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Anyone with experience of son or daughter changing university?

(29 Posts)
Onestep15 Sun 08-Nov-15 08:53:01

My DD is in her first year at university. She keeps saying it is not how she imagined it would be and although she has made friends is struggling to find people she really clicks with. She seems to have ended up somewhere she feels is very sporty and money/brand conscious - which is just not her. I keep telling her that out of all the thousands of people there there will be some like minds and she just has to look for the right societies etc, but it doesn't seem to have happened yet. She is not feeling passionate about her couse and Now she is already feeling under pressure to choose her housemates for next year and this is making her feel stressed as she does not want to turn people down but does not feel she has really found her feet socially yet. Things are made more difficult by the fact that she has had to come home die to v bad 'freshers flu' and is now saying she doesn't want to go back. I am encouraging her to go back and give it a really good 'go' until Christmas at least, but also do not want her to spend three years somewhere she is not keen on doing a degree she is not passionate about. If the worst comes to the worst I am wondering whether she should think about starting all over again next year. How do you go about assessing the atmosphere of a university before you apply? Any tips? Does anyone have any personal experience of universities that have a creative feel? Sorry for long rambling post - just feeling a bit unsure for best way forward.

SecretSquirr3ls Sun 08-Nov-15 09:16:26

Not my DC but a friend's. He did unexpectedly well in his A levels and got a place on a course in adjustment. He's a down to earth northern lad and it was a uni known for being a bit public school. He's one of the most sociable teens I know yet he struggled to find friends and he didn't like the course.

He gave up after one term. Went home and got a job for 9 months and restarted at a new uni on a different course this year which he loves.

MaudGonneMad Sun 08-Nov-15 09:17:28

What's your DD's subject?

Onestep15 Sun 08-Nov-15 09:32:15

History and politics - she was very pleased to get a place because it is has a very good reputation for that but I think maybe her heart isn't in it - maybe history with history of art would suit her better. She's finding she is missing the creative side. Thanks for the replies - have to dash out in a bit for most of the day so please don't think I have posted and run - will check back in later. Secretsquirrels, funnily enough this unoversity does have rather a reputation for being public school too!

MaudGonneMad Sun 08-Nov-15 09:38:33

Not many places do history of art so her choice will be somewhat restricted

TodmordensDog Sun 08-Nov-15 09:42:42

I changed at the end of my 1st year to be nearer home, and it was really simple smile

Figmentofmyimagination Sun 08-Nov-15 09:45:21

I'm not sure how it affects funding - especially given the new availability of a fourth year of funding for a masters (stop me if I'm talking rubbish).

My nephew was able to drop out of Birmingham after the first term and move to a different university for similar sounding reasons, about three years ago, restarting the following year. It made no practical difference to his funding because there were 4 years of funding available for all undergraduates (one spare for things to go wrong!).

I'm not sure whether there are still four years of funding - or whether, by dropping out and restarting the following year, you lose access to a full fourth year of "masters" loan. Something to consider, especially if she is thinking of history of art.

chandelierswinger Sun 08-Nov-15 09:54:50

I have personal experience of this, both as a student and now a uni lecturer. I left the first degree course I started mind you this was donkeys years ago, pre fees and have never regretted it. I left at the end of Semester 1 and started work, applying for a different uni/course at the same time. I felt like I spent forever at uni though (4 year course!) but it was worth it to be happier.

At my uni, we get some students who do exactly as I did; literally start afresh. This obviously has fee implications though, but may be the preferred option for your DD if she is after a totally different course. We also have students who transfer credits to us (assuming the new uni will take those credits) once they have a Certificate of Higher Education (successfully completed one full year in HE), which means they start in Year 2.

Either way, your DD will need to get cracking on talking to Unis and exploring her options as we've already started interviewing for 2016 entry.

In terms of getting a feel for a place, I would always recommend visiting on a normal day (not open day) and also asking to speak to current students when you're at the open days. They are obviously hand picked/employed to be there, but your DD can ask the questions she really wants to know the answers to. In fact, she probably knows more about what to ask having been at uni the last 6 ish weeks.

Gosh that was long blush

nephrofox Sun 08-Nov-15 09:58:04

I changed unis mid semester 1. Different course, different city but they let me start the following week so didn't "waste" a year. Had a bit of catching up to do but no big deal. Definitely worth speaking to admissions tutors.

raspberryrippleicecream Mon 09-Nov-15 11:25:34

My friends DD has transferred in the summer, She was late applying, I think at leastvJune. Her friends were fine but the course wasn't. She transferred into second year in an English Uni, from a Scottish one, do knocked a years loans/studying off in the process. The Uni still treated her as a Fresher, eg in terms of accommodation, and she had a ball at Fresher's week

Headofthehive55 Mon 09-Nov-15 13:12:49

Worth swapping if not happy. I think sometimes it just doesn't go right, whether it's jobs or courses or schools. Knowing when to quit and move is half the battle. I've been in loads of jobs ( moved a lot) and I can tell you you know within a few weeks if it's right or not.

That being said I think students have an idea of uni that the reality doesn't live up to most of the time and there is a big reality check towards the end of the first term.

The fun freshers is over, you are left, often lonely, in a city you don't know that well, maybe studying a course, well you aren't that into. It's grey and wet outside, and the room you are in is a bit small....

Try and work out if it's really the course, or if it's that she's not met people she gets on with. The uni can put her back in uni housing next year if she went to explain this to the housing team. I got another go in uni housing with a set of first years, not ideal, but it helped. Another bite at the cherry so to speak. That way she gets a new start but at the same uni.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Mon 09-Nov-15 14:18:23

I was a bit miserable in my first term too. I felt like a fish out of water and like I never got any peace and quiet. I stuck it out and in the end I had a brilliant time and have some very firm friends who I still see regularly more than 20 years on.

I don't know what your dd should do but thought a different perspective might be useful. I'd say there must be some like-minded people there somewhere but if the course isn't right then that's perhaps a different matter. Although it's still early days and often study is more enjoyable later when you get the chance to specialise in the areas you're really interested in.

Are there any support services at the uni that could help?

LarkDescending Mon 09-Nov-15 15:07:00

Changing my course in the first year of university was the best thing I ever did! I was lucky in that I was happy socially so did not want or need to move and could switch between courses easily, as it turned out. So glad I didn't stick it out till the bitter end.

Hope your DD can find a solution which suits her. If things are not right it really is better to acknowledge it as early on as possible.

jeanne16 Mon 09-Nov-15 18:02:26

I think there is also a lot of hype about Uni. Students are told they will have the best 3 years of their lives, etc etc, and when they get there, find that the reality is really quite different. Everyone else seems to be having much more fun and the actual courses can also be quite dull.

I warned my DCs to lower their expectations at the beginning and I think this helped.

velourvoyageur Mon 09-Nov-15 18:08:11

To be honest OP, she doesn't have to be passionate about her course, it's not the end of the world. I'm in my final year and I don't like my course and to be honest, quite often it feels like pulling teeth when I'm being asked to come up with clever essays about stuff that bores me to tears. I really like the atmosphere in the department and my lecturers, but miss living in a city. Second year was my lowest point, when I realised how little I was suited to the work I had to do. But it was the sensible option & I'm glad I picked it in the end. I also plan trips abroad to have stuff to look forward to. Once you realise it doesn't have to be perfect, put aside the pressure to have this 100% amazing experiences, it's more freeing, I think. We often internalise disappointment, when acknowledging it and moving on might be better.
Is it an option to book her a city break somewhere in Europe? It really does help me to have these short breaks. (I sound so spoilt!)
Sorry she's finding it tough.

FuzzyWizard Mon 09-Nov-15 18:09:53

One of my Uni friends started the course in January and graduated 1 semester behind us. She spent the 2nd half of each year on the course with us and the first half with the year below us IYSWIM. She'd gone away to a uni, had a really bad anorexia relapse that hospitalised her and then switched to my uni so that she could live at home with her parents for the rest of her course. The uni managed to accommodate her fine at that stage so it may not even mean a whole extra year... I've also heard of some unis accepting your first year credits from another institution so that you can switch and still finish at the same time. In fact someone in my halls of residence did just that at the end of first year... She transferred to another uni that accepted her onto their second year.

SueGeneris Mon 09-Nov-15 18:12:38

Another one who changed. I did it at the end of my second year but was really very miserable all that time. I'd have switched earlier if I had my time again. I think I knew early on it wasn't right for me but it wasn't until a lecturer said 'if you're not having a good time at university you're not meeting the right people ' and that hit the nail on the head for me. It didn't occur to me that I might have a choice before that.

If she really thinks it's wrong for her then it's definitely worth serious consideration.

velourvoyageur Mon 09-Nov-15 18:14:37

that said on my year abroad when I studied stuff I liked, it was amazing, I fell in love with school for the first time and totally changed how I saw my life....if she really wants to do HOA then maybe it would be better to look into that.

Headofthehive55 Mon 09-Nov-15 18:29:57

Part of it might be giving her permission to change, or look at other options. I didn't realise it would be possible to change once you started, and knew from the word go it wasn't right. I kept telling parents etc that I didn't like it and everyone kept telling me it would get better - of course it didn't. I don't think they realised you could change either.

vanillavelvet Mon 09-Nov-15 18:40:41

My experience was like LikeASoul's. I really didn't enjoy university during the first term and was very homesick.

I stuck with it though and ended up loving it.

It's difficult to know what to do for the best. Others have tried sticking with it and still changed a year or so later, so it doesn't turn around for everyone.

stayathomegardener Mon 09-Nov-15 22:33:36

When I started my three year college course I hated it and wanted to be at home all first term, second term when I was at college during the week I wanted to be at home, when home for weekends I wanted to be at college.
By the third term I didn't want to go home.

hefzi Mon 09-Nov-15 23:55:11

I suggest she tries to stick it out for longer (lecturer here), keeps going to everything, keeps up with her work, and reassess later on: if she's on a three year course, she can get funding for a second first year (if that makes sense). People often struggle for the first six weeks or so - I often tell my students not to go home in that time - and then it comes together. Since I've been Admissions' Tutor, we have had people fail to engage (not show up) but no-one has switched universities at all. She could think about also talking to her personal tutor/college tutor/chaplain/student services etc? At university, you think everyone is having a whale of a time, and mostly, they're really not. I fucking hated all three years of my undergrad, and it was astonishing to everyone, including me, that I returned to the same place ten years later to do a Master's (because it was the best place to go): I loved that year! There's a lot of expectations, especially now, around university, and it fails to live up to the hype for a lot: some people don't really get things together in terms of feeling a fit until second or third year, but I've only had one final year student in six years say that it was the wrong decision to stay - mind you, he had very serious MH issues, refused to take any time out whatsoever, and ended up, despite our best efforts for him, without a degree, so I do see his point.

I have also stopped accepting transfers into our second and third years from other universities during this time- it sounds harsh, but generally, someone who has had a problem at their previous university continued to have problems in their new university. Rarely has whatever was causing the issue been solved. But people who were doing the wrong course or at the wrong university for them coming into our first year - bring 'em on! We get a number every year, and all doing just as well as if they'd come to us in the first place (plus, they are really appreciative of our efforts, especially those we pick up from the RG university just up the road :-D)

Onestep15 Tue 10-Nov-15 00:12:53

Thanks everyone for your replies - it's really reassuring to know both that a change to a different uni can work, and also to hear the success stories of those who stuck it out. I am not sure how much to encourage dd one direction or the other. She seems more positive about the course today - we have been talking and the plan at the moment is for her to go back and look for societies to join where she has a chance of meeting like minds. She is going to give it until Christmas. I think it is a case, as a couple of people on here have pointed out, of maybe having unrealistically high expectations. She said 'it's an experience, but I don't know whether it is the type of university experience I want'.

scatterthenuns Tue 10-Nov-15 09:47:14

Which uni is it? A wise MN will have been there, and could offer some more specific advice.

pigsinmud Tue 10-Nov-15 09:52:55

I hated my first term at university. Everyone was getting drunk, there were boys everywhere (went to a girls school!) and I went home a lot....4 hour train journey back. I was (am) very shy and quiet, so halls living was a bit of a shock. The one good friend I made during the first term dropped out at the end of that term. I was really surprised and that sort of made me determined to carry on.

Second term improved and by the end of the third I was loving it. I would suggest, like you have, that she gives it more of a go.

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