Article: Higher Education - Leaving Your Course Early
This article looks at what to do if you decide to leave your higher education course early. You might be thinking of transferring to a different course, moving to a different university/college or getting a job.
Every year, for a variety of reasons, some students decide they don't want to (or can't) carry on with their present course of study. There are many reasons why people want to leave their course.
For example, they might:
- be ill
- no longer like their course or the place they're studying
- have changed their career plans
- feel homesick or lonely
- have difficulties in their personal relationships
- have to care for a member of their family
- be worried about money
- find themselves unable to cope with the coursework or exams.
The reasons are endless and anyone can find themselves in one of these situations. Many students feel like this, especially in their first term.
You might feel like a failure and want to escape from this difficult situation as soon as possible, but whatever you do, don't panic and make a rushed decision that you might later regret. Continue to attend lectures and complete any work assignments while you make your decisions.
Try to think positively and remember, you are not alone. However worrying it is, there are plenty of people who can help. Talking to someone will help you to think through your problems and make sensible plans for the future.
Having done this, you might decide to continue on your current course. If not, there are different options open to you.
Think about the alternatives
First of all, you need to think about whether you want to carry on with studying. Do you want to stay in full-time education and perhaps transfer to another course that will suit you better? If you do, as well as finding and choosing an alternative course, you will need to sort out the financial side of things.
Do you feel you need a break - a year off, perhaps - before resuming your studies? Do you want to get a job, or even set up your own business? Let's look at these various alternatives and the steps you need to take, although you might find that not all of them apply to you.
Getting a job
There is more detailed information on finding a job or becoming self-employed in other articles. However, here is some general guidance.
Don't react against all those years of study by rushing into a job you don't really want to do unless it is purely a short-term means of getting some money. A year off to sort yourself out, or get valuable work experience, is usually acceptable to an employer. However, if you delay too long you are likely to be competing with other members of your year group who will have graduated with better qualifications than you.
Make sure you can present 'leaving your course early' in a positive light to a future employer. They want to see that you will have motivation and an interest in the work you are applying to do.
Did you have a career in mind when you originally chose your course? Do you still want to do it? There are careers that you can enter (at a lower level) with A levels and still study for a professional qualification part-time while working. Or, you might decide to re-apply through UCAS the following year.
Discuss your situation with your university or college careers advisers and/or your local careers company or advice and guidance centre. They can:
- give you information on jobs and careers
- show you how to use computer guidance programs
- give advice on how to fill in application forms
- tell you about training schemes
- help you to find job vacancies.
Private employment agencies might also be able to help you to find suitable work.
Look for job vacancies in the newspapers and in specialist magazines; you can find these in your local library. You can also write to firms 'on spec' asking whether they have any suitable jobs; make sure you enclose a carefully thought-out CV and a covering letter that is targeted at the organisation you are writing to.
Register as available for work at your local Jobcentre Plus so that you can claim benefits if you need to.
When you earn over a certain amount, you will have to start repaying any student loan you have received.
If you are considering starting your own business and becoming self-employed, you can get advice from lots of places. A good starting point is the government website GOV.UK - see 'Setting up' in 'Businesses and Self-Employed'.
Other sources of advice and guidance include:
- Jobcentre Plus
- HM Revenue and Customs
- careers service
- Enterprise Agency
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
Leaving Your Course
Publisher: Graduate Prospects
Tel: 0161 277 5200
Businesses and Self-Employed
UK government services and information