DS considering dropping out of uni(17 Posts)
My DS is in his first year at Bristol and is questioning whether he wants to continue. Likes the uni, lots of friends, likes his course - but just not that excited about the academic stuff. Wants to do something with food as cooking and food are his passion (has worked in restaurants as junior chef, been a waiter, worked in cooking stalls in markets, done a cooking course and generally loves cooking/food and doesn't talk about a lot else) and he is questioning the point of getting a degree as he doesn't want to work in the corporate world . He doesn't want to be a chef but knows that food has to be central to his work for him to be happy and fulfilled. Am at a loss as to how to advise. I loved Uni and also know how important it is to have a degree for many jobs but DH didn't go and is not too bothered. I tried to say that three years of Uni and a degree are more than cost and to get a job, but ultimately it's his life and his choice but don't know whether he will regret it (and wish we'd fought harder to get him to stay there) or whether this is something he has to decide for himself. Any crumbs of advice gratefully received.
What Degree course is he doing? It is at all related to his passion for food/cooking etc? It could be that it's not the right course. Does he have an end job or career path in mind? If he is wanting to be practically involved with food - a Chef etc then my understanding is that a lot of the skills need to be learnt on the job. Lots of companies, have apprenticeship schemes that provide qualifications and practical experience.
Is there an argument that his course will give him business skills? And just the breadth of education to assist him as he looks to launch into his chosen area later.
And/one could he switch to a course that's closer to his heart?
DD1 is training to be an editor at a speciality university sector college - so she'll get a degree but the content and style of working are strongly oriented to employment. That seems to work well as a balance
Sorry to hear this. Must be hard for all of you. Can he at least stay for the year do the exams. It only another 4 months or so left. By doing a year, I think he will still get something for it. Which means he can go back to uni later in life to finish it, if he wish to do so you never know but he will have some credits for it. In my day you had, I think 6 or 7 years to finish the degree if you left part way I'm not entirely sure if its the still the same now.
Has he chosen the wrong course? Or is he finding it hard?
Thanks all. He's doing an arts/humanities degree so lots of essay writing. He passed his recent exams and is not struggling with the academic side of things - just isn't inspired. He's worked as a chef and done some chef training - enough to know he doesn't want to be a chef - but he def wants to remain / be involved in food in some way. Until recently else was doing a p/t job as a chef but had to give that up as it was getting in the way of uni life and work.
I think suggestions of other degree course that are more hands on/practical/creative are worth investigating and I've told him to talk to his tutor too.
Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated.
The value of a humanities degree is the thinking and problem solving skills it gives you. It sounds as if he may well end up in some corporate or entrepreneurial role related to food. You only have to watch all those programmes troubleshooting restaurants and hotels to see how many ventures are sunk by a failure to think things through and apply some common sense. The problem with vocational courses is that they may give you skills that you can apply but that can be at the expense of the rigour in terms of developing thinking skills. That is why most graduate recruiters consider students with academic degrees, sometimes over those with vocational qualifications in marketing etc. If he is only going to be motivated by a degree that is directly relevant to his interest in food that is one thing but he should not dismiss an academic degree as irrelevant.
Would swapping to a business or hospitality degree be worth thinking about?
Many people go into careers totally different or unrelated to the degree they took. He says he won't go into the corporate world but things change and people change, its whether he will he regret it later. He's at a very good uni, that will open doors, would that still be the same if he went to uni lower down doing a vocational course. That's up for debate, but never the less could be the compromise he might be taking. What made him apply to uni in the first place? Maybe he should focus on the bigger picture to why he wanted to do the degree. If its retail type food industry I suppose you don't need a degree per se, even retail management as they would train you. But say he wanted to be a food inspector then yes he's doing the wrong degree.
Why on earth did anyone encourage him to go to university. It's not compulsory. He should finish his first year to get the credit points against the time he may want to resume studies, and then he should do what he obviously loves doing.
Don't waste his time, or his tutors' time.
Has he considered a career in food or wine journalism?
Foginthehills - no-one 'encouraged' him to go against his will. Like a lot of kids, it's just what is sort of expected as part of the whole education process and we/they/school doesn't always enable people to really question whether it's right. And to be fair to us all, he really wanted to go and was excited about it and does enjoy lots about it. He's not un-intellectual and is doing well - it's just that he says that he's coming to the conclusion that it might not be giving him as big a buzz as he'd hoped. Hence his long deliberations about whether he might have made a mistake.
I'm treading on egg shells as anything I say is wrong so don't know how to proceed except throw both sides of the argument at him and hope he makes a choice that's right for him.
All your points on this thread are really useful - so many thanks all.
Then he might explore a year of interruption/intercalation/leave of absence. If there's no illness or underlying reason for taking a break, it may be harder to organise, but he might explore deferring going into 2nd year for a bit.
I'd be encouraging him to
finish this year, so he has the credit points "banked" for the future - either a return to his cyrrent course, a change of course, or a change of university. Also so he doesn't
BUT talk to his Personal Tutor about his long term plans.
it's just what is sort of expected as part of the whole education process
This is what frustrates or exasperates me - this sort of attitude. It's a pity - a university place is a privilege, and should be only for those who positively want to be there rather than anywhere else (for whatever reason) ... it's why I think a gap year, for people to work at a real life job, is very important.
It's worth someone (maybe not you, but you could suggest he talks to his Personal Tutor) probing what it is that's unsettling him. To get into Bristol, he's obviously achieved well at high school, and you say he was keen & excited to go. So what's changed? Is the work's that bit too hard for what he wants to do eventually (that is, he can't see the long term gain from short term pain), or maybe he doesn't like the independence of university-level humanities studies? Some children who do well at school do so because they are next-to spoon fed, and find the adjustment difficult.
Someone needs to help him work out why he's so unhappy he's thinking of dropping out. Adjustment to university is a challenge - we recognise that. It's why in most degrees, first year marks don't count towards the final degree result. He won't be the first to feel unhappy & unsettled.
To get through it, you have to work out why you want to be there, or reassess whether you do want to be there. THat's OK - his Personal Tutor will have dealt with this situation before, it's not unusual.
Forgot to add: there will be people at university - his tutors first and foremost - who will want him to stay, and will try to help him work out how he can stay. Or help him make a planned and appropriate exit.
I wonder if it's a matter of heightened or unreasonable expectations. He maybe needs to talk through what he expected - what does he mean by "buzz" for example?
I work in an industry where both people with and without degree can be (and are) successful, but you can sniff those with a degree by a mile. The difference is just so obvious. You can work with those without a degree too, but tolerance, perseverance and ability to understand other people is not the same.
Higher education doesn't just teach you a specific course, it teaches you to understand other people, other industries, other points of view. If he really wants to make a difference, like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay or whoever else is his influential guy, then knowing how to work with other people is crucial to his success.
Sounds like he's doing the wrong degree.
You can change...I wish I'd left and reapplied but at the time everyone told me an academic degree was more useful I should see it through to the end...etc. It proved to be little use as in my heart I wanted something different.
Has he thought of food science / production? Both nottingham and Leeds uni do that it leads to stuff like creatively working on new food products and bringing them into production.
I think there is a lot of unreasonable expectations surrounding uni too, it's sold as Having a wonderful fun filled time all the time. That's not really true, maybe reality has hit and it not quite the dream he thought?
My DD doesn't enjoy uni, I think actually a lot don't. She loves her course though.
It sounds that the course he is doing is not the right one for him then. I think it is important to find a course that would combine his interest of food. So it is the problem how to find the course, can he transfer to that course. It also will depend on what his life goal.
University is not necessary, but it does broaden people's mind. Also, it is a preparation for your career. The trouble is your DS hasn't decide what he want to do. But he need to make up mind now, if he drop university, he immediately need to find a job. So what is his plan?
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