By Joanna Cunningham
University is hard; not only do you have the pressure of moving away from home, cooking for yourself, managing your money, and maintaining a social life, you also have to start your course, undoubtedly the most important part of your university journey. If you’ve never studied the subject before, or even if you have, it’s always a leap of faith, and with this, comes uncertainty. You may be wondering, “did I pick the right course?” – if you have that little niggle in your brain wondering so, whether that be 3 months or 2 years down the line, here are some ideas to tackle this problem for someone who has been there.
Firstly, figure out whether your course is for you. Most importantly, do you enjoy your course? I always loved maths but, joining the Cardiff University maths program in 2015, I hated it. I envied my friends who loved their subjects, and wondered whether I would ever feel that way about mine. I never did and, come summer exams, I did terribly; the mixture of hating my course, thus feeling unmotivated, meant my grades plummeted, alongside my mental health. For me, my mental health was most important, so I changed course, and the moment I stepped into my first history lecture I knew I’d made the right decision. I was genuinely interested in the information, and I wanted to learn more every day.
Next, look at your grades so far; if you can’t seem to grasp the mounting information piling up, this is another big hint. Your grades really do reflect your enjoyment and understanding of a subject – don’t ignore them.
Thirdly, will your course benefit your future career prospects? University is a time of discovery and self-realisation, and many people go to figure out their future. If you feel your course won’t benefit your career, change it.
Then, seek the relevant advice. Speak to your personal tutor or, if you don’t click with them, organise a meeting with a member of staff you can confide in. Look on the Students Union website for more information regarding changing or dropping a course – in the ‘help and advice section’ there is a dedicated page to academic issues. This is a great place to start.
Don’t forget to speak to your family and friends about your struggle, especially if your mental health is deteriorating – this will hopefully lighten the load.
Finally, If you have decided you want to change course, check the university website to see whether you meet their requirements. If you do, speak to the school office of the course you wish to change to, on the phone or in person, to register with the course.
Figuring all this out can be a daunting task but, from someone who spent an entire year doing a subject I hated, I can tell you that you’re not alone, and any hardship you face in changing course or dropping out will be worth it. At the end of the day, you wont regret it.