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I am feeling really unhappy at uni - advice please

(87 Posts)
CandyPlum Mon 16-Oct-17 21:38:56

Hello,
This is my first post on here, and I just wanted advice on what to do/how I am feeling. I started at my university a month ago now, after being accepted through clearing. I didn't get accepted into my first choice after dropping a grade in a subject, despite exceeding the offer grades in two other subjects. I'd never visited the university I am studying at before coming here.
To add some background, I never really knew what I wanted to study at university however, the whole idea of going to university was pushed by my grammar school. As a result I settled on a subject eventually, not that I am keen or have a passion for any single subject. My parents also wanted me to go to university, since they never had the opportunity and believed I would be wasting myself if I just got a job.
Now I am here, I'm really not enjoying myself. I don't really like going clubbing and drinking lots, so I haven't made any really good friends yet. I only really talk to my roommate and a few people on my Subject course, and it seems all of the social activities are based on drinking. I know this isn't for me, and I'm feeling rather lonely and unhappy. I never thought I would have trouble making friends, as I had a lot of good friends in secondary school. I'm naturally a shy person, however, when I get to know people I am confident and outgoing. Am I coming off as cold, when in fact I am shy? I went out clubbing the first few nights however, I just felt so awkward and out of place, especially as I don't really drink much.
I'm also struggling with the work, something I believe stems from the fact I have no burning interest in the subject.
As well as this, I feel like I am buying unnecessary things at the weekend, perhaps in order to cheer myself up. I only end up feeling guilty after this.
Sorry for the rambling paragraphs, but I just wanted advice from mothers. Is it necessary to get a degree? Would you feel disappointed in your child if they dropped out? How long do you believe I should give the course? Do you know of any good alternatives to university, or is a degree a necessary evil? Did any of you feel like this when you were at university? How did things turn out? Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this, and I would be grateful for any advice. Feel free to ask any questions.

WhyNotDuckie Mon 16-Oct-17 21:43:14

As a mum, I just want my children to be happy. That's all.

Good luck with your decision.

Talk to your parents, your tutors and your friends from your hometown.

You're very articulate. You'll make the right decision.

Lots of love x

donajimena Mon 16-Oct-17 21:45:46

Do you mind me asking what subject you are studying?
I'm an old gimmer/mature student at uni and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. But thats because studying is something I do alongside my daily life (work and family)
I do feel for the younger element among my cohort. We are in for just two days a week so unless you are a clubber or party animal that is an awful lot of time to fill.
I definitely think a degree is worthwhile depending on what you are studying. Will you be able to get a good job at the end of it?

PosiePootlePerkins Mon 16-Oct-17 21:49:31

Firstly, I am sorry you're unhappy. I will try and offer some advice although you should be aware that my Uni days were a loooong time ago! (1994-1998, dinosaur here!)
It does sound as if Uni life may not be for you, especially if you're not committed to the subject you're studying. With regards to social life, the first few weeks of Uni are usually a bit hectic as everyone gets used to their new found independence and freedom. Things should settle down as studying starts to get more serious and you may find like minded people over time.
Having said that I am a firm believer in doing what feels right. You only get one chance at life and there's no point being miserable just for the sake of it. I stuck my first choice of Uni for 5 weeks, I was desperately unhappy, too far from home, and didn't fit in with the social scene. Luckily for me my parents were supportive and I went home, found a job and had a gap year, earning money and getting some work experience. I applied to a smaller college, closer to home, and was much happier there. I made some good friends and am still in touch with one of them. I have no regrets, it was the right decision for me.
Do you think you could be honest with your parents? Do they know how miserable you are feeling? I am sure they wouldn't want you to be struggling if you really don't feel its right for you. Also there should be student support or counselling if you are able to access it, which may be a help.
Good luck and best wishes for the future.

QuitMoaning Mon 16-Oct-17 21:51:07

My friend’s daughter phoned home sobbing most evenings for the first month or two and they had an agreement to wait until Christmas and then make a decision.
She decided to take up a sport (hockey I think) and that was the making of it and she graduated last year having absolutely loved her time.
Try something similar, promising yourself to get to Christmas and then you can stop. In the meantime join a few clubs, you may discover a hidden passion for something.

ThisIsNotARealAvo Mon 16-Oct-17 21:51:31

It's worth sticking it out to get a degree. It will be much harder to do it later. I felt exactly the same as you, I found it hard to make friends and went to a very arty college where I felt completely out of my depth. I chose the course based on the fact that I wanted to live in London, and several members of my family had gone there. It wasn't really the right course for me.

I ended up making only a couple of friends on the course, but met lots more people through I job I had in a language school. I sometimes look back and wish that I had made more of my time at uni, but now it doesn't really matter.

If you can, stay there and see it through. A month is still quite early days to decide whether you like it or not. If you were my child I'd be encouraging you to stick with it at least until the summer, then possibly transfer somewhere else (if that's possible). Hang in there, either it will get better and you'll have a good time, or it will carry on as it is and you will have a degree and can move on with your life! Good luck.

calamityjam Mon 16-Oct-17 21:53:49

I'm a mature student in my 3rd year at uni and mum of 4. My oldest 2 haven't gone to uni and are both doing well at apprenticeships. They both knew what fields they wanted to go into and felt this was what they wanted. You need to think about what career you would really love to have and often but not always there is more than one path to get there. If you could tell us what career you are thinking of we could help you between us old gimmers

Gaggleofgirls Mon 16-Oct-17 21:57:21

Yes I felt like this and stuck it out and got the degree. Something I actually regret doing.

It sounds like you're in the wrong subject and wrong place. Don't quit or make any rash decisions just yet though.

What is it you'd like to do/be when you've finished. What is it you want to accomplish. Ultimately that should be your goal and aim.

I ended up doing well at a degree I was neither passionate about nor enjoyed. I then worked for six months in this subject before deciding I really really didn't fit. Out of a stroke of luck really I got a job as a teaching assistant, had to take a pay cut and waitress all hours but I decided I was in the right place. When I joined the PGCE course I felt a definite feeling of fitting, these people were like me and I no longer felt like an alien intruder.

I believe you will find your 'fit'. What do you actually enjoy, what things are you passionate about? Get some work experience at different places, speak to people in different aspects of whichever career path.
Ask yourself if you could see yourself there long term? Also make sure you look at every stepping stone people have to take. Too many graduates expect to jump into a 'proper' role without the graft.

jemimafuddleduck Mon 16-Oct-17 21:58:58

You poor thing. I’ve been in your shoes, your experience sounds just like mine. I’m not encouraging you to drop out, you have to do what’s right for you.
However - I went to uni because that’s what was expected and all of my friends went. I chose a subject that I didn’t love but was good at.
Within the first week of feeling like I HAD to go out all of the time I was already phoning home crying. My parents told me to give it til Christmas and if I still wasn’t enjoying it I could change courses/leave.
5 week’s in I was desperately unhappy, homesick and just generally felt that I was racking up a load of debt for something that I didn’t love!
So I quit. They day that I left I applied for my current job and I’ve never looked back.
Do what makes you happy, life’s too short.

CandyPlum Mon 16-Oct-17 22:01:35

Hello,
Thanks so much for reading my post and offering your advice. It means a lot. I am studying English Literature. I am already part of a few societies, however they haven't had many meetings yet, hopefully things will become more regular later into term.
If I I did drop out (which I hopefully won't, and I will definitely give it more time), my alternative would be to go to secretarial college. Would this be a waste with two A stars and a C?
I think I am just feeling a bit unhappier today as I share with a very outgoing roommate who goes out a lot. She has been coming back late and being very noisy the past few nights, and I didn't have a good nights sleep last night.
I am normally quite happy being in my own company, and I value my private space and time however, I do just want one friend where I can have a nice conversation and a laugh with, someone to go out shopping with and exploring the city at the weekends. Hopefully this will happen in time. Everyone seems to be in groups already, particularly on my floor, yet I fit into none.

LegallyBrunet Mon 16-Oct-17 22:01:35

Hey, I'm in my first year of uni myself so I thought I'd comment. I would definitely look into joining a sport or a society where everything is not ALL based around drinking. Being a slightly mature student (22) I'm not a big drinker either and I've joined the musical theatre society as I enjoy performing and it's not all about the drinking. Also, if you're not enjoying your course I'd look into transferring courses sooner rather than later. If you're not passionate about it you won't see it to the end and then if you decide to go back to uni in the future it could make getting funding very difficult as you'll have already used it on a course you hated.
Good luck!

isittheholidaysyet Mon 16-Oct-17 22:02:16

Clubs and societies.

Clubs and societies will help. What are your hobbies and interests? (time to take up a new hobby or sport?)
That's is where you will find friends, and although drinking and clubbing will probably be a part of any society, they are a sideline.

If you are feeling homesick, do not go home. It will make it worse.

However, if you are really not into your subject you need to think carefully about whether to stay, (or change course). Is it worth it?

As a parent, I would not be keen to force university if it wasn't working. It is very expensive if it's the wrong thing.
As you don't know what you want to do, it might be worth stepping back to work that out and coming back to university in a year or six!

Talk to your tutors/chaplain/student welfare, as well as your parents.

QuestionableMouse Mon 16-Oct-17 22:03:09

What course are you doing? Talk to your personal tutor if you like the uni because you might be able to swap course.

Try to speak to people, even if it's just saying hi and smiling. There are plenty of people who feel like you do!

I don't drink either so I understand what you're saying. Most unis have a range of clubs. Can you see if one interests you and join?

Junglefowl Mon 16-Oct-17 22:03:23

im so sorry you're finding it hard and you sound very mature as so many students do overdo the drinking side of things and it must be really dampening if that's all a lot of people do to socialise. My first thought , if you want to keep giving things a go, is are there any clubs you could join? I made friends through sports teams for example and found them easier to get into than at school.
Also once you're in you can often change subjects, im not saying that will make it any better but wonder if you'd want to consider anything else.
If I were your mum like someone else said I would want you happy and above all I'd want the right thing for you, not for our expectations or anything else. Following what your heart is telling you is often the safest thing and my friend who dropped out of uni went on to do so well she's mentioned in the news even as was much better suited to work than studying and happier.

You asked lots of thoughtful questions I haven't answered as have an early start tomorrow but hopefully someone else will and hang on in there- I found your stage of life quite bewildering at times and if you have a good relationship with your parents do tell them how you feel and discuss it all. I hope they'd appreciate it and want to help as much as possible

Junglefowl Mon 16-Oct-17 22:07:00

Ps in terms of alternatives to uni, I learnt far more relevant stuff on a graduate training scheme in my first job. I am aware some careers will favour graduates (mine was in book publishing) but if you know what you might want to do career wise there often might be a more direct route or possibility of learning on the job?

CandyPlum Mon 16-Oct-17 22:07:10

This is my problem. I have no idea what to do...and I say that completely seriously. It really got me down last year when I was picking a degree course. I really have absolutely no clue what to do with my life 😥 it actually became a running joke between my group of friends that I was always in the careers office, having careers advice! The lady, although lovely, was completely useless and I still have no idea what to do. I think it would really help me if I had some direction and focus.
Perhaps you could give me some pointers based on my A Level results and interests? I would be grateful for any advice, and thanks again for the advice given previously. My two A Stars were in Fine Art and English Literature. My C was in Geography. I love reading, walking, painting and shopping.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Mon 16-Oct-17 22:08:46

Are you at a Scottish university? I only ask because they go back early, and they're often pretty flexible in first year.

I cried pretty much every day until Christmas, but ended up staying for a PhD! I agree societies can be helpful - my best friends and flatmates were from my societies.

SummerKelly Mon 16-Oct-17 22:10:03

I dropped out of my first uni course (wrong subject), studied and worked for a year then went back to do something I wanted to do. If it was just about the friends, I’d say hang on in there, you’ll find something / someone in the end - you could even look outside the Uni if you have time - but the fact you don’t want to do your course particularly makes me wonder whether you might be better working for a bit until it’s apparent what you do want to do and then thinking about further study. My DD isn’t keen on uni at the moment and I will tell her she has plenty of time to go in the future if that’s what she wants, I’d rather she waited until she is clearer what she wants to do. I guess you need to disentangle the two factors - if you had friends would the course be okay? If you could wave a magic wand and be back at the decision making time about uni knowing what you know now, what would you decide to do? Could you swap courses? Also talk to the support staff there, it’s what they are there for and will have loads of experience dealing with exactly this sort of thing. Good luck.

CandyPlum Mon 16-Oct-17 22:10:52

@Gaggleofgirls
I was actually looking into applying for a volunteering teaching assistant role through the university in the spring term. I'll definitely give it a go now 😊

Chickoletta Mon 16-Oct-17 22:12:26

I felt very similarly to you in my first few weeks at uni and was also desperately missing my old friends and boyfriend, many of whom were still at home on gap years. I stuck it out and it got easier week by week. Towards the end of my first year I met someone who remains my best friend to this day.

Other posters have given good advice - join lots of clubs, particularly ones that don't revolve around drinking. I joined a community volunteering group and made some great friends through that and also filled my weekends. Would you consider getting a job? I studied Eng Lit too and found that having so much free time made it hard. Doing a few shifts a week in a supermarket/MacDonalds would help pass the time and earn you some cash.

When you say 'roommate', do you actually mean that you share a room? Very few unis still do this as lost people would struggle with the lack of privacy - I certainly couldn't have coped with this. Is it worth speaking to someone in your halls and asking about moving rooms? I had my own room but found it difficult to sleep not knowing when flat mates were going to come banging in and out - earplugs and a room swap to the top floor helped with that.

I hope you'll be feeling better about everything soon - you'd be surprised to know how many other people are feeling exactly like you. Good luck.

ToffeePenny Mon 16-Oct-17 22:12:46

I felt exactly the same at my first university, stuck it out for 2 terms (spending my cash on running away to visit friends who were happy at their universities at weekends) before giving up. Turned out it was the wrong place and the wrong course for me - I had just drifted into both by accident as it was a top uni and a solid subject with good career prospects so seemed the right thing to do.
What sticking it out did give me was time to work out what I was really interested in (something arty with no solid career prospects that my parents really hated the thought of) and I went into clearing the following year, getting a place in a much smaller (still good but not famous) uni.
By doing something that interested me and in a smaller campus I was happy (fortunately by the time I left I’d found career options I’d previously been unaware of but were closed to non grads).
It all ended very well - at my first job (grad training programme) I met DH who had come there through an almost identical route - dropped out of great uni after 1 year of a sensible course and moved to a normal one to read something he was interested in.

So my advice - use this time to look into other subjects and talk to professors of other depts to work out what you really are interested in (maybe even join one of the lectures to get a taste). If, after research there is still nothing for you then you can leave and find a new path with no regrets. If you do find something to ignite your interest then I heartily recommend a small university on the west coast of wales smile

TealStar Mon 16-Oct-17 22:13:46

As someone who did an utterly irrelevant degree after finishing school and only finding her true vocation later in life (which meant studying for another degree in my thirties!) I often say that I wish I'd not felt pressured or rushed into doing my first degree. Thank god I don't have a tuition fee loan hanging over me.... what a waste of investment that would be!
I only discovered what I wanted to do after getting out into the big wide world and working. The industry i entered initially was competitive and I started right at the bottom. I could argue that almost anyone with half a brain and a good attitude could have walked into my first job. What I then went on to do was work bloody hard to get promoted. I don't think I needed the degree at all and I have never since used it!
I wish I'd done my second degree sooner as it was relevant to my role now. I will be telling my children (who aren't much younger than you) to only do a degree from school if it is their passion or their true calling. Otherwise, get out into the world, live a bit, and think about doing a more career-focused degree later.

QuestionableMouse Mon 16-Oct-17 22:14:58

What are you doing at uni? How old are you?

If you're still in your teens, my advice would be to take the year off and work. See if you can narrow down things you like and dislike and then go from there.

Chickoletta Mon 16-Oct-17 22:16:08

*lots of people

CandyPlum Mon 16-Oct-17 22:16:59

No, I am not at a Scottish university. St. Andrews was actually my first choice which I didn't get into. I am originally from the South East, and I am studying at a university up north.
The thing is, I am not actually feeling homesick as I talk to my family regularly. It's just the course and the loneliness that is getting to me. I can't switch courses, as I have no real passion, what would I switch to?My family are coming up for a weekend in a few weeks time, so I will talk to them more then about how I am feeling. Did anyone else feel directionless at my age? Did you eventually find your passion?
Despite a lot of posters here saying it is mature not to go out clubbing/drinking, I actually think people view it the opposite way: that I am immature because i don't really enjoy drinking and clubbing. Particularly as I think I look quite young for my age.

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