Around 1 in 16 students don’t start their second year
Thousands of students (over 20,000) drop out of university every year. Statistically, the 12th November is the date when first year students (freshers) are most likely to drop out of their course, just over eight weeks after starting.
For new university students, the first term can be difficult to manage. Few friends, unfamiliar people and timetables, and a completely new place to live can make the first 8-10 weeks lonely, scary and overwhelming. Around 1 in 16 students don’t start their second year.
Dr Lisette Johnston, ex BBC World News boss and Head of School at ScreenSpace, part of MetFilm School, said:
“If young people are worried about their course or university at this point, they are definitely not alone, many students are feeling exactly the same way.
“They might feel under pressure from their parents to persevere with the course; they might feel afraid to change direction when all their friends seem to be moving on with their lives.
“Dropping out might seem like a radical decision, but remember that three years is a long time and if someone is not enjoying where they are right now, negative feelings might worsen and these can lead to issues around wellbeing.
“If something has to change; then the sooner a decision is made, the better!”
Dr Lisette Johnston’s top tips for those considering dropping out
Sleep on it…
Don’t make a snap decision. Make a pros and cons list and consider your next move really carefully. Think about your situation when you’re in a different frame of mind. If you come back to the same conclusion, then you know you’ve got make something change.
Get some advice…
Chances are there are a lot of people around you feeling the same way. Talk to them, talk to students a year ahead of you, talk to the person next door, talk to your family and talk to your lecturers / personal tutor. It’s important that you don’t keep your unhappiness and anxiety to yourself – there are lots of people who can advise you. Remember that it’s important to seek advice, but in the end, it’s your life and your decision – don’t let others persuade you to stay for the wrong reasons.
Research your options…
What are you going to do next? Do you need to retake your A-levels? Choose another course? Take a year out? Or, are you going to forget about university completely? If you need to research careers or look for an apprenticeship check out the government’s National Careers Service website – it has lots of helpful information.
Worried about the money if you drop out?
There will be some financial implications – a % for tuition fees, your student loan and a percentage towards your accommodation will have to be paid. You’ll need to discuss this with your university. Your personal tutor or the university’s student services department will be able to help you with these.
Pause your degree and take a year out…
At many universities, you have the option of pausing your degree and taking a year out. This can be a great compromise if you want to take some time to explore your options without shutting the door all together. But if the university you’re at is the main part of the problem – this will just delay the inevitable. You’ll need to arrange to speak with your personal tutor to explore whether this is an option open to you.
Speak to your Student Engagement Advisor
The University of Bedfordshire says that it is not unusual for some students to think about leaving university. It provides an advice service for students, and the options include Student Engagement Advisors, Personal Academic Tutors and a Careers Service. A University of Bedfordshire spokesperson said:
“As a widening participation university our students can face challenging barriers to success. Many are mature students balancing the responsibilities of family and work with studying for a degree. Other are the first in their family to go to university, unable to turn to the bank of ‘mum and dad’, juggling commuting and part time work with their studies.
“We proactively look to support students as they start their academic journey along with offering specialist support to those who come forward and say they having difficulties with their studies. Along with regular events and initiatives that allow students to find out more about the support services available to them at the University and in the local community, any student who indicates they may want to leave their studies is strongly encouraged to have an appointment with a Student Engagement Advisor to discuss their options and further support available.”