Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

University dropouts have nothing at all to be ashamed of

Advice for freshers starting university? Be nice to your halls cleaner. Cooked chicken is white all the way through. Don’t lie about how much sex you’ve had. Simple. Second and third years love to patronise first-time students with banal common sense. However, there is one particular piece of advice that I wish I could have told myself in late 2015 when I started at Warwick. If you don’t like it: drop out.

Receiving my graduation certificate gutted me. Though everyone else was sad their university experience was over, I was miserable with regret that I wasted the best years of my life somewhere I hated. Apart from my second year where I lived with five mates from Coventry University, I was unhappy throughout my time at Warwick. Having the certificate in my hand drove home the point that no degree is more important than your happiness.

Your job is to distinguish between the inevitable temporary demotivation and the mood-invariant feeling you want to leave.

I’m not saying quit at the first sign of struggle. Your academic, social and practical skills will be tested, which is the point of university. Certainly, you will feel like dropping out at some point. This is normal and everyone experiences this. Your job is to distinguish between the inevitable temporary demotivation and the mood-invariant feeling you want to leave. This can be difficult. Ask yourself: in the holidays or weekends away from university do you look forward to going back or dread it? Do people say you seem down when talking about university?

If you’re unsure about leaving, I’d advise you to stay at least one term. Many will settle later, so avoid rushing the decision. In this time, try different friendship groups, sports and societies, as you may stumble upon your niche. Have the mindset that you have nothing to lose; the worst-case scenario is you will waste a few hours in the company of people you don’t like and won’t see again.

Forming an arbitrary standard of what university “should” be based on the highlights people share with you is dangerous.

Avoid the temptation to use other people’s university experiences to gage your own. Well planned out social media posts and circus mirror exaggerations of funny stories neglect the frustration, boredom and sadness everyone feels at some point studying. Forming an arbitrary standard of what university “should” be based on the highlights people share with you is dangerous. Comparing my experience to that of other people is something I was guilty of myself. You may not realise you are too. Other people should be irrelevant in your decision making. Simply, this is your life, not your friends’ or family’s.

If you think Warwick, or any university or job, is not for you, then allow yourself some time to think before leaving. If you do then decide you don’t want to be here- leave. Don’t feel the pressure of others’ expectations. Use your gut instinct to distinguish between transitory frustration and more fundamental feelings. The reasons for staying when you want to quit are nowhere near worth being unhappy.

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