Student Saturday: When University Isn’t For You…

This is a really difficult post for me to write. I originally wanted this up last weekend, but last weekend was far too emotional, I teared up when trying to write, so decided to hold it off a little. I’ve mentioned how I settled into university relatively well a few times, but I’ve skipped over the fact that my boyfriend simply didn’t settle in. I’m not talking a bit of homesickness, I’m talking far more seriously. I’ll tackle homesickness another week!

 photo 10464251_10201833358628057_7137741447011300528_n_zpsd691dd63.jpgHis halls weren’t particularly suited to him; very loud; very “going out” orientated. His university was pretty built up with a lack of green space. The town wasn’t the nicest. He buried his head in his course, kept going and came out of first year with an extremely impressive percentage for an engineering degree. He also came out a little depressed, although at the time I’m not sure either of us realised. Fast forward a few months and he moves into his second year house. Off campus, with friends, although the house itself was quite frankly disgusting. It was then he realised that university wasn’t really the best place for him to be, he actually wasn’t 100% sure about the subject, and he had to leave. It got hell of a lot more dramatic than that, but long story short within a fortnight he has arranged to defer his second year and moved back home.

My point of reliving this is to give those of you struggling at university some advice;

  • Get help, talk it through. It doesn’t have to be a counsellor or a doctor, not even a lecturer. Even ranting to a trusted friend can help. Don’t worry about upsetting them either – I’ve spent many times in tears talking things through with my boy, and yes it was upsetting, but it helped him to have his feelings in the open. Bottling things up is the worst thing you can do.
  • Keep people in the loop. Let your parents know how you’re feeling, let lecturers know. Chances are your work will suffer if you are feeling down, so it’s important to get consideration for this.
  • Consider other options. You don’t have to leave university to make things better for yourself. Look at moving accommodation, commuting from home, or even going home every weekend. Whatever works for you.
  • Deferring the year isn’t the same as quitting. Deferring isn’t always an option, but its useful if you aren’t sure about your course but don’t want to quite give up your place.
  • Find some form of enjoyable activity to take your mind off things. It might be a society, it might be a sport, it might be visiting a nice cafe during your time of lectures. Just make some time for you.
  • Don’t hide in your work. University is more than just study, and focussing entirely on your work will cause burnout at some point.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. You aren’t the only one to struggle with university.

I’m in no way suggesting that doing these will absolutely help you if you’re struggling with university life, but I hope that they will make things a little easier, and make you realise you’re not alone. If you are really struggling, really depressed then things like making me time, sitting down for a cup of tea, heading home for a weekend, these won’t really help at all – you’ll most likely need a permanent fix to the problem.

 photo 2014-03-12134046_zps1b70aa94.jpgAs for my boyfriend, he went back to university on Monday, doing the same course, but commuting in his new little car. He’s found living at home is far more sensible as, for him, the lifestyle at university wasn’t working. I’m not saying things are easy! He’s driving for at least two hours a day, and isn’t too taken with some elements of his course. Plus there’s parts of the university lifestyle that are just unavoidable – including group working with lazy partners! However things are infinitely better than they were in first year, and this weekend is far, far brighter than the extremely dark weekend we had 53 weeks ago. Here’s to the future sticking like this!

 photo 2014-05-09174211_zpsc2453d48.jpgAlso remember – if you really, really, really don’t like university, it perhaps isn’t worth putting yourself through it. You don’t have to be there, and if your health (mental and/or physical) is suffering, there’s likely to be a better option to think about. Read my Blog Link up post by Rachel for another view on this topic!

How did you settle into university?

  • I currently have a friend going through a really similar thing and luckily, she reached out for us. I think there’s a serious amount of pressure on people to go to (and do well at) university, but some people aren’t ready for it, or it doesn’t work for them for whatever reason. It’s so important, as you say, that people make sure to make the right decisions to ensure they’re safeguarding their mental and physical health.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your boyfriend and, although this may not be the perfect solution, I really hope that this helps him get through university and serves him a really bright future, sounds like he deserves it!

    Sammy xo.

    • I completely agree with you – my sixth form made it seem like university was the only option available to us! Thanks for your lovely comment! x

  • Starting university is a difficult time for most people, one way or another.
    A good friend of mine struggled with his course, became bored with the content and gradually stopped going to uni.

    He came out of first year with a great mark considering the lack of uni time but deliberated going back for second year.

    Thankfully he came back and the shift to living in a house with others sorted him out and he had a much better time. I think his course content also developed and became more of a challenge.

    Sorry to hear about your boyfriends struggle, but it’s also great to hear that he has found a solution that works for him – good luck to him!

    • I think finding a solution that works is key to sticking at it, carrying on regardless just isn’t an option when it gets that tough!

  • I have to admit, I really hated university for the first two years. Now that it’s the beginning of third year and the workload is piling on astronomically, I am so glad I took a year out to have a breather. Sometimes a break is exactly what you need. Erasmus was a great way for me to do it without having to go through horrendous admin processes. I hope your boyfriend finds that things work better for him this time around! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua Italy

    • I’m already seeing the benefits of a break myself, having been on placement since July. University is such a different environment to everywhere else, so its no wonder many people struggle! x

  • This is a really good post! I myself can understand how he must have felt. I didn’t move out when I went to uni I stayed at home but I think if I did I would have had a very different experience. As I’m not one to go out and get drunk all the time and some people find that hard to understand for some reason.
    I’m really happy for your boyfriend that he was brave and did something he knew was right as I’m sure there are many who don’t feel as brave to do that.

    Leah x

    • I agree, I’ve been lucky and found some people who really do respect my decision not to drink much, but he didn’t have that. Thank you for your lovely words – he actually picked out your comment as being one of the loveliest (though all of them are lovely, but yours really hit home for him!) x

  • This is a really good advice post. I think a lot of people feel like they have to go to uni, and once they’re there thats it they have to stay, but there are so many other options or ways to go about things. Like you said, you can stay at uni but move home, or you can take a year out, or swap courses or move accommodation. However, if uni isn’t for you, you shouldn’t feel like you have to stay. I wasn’t sure if uni was for me or even what I wanted to do, so I had a year out before I came to uni, and this really helped me decide that I did want to go and also what i wanted to do.

    I think the most important things when you’re struggling with anything, uni related or not, is to talk to someone, I always feel a lot better after getting it all out. If it is uni related it’s important to talk because you don’t want your grades to suffer, or to miss out on things etc. This is a great post, and I hope it makes some people feel more at ease if they are possibly not enjoying uni as much as they thought.

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

    • University is so often pushed as the only option, which is a shame as a year out can develop a person so much! I’m certainly hoping it helps someone, even making just one person feel like they aren’t alone will make my day x

  • This is a really good post – I know a number of people who have really struggled through university and others who couldn’t finish it. However, they are still developing in life and doing well so no one should ever feel forced to stay at university!

    Emma |

    • I completely agree – it’s by no means the only option if you want to do well in life! x

  • This is really good advice.
    I have a friend who started uni last year and wasn’t really enjoying the course as it wasnt really what he thought it would be. He had to drop out from the course after the first term and started doing a different course. He is happy with this course and enjoying it.
    Things might not always turn out to be what you want them to be but it might really help if you ask yourself the question “Am I happy doing this?”
    If thr answer is no then it might be worth making a change.

    • You’ve summed it up perfectly – I don’t think there’s ever a reason to make yourself truly unhappy, nothing can be worth that! Glad your friend found something that worked for him! x

  • This post has some very good advice in it, and fingers crossed if anyone is feeling that way it will help them. When I was 17 I left home and I went to live on my own in London to attend drama school. At first I loved it but towards the middle of my first year I was getting more and more down. It was an extremely difficult time for me and I didn’t know how to handle those feelings and I felt very alone and that I had to stick at it for the amount of money I was paying to be there, and for the amount of hard work I had put into the journey to actually be there in the first place! (Which I guess for uni students would be the work they put into Alevels) In the end I finally let my parents know I couldn’t do it anymore, it involved lots of tears on my part but they were so supportive and it was the best decision I could have made. University isn’t for everyone but I think so many students feel so pressurised to stay at it, but in the long run if it’s going to make you so unhappy – what’s the point? Uni isn’t the be all and end all of life. I think talking about it and getting your feelings out there is the best piece of advice, it might be a temporary feeling, but it also might be a feeling that doesn’t go away but letting people who care about you know will be sure to make the decision to stick at it or quit much easier.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend <3


    • Whilst I’m sorry you had to go through that, I’m really glad you’ve come out of the other side. I think it’s so difficult to admit you’ve made a mistake in your decisions, but doing so is a huge relief…good luck in all you do, and thank you so much for the lovely comment! x

  • Firstly i’d like to say well done to your boyfriend for going back to it.

    Secondly this is a topic i feel i can relate to all too well!

    I graduated in December 2012… and I am 100% sure the two reasons i did it were a crippling fear of leaving it incomplete, and my now husband.

    When I went to uni i was lucky with my halls in that, although everyone WAS very much into going out, i had similar music taste to one of the girls in my flat and there were a lot of other engineers in the block that understood the volume of work and the fact it’s not always a good idea to go out. I struggled through first year, disliked the course but i stuck with it, even with resits.

    Second year i moved in with said flatmate and a girl on my course, everything changed.
    The area i was in felt dangerous, there were parties streets away loud enough to prevent decent sleep, i was already wanting to leave, but by the january of second year my now-husband had bought a house, i spent my weekends there when my housemates were often away… but by now i hated the course, i mean truly didn’t understand why i’d chosen it. Again I had resits, and more than one total breakdown. But i persevered.

    Third year i bit the bullet, i moved in permanently with my then-boyfriend and his best mate who was renting the spare room. Now, i genuinely think if i hadn’t met him i wouldn’t have gone back for second year so by third year he was spending every night and weekend doing his best, with no knowledge of the subject, to help me, and we did it. I don’t like to claim the degree as mine as it is just as much his degree!

    University is not for everyone, and surprisingly a lot of employers DO understand that.

    Good luck to your boyfriend and I have every faith that having realised that living the ‘uni life’ while doing a degree isn’t for everyone, he will be in a happier place and able to focus more on getting the degree and the good grade i’m sure he’s more than capable of getting!!

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment – all the comments on this post have really meant the world to me and my boyfriend! Its so wonderful that despite the difficulties you got through it, and gained what sounds like an amazing husband as a bonus! x

  • Starting university is definitely difficulty and there were so many times I questioned my path myself. Good luck to your boyfriend, I’m sure he’ll find out what makes him happy 🙂

    • Thank you – it’s not an easy journey to make, I don’t know anyone that’s found it completely simple! x

  • This is such an insight, really good post. I absolutely loved university and the typical ‘student lifestyle’ but it definitely isn’t for everyone! It’s so good your boyfriend has made it work for him though, a lot of people let it beat them if they go through a rough period at uni and give up. Hope you both have a fab year! x

    • Thank you! I love university, despite not having a typical university lifestyle, but I’ve seen how not settling in can affect someone and really wanted to highlight it here! x

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