£9k is a LOT of money by anyone’s standards. But for a course you might not even like, it’s an even more staggering amount to comprehend. As university students, this is made all the more worse by the amount of work we all had to do before even reaching our degree: slaving away for months on end, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with revision, all for three letters and a piece of paper and the dream of a congratulatory email (going straight on Facebook!) from the University of Nottingham that FINALLY, we made it. 

And then some of us go and blow it all away.

“Christmas holidays are the time of year most Freshers are likely to drop out of university”

Many of us fall into the trap of thinking our A-Level grades are the end product. For many, myself included, getting into Uni was the end goal of thirteen YEARS worth of education, and I gave little thought as to what would happen after that goal was achieved. (Surely someone just hands me a well-paying job and that dream happy-ever after, tapping me on my back and saying ‘Congratulations, you made it!’?) Uni was the final rung of what felt like a never-ending educational ladder, up which I had been climbing since the age of four. The 18th of August felt like the ‘best before’ date on the carton of milk that was my life, after which point nothing else need ever happen. I had made it.

And then came September, bringing with it the realisation that the shiny purple UCAS email announcing my admittance into UoN was not in fact the end of something, but the beginning. I actually had to move to University.

Lucky for me, the process was smooth enough. I bonded brilliantly with my floor-mates, and am so far content with everything on my course. But unfortunately, many students across the country are not so fortunate. I spoke to my hall-mate Holly*,  an architecture student, who had a very different experience to mine with regards to her course, disliking it so much that she made the brave decision to drop out just five weeks in.

“Gutted as I am to say goodbye to a close friend, I fully support her decision and wish her all the luck in the world for the future”

“I really wasn’t enjoying my degree,” she said. “It got to the point where I knew I couldn’t force myself to continue with something that was making me so upset.”

Architecture, building and planning degrees have a 7.2% dropout rate*, amongst the Top Ten highest in the country. For Holly, the realisation that this course wasn’t right for her was evident from the beginning.

“I had quite a strong gut reaction that things weren’t quite right, but I didn’t want to act on impulse. However, as time progressed I found myself enjoying it even less which eventually led to the decision I made.”

Gutted as I am to say goodbye to a close friend, I fully support Holly’s decision and wish her all the luck in the world for the future.

Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates are two of many highly successful university dropouts – uni isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of life

Sometimes, things don’t work out the way many of us would hope. Unfortunately in the world of Higher Education, this (literally) has a much higher price than most other false-starts in life (£9,000 in tuition fees plus £5,200 for accommodation, to be exact).

“at the end of the day only you can make the decision for yourself”

A word of advice from Holly to anyone feeling the same way, especially poignant now that we’re coming up to the Christmas holidays, the time of year most Freshers are likely to drop out of university?

“I would say give it a few weeks as it is a big decision to make, but if you really feel it’s not right then go ahead and stop. Listen to other people’s advice, but at the end of the day only you can make the decision for yourself. It’s your happiness that’s at stake.”

That’s a piece of advice we can take with us wherever we go. And it’s important to remember that, like A-Levels, university isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of life. Just look at that happy chap at the top of the page.

Maddie Ruth

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

*Facts and figures from the Telegraph.

Featured image: ‘Bill Gates. TED 2011’ by Gisela Giardino on Flickr (licence).

Body image: ‘Oprah Winfrey’ by Alan Light on Flick (licence).

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