Health and Wellbeing, More, Student Stories

I‘m at risk of dropping out of University because I’m unhappy.

Eleanor from Student Counselling responds to a student dilemma…

“I’m really struggling to settle back into Uni after the Summer. I’m finding the demands of 2nd year really challenging already and I’m not enjoying the work at the moment. I usually do really well but I didn’t do that well in my summer exams it’s knocked my confidence and motivation. I am struggling with my energy levels too because I have to work at weekends and when I do get time to chill I just can’t relax. I’m really worried that if this carries on I might drop out of uni all together, but that idea fills me with dread.”

I get a real sense of the strain you are under here and I don’t think you are alone in finding it tough returning to University after the summer break, even without any additional concerns.

You say you’re not enjoying your studies ‘at the moment’, which suggests that you do normally and that perhaps it’s a combination of factors, including the increased workload, that are inhibiting your ability to fully engage and get the most out of it.

It can certainly be challenging when we are faced with set-backs or lower grades than we’re accustomed to. The rigors and demands of University are a new challenge, so it can be very unhelpful to compare how you performed at secondary school or college with University performance. This may surprise you, but university isn’t just about academic achievement – it also provides the space and opportunity to learn how to study in a new way (less regular schedule and more self-guided study included) and also how to manage set-backs and navigate some of life’s obstacles away from home and the school system you’re accustomed to – with support of University staff and your new friends around you.  You’re having to learn to study and manage your time in a very different way so the fact that you passed your 1st year is great news and you can feel proud of that achievement. Keep in mind that we often learn a great deal through our set-backs, struggles and failures. A quote I find very helpful, by Truman Capote is that ‘Failure is the condiment that gives success it’s flavour.’.

If you are anxious about your studies then perhaps consider attending study skills classes or create study groups with friends within your cohort. 

It seems as though if you were to have a little more free time you would be able to manage your overall wellbeing more effectively and spend a little more time on self-care. Ideally you wouldn’t have to work so much outside of University – so consider booking an appointment with Advice and Money, who can help you with budgeting and exploring any other funding avenues that may be applicable to you and your circumstances.

However, self-care can be practiced even during the busiest periods – just in smaller ways. For instance, grounding or Mindfulness activities. Take a look at our intranet self-help pages for ways you can engage in mindful practice in your day-to-day life. Positive affirmations (which contributes to nurturing what I like to refer to as our inner cheerleader), self-compassion (talking kindly with ones self with patience and understanding in a way you would with a good friend if they were struggling) stretching and nutrient-rich snacks.

It sounds as though there is a lot of self-doubt around for you at the moment and perhaps a lot of anxiety about what lies ahead. It can be said that worry is the allergy to uncertainty, and there is naturally a lot of uncertainty around for most students at this point in their degree. Talking things through with friends, family, your personal tutor and/or exploring your thoughts and feelings with a Counsellor/Wellbeing Practitioner may help to give you clarity and reassurance and further insight into how to manage all of this.

Best wishes,
Eleanor, Student Counsellor

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