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12th November – Uni Drop Out Day

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We watched our friends wave their kids off to University this year. Proud, excited, nervous but with big hopes for their future.

But this year, like every year, thousands of students (over 20,000) drop out of university and November 12th is the most common day for first year students (freshers) to drop out. For new university students, the first term can be a shock. 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 explains what options are available to young people who feel they may have made a massive mistake.

“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. If something has to change; then the sooner a decision is made, the better!”

So, what are the steps to take if you or someone you know is considering dropping out?

Dr Lisette Johnston’s top tips…

Sleep on it…

Don’t make a snap decision – you’ve invested a lot of time and money to get this far. 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.

But what about the money?

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.

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