Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects, January 2014
University can improve your job prospects and help you to make some lifelong friends but it isn't for everyone. So what do you do if you realise that the course or even the university isn't for you?
You have to identify exactly what you don't like about the course, to ensure that you don't end up changing your subject but keeping the same problems as before. Talk to people who are already on the course that you are considering changing to, in order to find out what they think and then you can compare it to your current one.
While you're deciding, it's important that you continue to do your best on your current course, by going to classes and handing in assignments on time. Then, if you do decide to stay you will still be on track and ensure that you receive a positive reference from your tutor if/when you need one.
You should discuss the situation with your tutors, as they might be able to resolve your problems by letting you change modules or give you additional support. Once you have spoken to your tutor, you should visit your university careers service where they can advise you on other courses and career paths. However, it's not only the professionals who can help with your decision. Your friends and family know you better than anyone and so can get to the bottom of why you are unhappy.
Leaving or changing your course will have financial implications and it's important that you are aware of these before you make your decision. If you have already got your student loan you could end up being overpaid and the Student Loans Company can reclaim their money. Whether you'll get financial support for another course depends on individual circumstances and so the best thing to do is head down to your university finance office or get in touch with your local education authority (LEA).
It's worth noting that the Scottish system for repayment of loans and funding will be different. The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will help you find out what you are eligible for and it's recommended that you contact them before deciding to change or leave your course.
You chose your course because you enjoyed it and were interested in the subject so try to make the most of it. If it's just elements that you don’t like, see what you can do to change them for example by swapping your major and minor subjects on a joint honours course. If this doesn't solve the problem then it might be worth looking at other ways of studying such as part time or distance learning.
If you decide that you can't stay on your present course and you want to change then you need to decide whether it's a different course or a different institution that you want. Find out what your new course involves and how it fits into your long-term career plan.
It might be that you want to stop studying altogether and go out into the world of work. If this is the case then it's important to take the necessary steps to gain credit for what you’ve achieved so far, in case you decide to continue your degree at a later stage. You should also find out how long your current studies would remain valid, in case you decide you want to return to study.
If, after you have all the information and have considered your options, you still want to leave then you have to make it official and notify your university of your withdrawal from the programme.
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