You know you should have switched courses when you had the opportunity but you didn’t. Now well into the first semester and it’s not the course you thought it was going to be. Here’s how to get on top of things.
Why do you hate your course? Don’t be too quick to throw in the towel. Try to figure out if this is fixable. Here are some suggestions.
- Talk to someone
- Why do you not like your course?
- Are you putting yourself out there?
- Are finances getting in the way?
- Are there other options?
You picked your course for a reason. There are probably parts of your course that you may not love, but you must complete them to gain your credits. Let’s look at why many students feel the only option is to quit.
Talk to someone
As with all moments of crisis, it’s important to take stock and not to do anything rash. You have worked so hard to get your college place.
You possibly have moved out of home and are in a new environment. So a lot of change and cause for anxiety. The first port of call is to talk to someone.
Every college will have some sort of pastoral care or counseling center. All of these people are trained for moments like these and are here to help you.
They will be able to aid you in whether you need some extra tutoring or mentoring or maybe just a friendly ear to chat with. Sometimes everything together – moving, new friends, new classes – it can all just become so overwhelming that the easiest option is to quit.
Once you start to discuss how you are feeling it may become clearer as to what the options are going forward.
Why do you not like your course?
Back in high school, you had classes that you enjoyed and this in turn led to your choices for your college degree. If you are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) led you will be doing mainly science and math-based courses, Engineering courses will be Math based and general chemistry.
But as a freshman, you will also have to fulfill general education requirements to progress through college, including an intro to college-level writing.
Many students find that the course they had in mind – pre-med, engineering – was not actually something they wanted to do but in fact a dream that their parents had.
Most students don’t pick their Major until the 3rd or 4th year. So if you are in your freshman year there is so much time for you to pick your major, there’s no need to panic.
So the question is can you make your college course more interesting until you can pick your major? Are there classes you could be doing that will get you more engaged?
There will of course be classes that you are required to take that you may not like or love but try and look at the bigger picture.
As you move through your college career your interests will become more focused and you will be able to move away from courses you lie less.
It is a good system in the US compared to most of the European college courses where you must pick your major in High School and study only your major from day 1 of freshman year.
Are you getting out there?
As I said, starting a university course, moving away, possibly from everything you know and find secure, is a hugely daunting situation. Possibly the biggest challenge you may have faced so far in your life. It may be the easiest solution for you to sit in your dorm and become withdrawn. But no matter how difficult it is for you, you need to get yourself out there. As we get older it’s much more difficult for us to make new friends. Remember back in elementary when you talked to everyone and everyone was included?
As time goes by we become more aware of ourselves and take on inhibitions that prevent us from being as forward as once we were. My solution for this is to seek out the loud people in your dorm and college course and gravitate towards them. They are your ticket to making new friends, getting invited to parties and all in all making your time in college a more positive one. College is not just about class. Obviously, it is important, and going to class is a priority.
But college is also about becoming an adult, trying things you wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to and your time in college will give you the opportunity to mix with people from all walks of life, with all kinds of interests and views. So get yourself out there, join clubs, societies, and extra classes and absorb it as much as you can.
Are your finances getting in the way?
Unfortunately, the dropout rate from college is more often than not due to financial restraints. Approximately 35-40% drop out of college in their first year and 50% of students take more than 6 years to complete their degree. Lots of students have either a student loan or a grant. If you have a loan you possibly also have a part-time job.
Sometimes balancing a job and going to college becomes too much for students. Your employer needs you to work hours that impeach your class time and almost 50% of college dropouts do so because they can’t cope with both. If you have a student loan, these often have grace periods, in line with you attending college. If you drop out of college, these periods may be abolished and your repayment of the loan may be called in early. Also if you are on a grant scheme – if you have not completed a certain amount of your course (usually 60%) you may then owe money to the school or to the Department of Education.
Your likelihood of securing employment increases significantly if you have a Bachelor’s Degree or Masters and dropping out of college due to a financial crisis may make your financial problem even worse. There are always ways of continuing your college course. Again the importance of speaking to course coordinators and counselors before doing anything rash is your first step.
Are there other options you can look at?
If you are at the point where you have exhausted all avenues and feel that leaving college is the only option then you need to have a plan. What are you going to do instead?
It’s terribly hard to quit college temporarily and think you are going to return at some stage in the future. Once you have a regular source of the money it’s very difficult to give that up.
However, there are options available. Transferring to another college is a possibility. This needs to be given careful consideration. Not all schools accept transfers. Many colleges will look at your current grades and won’t accept less than a ‘C’.
You may or may not be able to transfer your credits to a new school. You also need to really question if you are not happy at your current school, moving to a new one may not be any better.
So what else could be on the table? Have you considered a trade or apprenticeship? Many think of a trade or apprenticeship as less of a qualification. But the reality is that college is not for everyone and lots of people are really good with their hands and prefer to be fixing or making things.
The bonus about an apprenticeship is that they are in full-time employment and are earning a wage whilst being trained. Generally, apprentices attend class one or two mornings a week.
There is also the alternative of studying for a Bachelor’s Degree or Masters online. This gives you the flexibility to be able to work and do your coursework when it suits you.
However, you have to be quite disciplined to choose this route. It’s hard to have worked all day and then come home and have to start working on an assignment or to start studying. You also need to check that your ultimate accreditation is going to stand up in the working world.
There are plenty of different routes to take if you feel college is not for you, for whatever reason. But the most important thing is that you give it lots of thought and time before making your decision. It is after all your whole future that could be on the line if you pick the wrong avenue.
Talk to as many people as you can before your final decision is fully made.