Thursday 14 January 2016

First term university blues.

A few years ago – more than I would like to admit even to myself as then the reality of my aging would really hit me – I went to University and soon dropped out.

During my A-levels the time came to consider my future. In all honesty I did not have a clue what I wanted to do. Having made a success of my education so far, getting good grades and enjoying doing so I naturally leaned towards carrying on my education by going to university. As I wasn’t sure what ‘career’ I wanted to follow I really struggled on deciding what course to choose.

Whilst I loved art and seemed to have a natural flare for it I let myself be drawn away from choosing an art course as I sadly had a number of people subtly suggest that it would not lead to a proper job. Even though my mum encouraged my art I ignored her support and felt pressured by teacher’s and career advisors to choose a more reliable course (their opinions I might add and definitely not mine now).

Having always loved children I decided that teaching would be ideal for me. With my aspiring career finally chosen I applied for teacher training courses for primary aged children. After viewing, applying to and being offered a place in a number of different universities in Wales I eventually chose a university not far from home.
The first term of university was a mixed bag of feelings for me.

Whilst on the one hand I loved the learning and prospect of becoming a teacher I felt a like a fish out of water and the pressure of being a good student and a future good teacher too much.

The university and course I chose was also the same one that a number of my friends from school chose. As a number of my friends were also on the same course I was fortunate enough to already have friends at university. Whilst it was great to have old friends at university, it was different from our time at school. I found we all soon drifted apart, our group of school friends was no longer a group. My friends were no longer as friendly with each other and found other friends. I found myself still friends with everyone and drifting from group to group but not really firm friends with anyone in particular and not really making new strong friendships. I don’t think it helped that I had chosen to travel to university from home where I had recently set up home with my then boyfriend rather than live on campus as my school friends had chosen to do.

With a feeling of being lost and alone, and my home life with my boyfriend and family competing with my university life, I was most definitely struggling.

After struggling for so long and trying to paint a smile on my face that all was well, I eventually confided in my mum (who has suspected that not all was well) that I was not happy.

Not long after I decided that I could not carry on. The course was not for me and I felt that if I did somehow struggle on and become a teacher that I would not be happy and that even though I would do my best if I was not happy then I would not be a good teacher and give my all to the children which would not be fair to them.

I dropped out of university just after my first term.

As I have personal experience of sadly suffering from first term blues and dropping out of university, I can empathise with the 27% of students mentioned in this article about first term blues who have seen in this New Year by dropping out of their course or are contemplating doing so. The article highlights a survey conducted by online discount and voucher codes site MyVoucherCodes, who found that the top reasons for students deciding to drop out of their course were because of the expense of university, not liking the course or university or feeling ‘disenchanted with further education’. For students pondering the decision of dropping out of university the article offers some tips on how to make their university experience a better one to allow them decide if staying at university or dropping out is the right choice for them.

At the time, for me dropping out of university was the right thing for me to do. Unbeknown to me I was on the verge of my dark days of depression. Looking back now it all becomes clearer and if I had not had the courage to drop out I think I would have really struggled and that my depression would have hit me harder.

Whilst the decision to drop out of university was right for me at that time of my life, I do wish I had gone back to university and furthered my education once I had overcome my depression but my life went down a different path, a happy one to my family, and there is still life in the old dog yet so I just might go back to university one day.

Have you had experience of first term blues?

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