Final year - drop out?

(33 Posts)
Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 20:25:45

My son is in his final year at Nottingham doing a Maths degree.

He did well in his first year mostly helped by his A* grades at A level he suspects.

The second year he did really badly in, was miserable, buried his head in the sand about getting help and support and consequently failed a lot of his exams and then got even worse marks in his resits.

He failed the year but got an average of around 45% so apparently he was "allowed" back to go on to year 3.

He is now mid January exams and he is telling me after each exam how much he hates it and wants to leave.

Getting a Maths degree from Nottingham was his dream since he was 13 when he put the uni prospectus on his wall.

I get the impression that the uni don't want to help unless he sees his GP and says he is depressed. He is refusing to do this and honestly, I don't think he is depressed but I do feel he needs a bit of nurturing and huge impersonal lectures and being "left to it" aren't suiting him.

I think he is just miserable and every failure knocks his confidence a bit more.

I didn't go to uni myself, so I don't really know what he should do and have to trust what he is telling me as a grown man but I suspect he has not put as much effort in as he could do and I also suspect that as a quiet, shy person, he has not asked for much help and has fallen off the radar a bit.

I really don't know what to advise him.

OP’s posts: |
RedHelenB Fri 18-Jan-19 20:48:50

He needs to ask for help from his tutors.

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 20:55:30

He says whenever he speaks to his tutors they either tell him to see his gp or confuse him even more and he ends up more miserable.

OP’s posts: |
RedHelenB Fri 18-Jan-19 21:09:54

Maybe the degree is just too hard for hI'm? Odd though given that he got an A* at A level.

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 21:14:12

This is the conclusion he's come to. He loved A levels and did well and tried hard. I don't really understand why he's done so badly at uni.

OP’s posts: |
Widgeon Fri 18-Jan-19 21:18:48

Could he transfer to a university closer to home? Not sure if you can transfer that late, but it may help. Or perhaps he could change courses slightly.

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 21:30:12

I think he can only get another year of funding? He'd have to start again with second and third year?

OP’s posts: |


topology444 Fri 18-Jan-19 21:42:07

What are his options at the moment? What would he do if he dropped out now? Mathematics at University is very different from A-levels and since he has struggled in his second year, the third year will be hard. There is not much the tutors can do since they would have to go back to material they were supposed to master in their first and second year and it is nearly impossible to catch up with that much material in such a short time. I am sure for him it is like his tutors speak a different language! It is very frustrating. My advise would be to find a (good) fellow student and work with him/her and attempt the easier questions in each assignment. Usually fellow students are very accommodating but it takes something to admit to a fellow student that one struggles and needs help (and he needs to find one who does not struggle too much). He can also pay a PhD student who can help him to indentify easier questions in homework/previous exams and show him how to do these. There will be easy questions in the exam but if one is lost, one does not even recognise the easy questions and in A-levels one practices these questions a lot whereas at University the theory is done in lectures and then they will appear on one homework sheet.

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 21:51:05

Topology- he literally sent me a message today saying it's like the exam was in another language!

He's applied for a couple of higher apprenticeships over the last few days but they're top end city ones and I suspect will be difficult to get on to and this is not going to help his confidence if he gets turned down.

He says he can't ask for help because he literally doesn't know where to start with what to ask.

He also says the way of learning is different. At A level he just practiced questions over and over. Like you say, at uni, he needs to understand the theory.

He has only really made one friend on his course and he has bounced off him a bit.

The PhD student might be an option.

OP’s posts: |
RandomUsernameHere Fri 18-Jan-19 22:12:11

It sounds like he has got so far behind that he doesn't know where to begin to catch up. I don't think you can retake your final year, so it would seem that his options are drop out and leave with no qualification after 2 1/2 years, or carry on and try and get a third. If he does really well in his dissertation it will hopefully pull his marks up enough so he can complete the degree. It would be a shame to leave with nothing after all that time.

topology444 Fri 18-Jan-19 22:18:14

He should pick one or two questions of each weekly assignment and try to solve them. He may not be able to do it, so he should look through his lecture notes and find the relevant definitions, lemmas, theorems. Then he can go to his tutor and say that he would like to solve question x and has done the following but ran into a problem. I am sure most of his tutors will be delighted to help him during their office hours. The problem is if he goes there and says that he cannot do anything and has not tried anything because he does not know where to start, then the tutor cannot help him.
Every question he can solve and every passed exam is an achievement. It is very hard once you are in this situation and not everyone is good in finding help. It is very good though that he looks at options after/instead of his degree!

ClerkMaxwell Fri 18-Jan-19 22:18:40

30 years ago I had a friend in a similar situation to your son. She managed to complete the course (tutor helped her choose the easiest electives) . Scraped a 3rd, got a place on a postgraduate diploma for a numerate business subject. Did well enough that they let her do the masters degree and never looked back.

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 22:19:38

I agree it's a shame and worry how employers will see it if he leaves now.

However, I don't want his mental health to suffer.

The way I feel now I'd be over the moon if he scraped a third. How likely is it he can sit all his exams and not get a third?

OP’s posts: |
Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 22:21:33

Oh and he's not doing a dissertation, he chose to take extra exams instead.

OP’s posts: |
SpeedyBojangles Fri 18-Jan-19 22:40:06

He also says the way of learning is different. At A level he just practiced questions over and over. Like you say, at uni, he needs to understand the theory.

I think this is his main issue. At A level he used memory to pass his exams. At University level you have to apply knowledge and understanding, sadly it does seem like it's probably too difficult for him which is a shame.

Can he transfer to another subject and start again in 2nd year maybe?

Thebluehen Fri 18-Jan-19 22:46:03

I think he only gets another year of finance?

He could come home, get a job for a year save up a years uni fees I suppose and then go back to a uni commutable from home or do open university. Get the last years finance and then fund a year himself.

I think he's become quite despondent about uni in general though.

OP’s posts: |
moredoll Fri 18-Jan-19 22:48:02

He needs to speak to student services and explain the situation. Ask what they advise.

It might be possible to transfer to another course. He should ask.

disneyfan83 Fri 18-Jan-19 22:57:31

I did a maths degree as an adult, I did 3 years I. Chester uni and by year 3, I'd had enough, I hated it and found the lectures so confusing I was having to teach myself from random text books in the library. I then got pregnant and suffered really bad morning sickness but the uni didn't care (even after I was sick during an exam) I remember how disillusioned and depressed I was, I'd always wanted this degree so to be hating it so much left me empty.

Anyway a couple of years after having my daughter I contacted the Open Uni and transferred my credits, and it was so much better! So much more enjoyable! I could work, and use the local library, I wasn't constrained to lecture times and mumbling lecturers. The work was hard but the books were clear and the online community was awesome! I found bricks and mortar uni was full of cliques depending on where you lived/how well off you were, but the open uni has none of that.

It's not for everyone, my final years study was done over two, but failing uni first time round doesn't mean the end! It could be down to the uni that he's not happy rather than the work. It definitely was for me.

I hope he sees his way through, it is worth it, no matter what route we take xxxx

disneyfan83 Fri 18-Jan-19 22:59:39

Also - my degree was paid for through student finance and I got £1500 in cash to help me xx

MrsPatmore Fri 18-Jan-19 23:26:57

Although he is struggling, I'd try to do all I could to get him through the final exams; a tutor if you could afford it - can he advertise/afford for post grads to help or could you visit each weekend to give moral support? Something that would get him over the line. Encourage him to visit the GP - anxiety is a terrible thing and short term meds can help to relieve it (although they take a while to work). Look into transferring course maybe nearer to home.

AJPTaylor Sat 19-Jan-19 08:23:39

Just coming on to second student services. He can approach them online if needs be! He just needs to do it.honestly they will support him in making the right decision.

FlipF Sat 19-Jan-19 08:45:49

Did the Uni advise him to drop out of the third year even though he was technically allowed to carry on? I'd have thought it was extremely difficult to be able pull your marks up if you only got 45% in your second year. Depends how the marks are weighted. Is he doing well in any modules?

One of my DC did maths at a similar Uni and knew quite a few students including some of his flat mates who bombed out but still completed their degrees. He said none of them seemed to spend much time studying.
My son had to work ridiculously hard for his Maths degree. He loves the subject and puts in the work but finds degree level maths very very hard. My son found the strikes last year to be very disruptive. He was the type of student who attends every lecture and tutorial. he also didn't like the uncertainty of the situation. They kept being given different info on what was and wasn't being examined.?
I wonder if that contributed to your son doing poorly last year.

FlipF Sat 19-Jan-19 08:54:38

I had a look on unistats for BSc (Hons) mathematics at Nottingham and it looks like 9% of students graduated with less than a 2.2. I presume this doesn't include students who dropped out of the course.
This is based on last years cohort (I think)
Anyway I thought it might be of some interest to see that your son won't be the only one in this situation.

FlipF Sat 19-Jan-19 08:56:11


RolandDeschainsGilly Sat 19-Jan-19 08:59:59

OP - Im a mature student at UoN. I’m in Year 1 of Biology. They have been amazing with me and my MH.

Does he have a diagnosis of depression? If not, the GP is the first port of call. When he’s been, he can get a summary report for free stating the diagnosis and any meds or therapy.

Then he needs to go to his personal tutor, with the report (I would advise doing a few photocopies) and his Student Support Team - I’m going assume it’s the one near the Physics building (that’s also mine.) They can point him to the right support department - he will then get Extra Support for exams such as, extra time, sitting alone in a room rather than a big exam hall, and sometimes they will alter the grade boundaries so that for example 35% becomes a pass rather than 40%.

Have a look around that page and fire off some emails.

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