DS wishes he chose Bristol over Oxford

(22 Posts)
specialcay Mon 06-May-19 20:25:12

I have a ds at Oxford in his first year. He’s not really enjoying it much. The work load was a big shock for him and he finds it a little ‘provincial’ (He wanted a big city as we’re from the country, so not being snooty saying that!)

He told me he really regrets not picking to go to Bristol. His best friend missed his grades for Cambridge and ended up at Bristol. He visits him sometimes and comments how the people there are much more his “type”. He prefers the nightlife, more culture, more grown up etc
He sees himself chained to the desk in the library whilst his friends don’t seem to do that much work. (No idea how true that is!)

I think he got swayed by the reputation of Oxford and having wanted to go there since he was young. So it seemed a dream come true, but in that time he’d changed as a person.

Has anyone else had a dc who has regretted their university choice?

OP’s posts: |
derekthe1adyhamster Mon 06-May-19 20:27:21

A girl I know dropped out of Cambridge to go to Brighton university and is now very happy

waltersdog Mon 06-May-19 20:31:00

My friend's daughter hated Oxford, couldn't settle and really suffered with her mental health. She left, went to Liverpool and was much happier.

BeautifulMaudOHara Mon 06-May-19 20:31:37

Yes and my son moved university and is now much happier. He got student finance which covered another three years, eg starting again. He also moved to somewhere his friends attended.

I can see why he’d prefer Bristol over Oxford, they’re very different places. So IIWY id help him apply to Bristol and move if necessary. It really is best to do it now in the first year and I think it’s probably fairly common p. Goodluck.

Xenia Mon 06-May-19 20:40:23

My son doing a BSc at Bristol works very hard. There may be some subjects requiring less work but it will be subject based (and student based I suppose - some don't work much anywhere). Cna't he just mix with people from Bristol in holidays etc? My sons (both at Bristol) have friends at other universities too - they can all still socialise together particularly out of term time.

DobbysLeftSock Mon 06-May-19 20:47:09

Used to work with someone who quit oxford after a year, moved to a different uni, she had no regrets. Didn't matter professionally, but it was teaching, I appreciate it will make more difference in other professions. What does he want to do after uni? Will an oxford degree open doors in a way that other degrees won't?

Dancingdreamer Tue 07-May-19 00:44:27

I am so sorry that your son is not enjoying Oxford. My DD has friends at Bristol. Workwise, they do seem to be coasting along in comparison to my DD at Oxford and still getting grades for a high 2.1 or a first (including the scientists). She also said that those doing the same course as her have covered the same amount of content but just haven’t had to do a lot of the extra work which Oxford demands. She definitely got the sense that Bristol has a chilled and fun vibe whilst still having good academics. Her friends do seem to be enjoying the city life, visiting the theatres and art galleries as well as the clubs. However, personally my DD thinks the social life is better at Oxford as it centred around the colleges who organise lots of activities. She thought the halls at Bristol seemed a bit dead in comparison to college life leaving clubs as the only option for a night out.

Interestingly my DD feels that of all the major university cities, Bristol seemed the most “provincial” maybe because so many students live around the Clifton and the Stoke Bishop campus which are more middle class suburban than “studenty”.


Muchtootall Tue 07-May-19 15:43:07

I am not sure what your DS is studying but has your son thought about transferring to Bristol in their second year? My DD is really enjoying Bristol. I like the phrase grown up culture as that’s how I would describe her experience. You do have to be more independent but once you have your legs, then it’s a great place to be. I would also agree that my DD is working hard but not unreasonably and averaging very good grades whereas her friends at Oxbridge seem under more pressure to get the same grades.

Dancing - please tell your DD from my DD that next time she visits Bristol there is a gay club which has straight nights and plays better music! No idea what it’s called though!

TapasForTwo Wed 08-May-19 23:40:47

DD's BF missed his Oxford and insurance offers on results day, and ended up going through clearing. He is having a ball and has no regrets. TBH I think he would really have struggled at Oxford as he is quite lazy and loves to drink and party.

Janus Wed 08-May-19 23:49:08

My daughter has recently left her first year, loved the uni but not the course. She has applied and will be going back to do another degree in September. Student finance will finance 4 years so it’s all doable IF Bristol has a space. Can you look into this ASAP as I think most units finish in the next month?

bigTillyMint Thu 09-May-19 07:06:04

DancingDreamer, my DD is at Bristol and has said that there's quite a difference between the student life for those our at Stoke Bishop compared to those in the city centre. She was in city centre halls which were not "provincial" and had a wide mix of students, many of whom who enjoyed clubbing and being in a more urban setting.

She has friends studying a wide range of courses. All want to do well but manage to combine studying with going out/working/volunteering, etc.

OP, if your DS is genuinely unhappy (is he doing well academically?) then he could leave and restart at Bristol but I'd say he needs to look into it seriously right away if he wants to switch for September.

And tell him to remember that First Years party hardest! The clubbing/partying, etc definitely lessens in the second year as the importance of achieving good grades ramps up, so he may find his friends are having a less wild time next year!

Moominmammacat Thu 09-May-19 08:25:10

Switch! My DH is 67 and he's still saying he wishes he'd gone to York not Cambridge!

Hollowvictory Thu 09-May-19 08:28:52

Oxford is a big city and has nightlife and culture! Sounds like he hasn't made friends.
But if he doesn't like it he can switch. Has he looked into that? I switched after year 1.

Needmoresleep Thu 09-May-19 08:46:53

I agree with BTM.

Second year is very different from the first, which for DD was a godsend. Her life is purposeful and busy. Academic work is ramping up so she is going to the library regularly with her friends. She shares a flat with three others and her social life seems to involve going to friends flats or to Wetherspoons, with only a couple of big nights out a term. She plays for a University team, which is quite time intensive whilst others are involved in drama, volunteering or working. To be honest it is not that much different to her brothers student life in London (though oddly her brother's University had a lot more going on on campus) or indeed that of a young person starting work who was keeping up sport or drama, except that Bristol is a lovely City and you are surrounded by lots of people of a similar age.

The people most likely to have had problems in their second year are those in the big "party" houses, where half want to settle down and focus on their degrees and the other half want to carry on as if they were first year. There have apparently been some amazing bust ups.

It really depends on why he thinks he would be happier at Bristol. DD did not apply to Oxbridge, probably because:

- she did not want the extra pressure of the short terms, lots of essays and being surrounded by high achievers. (The last is not meant to be negative, and indeed can be a positive - she was coming from a super-selective school so just fancied a bit more bandwidth.)
- she preferred the Bristol course which in her subject is more vocational and more flexible.
- she was not really interested in May Balls, punting, College stuff, gothic architecture, or tourists. Clifton is prettier.

She did not factor in the party reputation, which is why her first year in halls was difficult.

In short, if you are into your subject, you end up working quite hard wherever you are. The difference may be that at Bristol it is something you have to choose to do. There probably aren't personal tutors breathing down your neck, not thrice weekly essays, group work can mean carrying others or being carried. The advantage is that you don't have the pressure of short terms, the disadvantage is that the student needs to take responsibility.

The key question is whether he is doing well. If he is, then Oxford will probably open more doors, but depending on course Bristol could be more relaxed and perhaps suit him better. If he is not, he should remember that in Bristol, party people party hard. Not always a good thing!

Dancingdreamer Thu 09-May-19 10:44:28

BTM Yes her friends are in Stoke Bishop and moving to Clifton in the second year.

Muchtootall - I will tell my DD although I’m not sure when she is planning on going to Bristol again. She has a long list of friends to visit at various universities!

alreadytaken Thu 09-May-19 17:35:28

Yes I have friends whose children regretted their university choice. Both wanted the London experience but didnt like it, moved on and were happier in their new universities. However both had some difficult circumstances in their first year that made it easier to make a new application - saying you want to party more is not going to encourage a new university to take you on. Therefore if he decides to move on he needs to come up with something about the course itself that makes it more suitable for him.

Preggosaurus9 Thu 09-May-19 17:42:09

You can transfer your credits if you pass .. and pass well that will make it easier. Universities are always keen to have able students!

I transferred uni to start elsewhere on a different course for 2nd year, absolutely the right decision and not scary at all.

Katterinaballerina Thu 09-May-19 17:47:34

There is a huge workload, they do work harder and it is parochial. It’s also worth it’s weight in gold on your CV. Bristol is full of Oxford rejects.

Needmoresleep Thu 09-May-19 17:49:58


bigTillyMint Thu 09-May-19 18:01:06

Lol Katerina, DD and her friends deliberately did not apply for Oxbridge despite top grades. So they are not rejects - Bristol was their first choice and they love it grin

crosstalk Thu 09-May-19 18:25:55


I'm an Oxbridge graduate. I find your comment offensive. Reminds me of a woman who never went to uni but whose 4 kids went to Oxbridge saying there were really only two universities. Unfortunately she was talking to a table full of highly successful people most of whom hadn't been to Oxbridge, but had managed to get to the top of their professions despite that awful opprobrium. And the one to the top of a design school. I'd be happy with any child of mine who managed to get anywhere while being happy, tolerant, hard-working and loving.

crosstalk Thu 09-May-19 18:27:59


And it's worth ITS weight in gold. I wouldn't pick people up on grammar unless they're being utterly pretentious.

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