise if you want to take some time to explore your options without shutting the door all together. But if the university you’re at is the main part of the problem - this will just delay the inevitable. You’ll need to arrange to speak with your personal tutor to explore whether this is an option open to you.