Why it’s okay to drop out of uni

It’s scary coming to uni. I know that’s a huge understatement, and I’m sure you’re discovering this already, but it is scary. Like, there are very few other scenarios in which you’re plucked from the place you called home the last 18 years, a place with all your friends, all your family, your favourite pubs, favourite walks and favourite spots, and then plunged into a place without any of that. And there are even fewer scenarios in which you’re socially expected to do this.

It feels like it’s a big step. This is the step you have to take if you want to get somewhere. ‘Uni equals good job’ is the mantra we’re told from the start. It is, in part, true. A major portion of high paying jobs require a degree level education in the field. So, with that in mind, it feels like it’s make-or-break doesn’t it? You’ve already moved out of your house so there’s no going back. Right?

Well, not for the 6% of people who chose not to complete their course in 2015/16. And not for the increasing numbers of people choosing to end their degree’s prematurely, a number which increases among all the expected groups: black students, working-class students, students with mental health problems etc. With the increasing numbers of students applying to university, more are naturally feeling like it isn’t the only option.

A friend of mine in Sheffield watched the moment her housemate dropped out. She walked in on moving day with her family (freshly flown over from Bulgaria), looked at her room, shook her head, turned on the spot and walked out. Bye. It’s easier than ever, and more of an option.

My experience was a little trickier – various meetings with senior advisors, a couple of awkward phone calls to my Mamand, a hell of a lot of goodbyes meant I was no longer a student of Liverpool Uni. Big drama oooooh.

There’s plenty of reasons why uni might not be for you. You could be more homesick than you thought and just want to go home, you might have struggled to make friends, or moving to a big city might have been too much for you. Or, above anything else, it just might not be right.

I never actually regretted dropping out. It was an incredibly relieving feeling to be able to say ‘nah it’s just not for me’, and frankly I still don’t have a good reason why. I had a pretty chill group of friends, was moving fine through my course and wasn’t particularly homesick, but I just didn’t feel that it was all there, and it wasn’t. A year later when I came to UEA I could tell that I was readier for uni, my half attempt at a gap year had changed plenty of things about me, and I felt like I wasn’t as much of a little kid anymore (definitely still was).

For a lot of us, UEA is wonderful. But that doesn’t mean it has to be for you.


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May 2022
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