When deciding where I wanted to be, I looked at what I wanted to be when I grew up – a journalist – and decided to work backwards. I wanted to be a journalist, and to accomplish this I would need to study English or some variant of it at University. To study English at University, I would need to study it at A Level, to study it at A Level didn’t matter because it is a core module and has to be studied anyway. With all of this in mind I decided to take fun subjects along side my Englishes and I took Art and D&T at GCSE, and then took Media Studies (much to the dismay of my parents), English Language, and English Literature at A Level. I believed these creative subjects would help me to be a more creative person, and perhaps they would influence my writing. Take a peak at the reasons why dropping out of University was right for me.
With these thoughts in mind, I started looking at universities and found Queen’s University, Belfast. It seemed perfect. It was a Russell Group university, it was beautifully red-bricked, it had a perfect course: English with Creative Writing. This course combined English Language, English Literature and Creative Writing into one neat little bundle. I thought it was the ideal course for me and the more I researched the University and read the online reviews of students who had been there, the more I thought how right I was about going there.
I worked hard at A Level, passed my exams, and got into Queen’s University. I was ecstatic when I found out I had got in. I did more and more research and found the best student halls to live in and even found a few people on Facebook who would be going to Queen’s that September.
It all seemed so perfect
Once I got to Queen’s however it all changed. The people I lived with were kind and friendly and I got one with them well enough. But I never felt like we clicked, I always felt like something was wrong and that I didn’t have enough in common with them. I told my friends at home that I didn’t feel happy and they told me it was just blues from moving away from home. I agreed and kept at it, I went out in Freshers (and hated it), I tried to join societies and only really stuck to one.
When the first weekend came around, I found out that in Belfast most of the Northern Irish students would go home for the weekend. This meant that for about 3 days a week, the accommodation was deadly silent. I made friends with some Northern Irish students, but they would go home; and I’d be on my own again. I tried to become closer with the English and International students living in my accommodation, but with them being such a small minority, it was hard to find people that I shared that much in common with. I felt like I was having to change who I was to make friends.
I went to my lectures and I sat in my room. I talked to my friends at home and watched as some of them thrived and some of them failed at University. I felt like it was my fault that I wasn’t enjoying myself, that I should go out more, meet more people. But every time I did, I just felt worse.
It got to the Christmas holiday, when I finally told my dad that I wanted to drop out. I was doing the washing up and just said to him ‘I’m not going back to Belfast next year.’ It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t an option for me to go back, I couldn’t face two more years. My parents were supportive, they knew something was up because I kept coming home. I spent most of my loan for that year on plane tickets to and from Belfast. Dropping out of University was a very trying time for me.
I knew that I didn’t just want to drop out of university, I knew I still wanted to be a journalist and would need a degree to do this. I spent my Christmas holiday looking at alternative degree courses, I read a lot about dropping out, about transferring and decided that that was what I wanted to do. I had enjoyed the course at Queen’s, the English Language especially. I decided to look into transferring and found out that if I wanted to continue at a Russell Group university then transferring wasn’t really possible. I would have to start again. I decided to keep my options open and applied to the University of Reading and The University of Manchester. They both gave me the same offer: a 2:1. I had to complete the year at Queen’s, if I completed the year and got a 2:1 I would be able to either transfer into 2nd year at Reading or start again at Manchester. This was one of the reasons dropping out of University was stressful.
I felt elated with my choices and went back to Queen’s for my final term feeling confident and happy with my decision to leave. I still had time to try and turn it around in Belfast, so I tried. I moved flats into a different Halls, a move that caused me to lose my previous flat mates as friends – one even calling me a ‘two faced bitch’ for deciding to try and fix things. It felt like a completely new start going back after Christmas. My new flat was not particularly welcoming, and I didn’t really make friends with any of them, so I continued to live in my bedroom and work at Uni. I started working hard at Queen’s Radio and helped plan the summer formal. I came out of my first year with a 2:1, just. It was enough and after the year I had had, I decided to start university again. These are the processes I went through while dropping out of University.
I moved to Manchester, I went out loads in Freshers (hated it again) and made friends with people on my course. I now live with some of these people and will be again next year. I’m in a much stronger place in my life and I am even writing for Society 19, starting my career as a journalist.
Going to the wrong university really taught me a lot about who I was and what I wanted. However, I only discovered those things because I felt like I had lost them whilst living in Belfast. I am now a much more confident person, and I know who I am and where I want to go. University isn’t for everyone, but maybe the University you are at just isn’t for you. Starting again was the best decision I’ve ever made; it has got me where I should be: living, working and studying in Manchester. So there you have it, a look at dropping out of University and what the journey was like.