Changing university or course

Realising you’re on the wrong course or at the wrong uni can make life pretty miserable, but it’s not the end of the world. If you really hate your course, or just the place you’ve picked, here’s what you should do.

A girl bored in the library

Dreading your next lecture?

There are three main reasons why you might be having a wobble.

1) I don’t like my course

You could be churning out first-class essays and acing exams, but still hate your course. If it’s the actual subject that’s sending you to sleep, it’s time to talk to your tutor, careers, or student welfare to help you figure out what your next move should be.

Be prepared to explain why you don’t like your current course and have valid reasons why a different course would be better for you. Thinking and talking these things through will help you decide your next step.

2) I like my course, but I’m failing it

Did you get bad first-year exam results? It may seem easier to just quit, but you can work through it. Again, talk to your tutor – the more open you are about your poor performance, the better your chance of getting the help and support you need. You may be able to retake exams, or get extra help with studying if you’re finding the course challenging.

3) I want to change university

It may be more than just the course – it could be the whole set-up of your uni that you can’t stand. Don’t worry, plenty of people feel like they’ve ended up in the wrong place altogether. If you do decide you want to change universities, UCAS has information about how to do this. Your first step should always be to contact the university you have in mind to see if they’ll consider taking you.

Crucially, research a new university to check they’ve got what you need to make you happier – whether that’s a smaller campus, a different course, or it’s just closer to home. Moving is a big decision, so think it through and write down the pros and cons of both your current and preferred location.

It’s also worth having a chat with the National Careers Service. They can talk you through future careers and learning options, as well as offer advice on funding. You’ll most likely have to pay an extra year of tuition fees, so it’s well worth contacting the student loans company too. You’ll have to decide whether the extra £9000 of tuition fees, and an extra year of living costs, is the price you’re willing to pay to do something different.

Why moving could be the right step

Sometimes the realisation that you’re on the wrong track can send you in a completely different direction altogether.

Daniel, 18, hated his BTEC course. “The whole thing made me feel really unenthusiastic – like I was wasting the year,” he says.

After talking to his tutors, Daniel made the difficult decision to drop out. “I was worried I wouldn’t find anything else I wanted to study, but then I saw an Advanced ICT Apprenticeship advertised in the paper. I checked it out online and it looked perfect for me,” he says. “I’m so relieved I found something I really wanted to do.”

Why staying put could work out too

Despite not enjoying her course, Nicola, 21, feels finishing her degree was the right decision for her.

“I studied Accounting because people told me it was a good choice, but I found it a real struggle, with lots of reading for essays instead of just working with numbers,” she says. “I felt too shy to talk to my tutors about how I was feeling and it seemed too difficult to change course, especially as I’d already passed the year and didn’t want to waste it. So I decided to stick with it.”

“Looking back, I should’ve done more research before choosing it and it was hard to motivate myself, but I’m happy I’ve got my degree.”

How can I make my uni life better without doing something drastic?

Student life can be stressful at times, so there could be a number of things making you unhappy. If something traumatic is going on in your personal life, this could be affecting the way you feel about the course. Confiding in a friend, tutor or university counsellor can help.

Sometimes it’s something as simple as having trouble making friends. If your hall is full of loonies, and you haven’t clicked with anyone on your course, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet other people. Maybe get involved in a society, join a sports team or volunteer – all of these are great ways to make friends.

Next Steps

  • UCAS processes your university applications - from the very first form, right through to results day.
  • Whatuni? offers advice on picking a university and student life, written by students.
  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.




Updated on 29-Sep-2015

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