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What to do if you are not enjoying your course?

25 September, 2018Andreas Beckwith

Even if you have done all your research on your course and university, it may be that when you start, it turns out to be very different from what you expected.  Considering the time, commitment and money involved, ending study is probably not a viable option, and it may seem that there is no other choice but to continue with the course even though you don’t really want to.

Changing course

A little talked-about option is changing your course of study.  Whether you are doing an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree, there are usually options to change your course at the same university. 

I found myself in that exact situation, after the first week on my Masters course I began having serious doubts about the course I had chosen to study, it was a lot different than what I had been expecting.  Dropping out didn’t really occur to me, and instead I started looking at other courses and found one that suited me better.  I made the decision to switch after the first week, and fortunately it was not too late to change. 

5-step process

Having decided I wanted to change course, I had five stages to go through to complete the switch. 

Step 1:  I found out if there were still spaces left on the course I wanted to do 

Step 2:  I looked at entry requirements.  While I had already been accepted by my university for my original course, being accepted on one course doesn’t automatically mean you will have the relevant grades or requirements to do the new course.  Another important point I had to consider was the cost, as some courses are more expensive than others, so I had to be sure of the financial implications (luckily in my case, my new course cost less than my original!)

Step 3:  I spoke with the new department and expressed my interest in changing. They suggested I sat in on one of the classes to really see if it was the right choice, and on doing so it confirmed my decision to change.

Step 4 I spoke to the admissions officer of my current course and explained why I was unhappy and why I wanted to change.   Then I had to get them to agree on the transfer. At the time, this seemed like a really complicated negotiation, but it is actually more of a confirmation procedure to ensure that I really wanted to make the switch.

I was convinced of my choice and both departments were satisfied for me to make the switch and it was no more than a formality. 

Step 5:  I then had to catch up on the reading I had missed, pick my modules, and I also spoke to my new tutors individually to find out what was expected of me.

Transferring to another university

Transferring to a different university in your first year for the same or a different course is rather more complicated being an external rather than an internal transfer. However, it follows similar procedures of finding out if the new university is interested in accepting transfers, entry requirements, and whether the universities can agree to the transfer.  If you try and change in your second year, it may mean starting the new course from the beginning, so make sure you find out all the implications of changing.
** It’s important to note that Masters Degrees are not generally transferable between universities

Seeking advice

If you are in a similar situation and are contemplating a change, it is important to take the right decision for you and your future.  I sought advice from friends, family, fellow students and also the university, and I found that some other students shared my concerns on the course.  While it’s a big shock when the course you planned to study doesn’t meet your expectations, you shouldn’t feel forced to stick with it if you don’t feel will be beneficial for you.  There are options for you to change track and do something you want to do.

For more information on changing your course, check out advice pages on UCAS and Prospects which cover several scenarios and options.