I changed university course half-way through

Do you hate your university course but feel too scared to change it? Kenny took the brave decision to quit his medicine degree to become a writer.

True Stories

Kenny

"I knew I wanted to be a writer, not a doctor."

Being a medical student

Getting to watch cochlear implant surgery should be exciting for any medical student. But in my case, while two doctors were fiddling around in a human skull, I was checking my phone every twenty seconds to see how much longer until I could leave. I didn’t belong there; I was only pretending to belong there. The truth was, halfway through university, I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor. And I had to decide whether to keep lying to myself, or change course.

Parental expectations

Before uni, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’d always wanted to do English but my parents didn’t approve, saying there was no money in it. So I figured I’d just pick a career that looked well-paid, satisfying, and would make my parents proud. ‘Doctor’ hit all three so I decide to do medicine. I knew all the coursework wouldn’t be easy, but didn’t expect to find it as hard as I did. I spent many late nights and weekends studying my brains out, but still didn’t get good grades. I just couldn’t get the material to stick to my brain. By exam time, my grades were crap and I felt like crap, but I thought maybe a medical internship would help boost my spirits. Ironically, my internship was where I realized how little I wanted to be a doctor.

Every day I’d just go into work and do exactly what I was told, go where I was told to go, and watch what I was told to watch. And then I’d go home. It was fun whenever I got to play with expensive microscopes or watch crazy surgeries, but the rest of the time I struggled to get through the day. The other interns, though, practically broke their backs they worked so hard. They were so driven. I thought, “Wow, these other interns really want to be doctors. I obviously don’t.” It was a sad realisation that led to a sadder, scarier question: If I didn’t want to be a doctor, what did I want to do?

Making the decision

I had two choices-either keep lying to myself or do a different degree. Changing course would make the past two years of uni a mind-blowing waste of time and money. I had thought maybe I could hang on a bit longer until I made it to saving lives and making big money. But eventually I realised that though I’d hate myself for quitting, I’d hate myself more if I ended up being a crap doctor.

After a lot of long walks on the beach, I decided that the last two years were a worthwhile waste of time and money because they led to me finding out what I really wanted to do with my life. Despite my parents’ cynicism, all I want to do is write.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I was glad to be moving onto something new, but disappointed in myself for giving up. My parents took it pretty well-there wasn’t any yelling or tears. But I do have to deal with their constant disappointment and nagging about my future. My dad still tries to convince me to go back to medicine. It’s okay, though – they’re just trying to look out for me.

Changing to an English course

I changed my course to English writing and suddenly I was enjoying university. I was still studying my brains out, writing all night and weekend, but, this time, enjoying the pain. I’d spend hours perfecting a single paragraph until I was happy with it. I was hooked on lectures and class work. My professors told me how they could tell that I loved it by reading my papers. I started looking for internships that would give me experience in professional writing.

These past six weeks, I’ve been interning at The Mix’s as an editorial assistant. I get up every morning, excited to get into work. I put way too much time into every task, unfortunately for my editors. The day goes by quick as anything. Five hours feels like twenty seconds because I’m having so much fun banging my head on the keyboard until good words come out. My editors tell me that I don’t need to do any writing for them outside of work, but I do it anyways because I love writing.

Changing course is a major decision, and it can seem like the last one you want to make. But, if you figure out what you really want to do, then it can be the one of the most important decisions you make. Ever. I needed a couple of years and a lot of thinking to realize that. My advice is to accept the risks and regrets but to focus much more on the benefits. If you are anywhere close to thinking you need to change course just do it. You need passion in your life; its the greatest high in the world. I would know, because I’ve been high for six weeks straight.

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015