Choosing whether or not to go to university is a massive step in life, no matter whether it’s a decision you make as a teenager or later on . For some people, university simply isn’t for them, and it takes them actually going there to realise that. On average, 1 in 10 university undergraduates will withdraw from their studies before the second year of their degree, and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I dropped out of my university as my New Year’s present to myself, and I do not regret my decision one bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I did really try to stick it out. I realised as soon as I pressed ‘accept offer’ on my UCAS profile (the UK’s method of applying for universities) that I had made the wrong decision, but I did commit to my studies and work really hard for the first semester. I studied BSc Psychology, and I averaged 62% across all of my assessments. For someone with poor mental health who didn’t want to study psychology in the first place, this outcome wasn’t too bad. I left university for a multitude of reasons; the course wasn’t focused on a subject I would want to pursue a career in, I didn’t like the area, I had to commute to the campus (2 hours in total on public transport per day, which was exhausting), my mental health was declining massively and I didn’t enjoy the lectures one bit. If you are considering leaving university and have already attempted to continue with your studies in the hope that it will get better, or if you have already left university, please consider the following points.
You don’t have to jump into something else: if going into another form of education, such as a BTEC course or an apprenticeship, is something you would want to do in the future, please don’t feel as though you have to make a decision straight away. Allow yourself some time off, to break out of the habit of being a student and spend some time looking after yourself, figuring out what you might want from a future career and nurturing your hobbies and interests. The same goes for jobs: unless you absolutely must get a job to remain financially stable, please don’t feel as though you must be on the go all the time. In the UK, potential university students are given the option to defer for a year and take a gap year before beginning their chosen course. This is a great way to figure out if university is the correct decision to make, and you have time to relax following A-Levels or college exams. TWE have several articles full of information on gap years, be sure to check those out if you need to!
Don’t worry about the debt: in the UK, student debt is not a loan that must be paid back in full, it should instead be considered like a tax. Once you start earning over £21,000 per year, you begin to pay back this loan in tiny monthly installments in relation to your income. This debt is not a debt that could get you into any major financial trouble; instead, it is simply an amount that the government would like you to pay off whenever you are able to do so. It is nothing to be worried about, and it is something that will not affect your daily life in any way. And, most importantly,
You are not a failure: being a ‘drop-out’ after previously being a straight-A student is a tough thing to deal with, but it does not make you unintelligent or weak to leave higher education if it is not for you. If it does not make you happy, and you can’t see it being beneficial to you in any way, you have every right to leave that situation. Speak to your friends about it; like in any other situation, if they are true friends, they will completely support your decision without judgement. My friends have been my rock throughout the past few months, and they were thrilled when I told them I had dropped out (as were my parents) because they could see how unhappy university was making me. If anything, dropping out because university is simply not for you is a massive display of strength, demonstrating that whilst you still had the resilience to try and persevere through something that was making you unhappy, you eventually accepted when you had fought enough and realised that it was time to walk away.
If you have any questions, concerns or points about this article that you’d like to raise, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the TWE team or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.