Considering changing or leaving your course?

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1 Considering changing or leaving your course? This guide is intended to help you consider your options and to make an informed and logical decision about your future. There may be a number of reasons why you are not settled at university. Some of the most common reasons are listed below, and one or more of the following may resonate with you: Your subject might not be what you were expecting and you may find the work too difficult (or too easy) or not as interesting as you had hoped; You might not like the style of delivery or assessment; You might be feeling homesick or lonely, or feel out of your depth; You may be finding it difficult to cope financially; You may be struggling to balance your commitments, particularly if working part-time to support your studies, or if you have childcare or other carer responsibilities whilst studying; You may have decided that another subject may be more beneficial to your career or interests; You may feel that the campus is too large or too small, or just not what you were expecting or that you have not settled into your accommodation and/or have struggled to make friends; You may be feeling unable to cope emotionally with every day activities; Whatever the reason(s) for feeling unsettled or unsure about your course, it is important to tell someone how you are feeling at the earliest opportunity, and to obtain advice to help you make the right decision for you at the current time. Do not take any drastic action without having plans in place, as, for example, if you leave your course without any sense of where you are going next, this could make the situation worse. Making a hasty or rash decision may be something you live to regret, so think carefully and obtain advice and support before you take action. After weighing up the pros and cons, you may or may not decide to make a change to or to leave your course, but if you are having doubts, it is better to address these and explore your options than to pretend that all is well and risk stacking up more serious issues in the future. Be aware too that it is usually easier to change course at or near the start of the academic year than it is midway through the year, so avoid t procrastinating. Before making a final decision There are a number of things that you should bear in mind before making any final decision: Continue attending lectures, practical sessions and tutorials - and hand in all your assignments on time. If you decide to stay on the course, you want to be doing as well as possible. If you decide to change courses, your new course leader may ask you to complete the current year of your course or may ask your current course tutor for a reference, which will need to be positive. You may also be able to gain credit or a certificate for elements of your current course, but only if you pass them. Start by reflecting on what is causing you to feel unsettled or unsure. Be honest with yourself and consider asking friends and family whether they have noticed that you are unhappy with anything. 1

2 Seek advice at the earliest opportunity there is plenty of support available. You might talk to your Personal Academic Tutor, Careers Adviser, Student Success Adviser and/or Student Finance Adviser, Study Skills Adviser, Wellbeing Adviser and/or Disability Adviser. Please be reassured that that they will have supported other students in a similar situation so don t be afraid to speak to them openly, even if you may find it quite upsetting to discuss your situation. Note too that members of staff will have your best interests in mind and will support you, whatever your ultimate decision. They can be helpful in assisting you to identify more precisely why you are considering leaving your course as well as suggesting possible solutions, some of which you may not have considered. Furthermore, your Careers Adviser will also help you explore the implications on your career options if you decide to leave your course and provide advice on alternative study and work options. You can also research types of work which relate to specific degree courses via the Careers and Employability Service website - it is worth remembering that the majority of opportunities we advertise are for graduates of any discipline, so your career plans may not be adversely affected if you change course. Family and friends may also be helpful - as they often know and understand you better and can help you get to the bottom of the reasons for your dissatisfaction. If a new student seek advice as soon as possible - speak to academic staff or your Careers Adviser, because they will be able to advise you on course content and progression routes. Don t be afraid to speak up, and the earlier the better because you may be able to switch to another course. Research sources of financial help - if money is your main issue, you may be able to apply for a student loan or hardship funding. Gather information about the financial (and other) implications of any move - This is important because leaving a course can affect future funding entitlements Nearing the end of your degree or current academic year? - if you feel able to continue, it may be better to complete, even if you no longer want to take your degree subject further or are likely to get a lower degree classification than you would have liked, it will look better to have gained something from your studies than quit near the end. Possible options If considering leaving or changing your course, after exploring your options, you are likely to decide on one of the following outcomes: a) Continuing with your current course as it is Ask yourself whether you could continue with your current course. Is it one small element or module which you dislike? Could you select a different module? Don t forget that the module(s) in your first year may not feature again in subsequent years. You may also have a wider choice of modules in your second and final years, so may be able to focus on subjects in which you are most interested. It may also be possible to tailor your dissertation or final year project towards your particular interests and/or career direction. If you are struggling with your current course, speak to your Personal Academic Tutor about any support you may need. Obtain help also from a Skills Adviser. If you are close to the end of an academic year, try to successfully complete the year, so that you may be awarded a certificate, or at least be able to enter at an advanced stage on another course, either following on from the current year or later, at a time that suits you. b) Making a change to your current course at Hull 2

3 This might be a change from single Honours to Joint Honours or vice versa, e.g. Psychology to Psychology with Criminology. This may be relatively easy to do if staying within the same department, though you will need to satisfy staff that you can cope with the course and meet the entry requirements. c) Pursuing a different course at the University of Hull Before deciding on this option, check that you meet the entry requirements for the new course and that it meets your needs and satisfies any career requirements you may have. Familiarise yourself with the teaching and assessment methods and consider module options. Visit the department to talk to admissions staff and obtain as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision. d) Taking a break rather than leaving entirely. Sometimes a break is sufficient to help resolve any issues, and gives you the opportunity to resume your course at a later date. Discuss this option with your Personal Academic Tutor or staff in the Faculty or Departmental Office. This is sometimes referred to as intercalating, and you may have to complete a form to request the opportunity to intercalate for a period. Students take a break from University for a variety of reasons including health or emotional reasons, taking time to decide if the course is right for them, financial reasons, needing a break or a change of scenery, obtaining work experience, re-sitting part of the course. Whatever the reason, before leaving your course to take time out, make sure you discuss the situation with your Personal Academic Tutor to explain your reasons and clarify the length of time you plan to take away. Taking time off may be better than trying to struggle on with the course and finding that you re not able to give 100%. Make sure that you re using the support services available within the University and get additional support if you need it once you are back at home or out of the university environment. If you take a break from your studies, find out how long your current studies would remain valid if you decide you want to return. Some courses, for instance in nursing, have clear guidelines about how long a break you can take and still return to study at the point where you left off. If you want to repeat a year of your course, or defer your studies, you should first discuss your reasons with your Personal Academic Tutor and check how your financial support might be affected. If you defer or repeat a year due to circumstances beyond your control, you may be offered full support. e) Pursuing a different mode of attendance either at Hull or elsewhere Studying part-time or via distance/online learning might help balance your commitments. Discuss whether or not this option is available to you at the University of Hull. Speak to your Careers Adviser about your options. f) Pursuing a similar course at a different university This may be an option if, for example, you continue to feel extremely homesick after several months at university. Ask yourself if a different university, but the same subject, would be more suitable, or whether you wish to pursue a different subject. 3

4 If you decide very early on in the course (during the first few weeks) that you want to leave, you might be able to transfer straight to another course relatively easily, provided there are places remaining and the tutor is prepared to accept you. Avoid making a decision to leave, though, without taking advice and seriously thinking it over. Consider what's important about the place where you study, e.g. do you want to relocate or would you prefer to live at home? What kind of environment suits you? Do you prefer a city or rural campus? Large or small institution? Will you need to consider accommodation or travel arrangements? Consider carefully what the right choice is for you. Ask yourself if you have a clear and accurate idea of what you want to study. Think about what you might enjoy and reflect on what you are good at and research your options thoroughly. Consider whether you are certain that you are transferring for the right reasons, for example, if you want to be nearer a boyfriend or girlfriend, is this the right decision for you, and would you have chosen to transfer if the relationship ended? If you wish to change your subject of study, it is essential that you spend time researching your options to get as detailed a picture as possible: be clear about what you did and did not like about your current; read prospectuses carefully; visit university websites; talk to tutors and careers staff; look at recommended textbooks for the subject. Gather as much detailed information about the course as possible before making an application including modules, methods of teaching and assessments, attendance and module options. Research the campus where the course is offered as universities sometimes have multiple campuses some distance apart. You should feel happy and comfortable in the student environment so it is important to think about these issues carefully. Publications which offer an alternative view to formal prospectuses can be very useful and may be available from the Students Union. If possible, try to arrange a visit to any institution that you re interested in and speak to course staff. Try also to visit the local area and speak to course staff. Visit student accommodation and just try to get a feel for the place. Seek advice from your funding body to ensure loans for tuition fees and living expenses will be available for future study. Check also if you have to repay any outstanding monies such as student loans. Check the availability of places on the new course you wish to join. If you leave your course without first making arrangements to join another one, you might not be entitled to any more support towards your fees if you join another course later. Check what credits for study, if any, you may be entitled to by contacting your Faculty or Department office. The admissions tutor for any new course will need to be satisfied that you have the academic ability and if intending to join a course at an entry point other than the start, they will need to be satisfied that you have covered the necessary subject matter. Be prepared to be persistent, as tutors can be difficult to track down. You may need to write, phone, make an appointment or several times before you're successful in making contact. 4

5 If you wish to transfer to a course within the University of Hull, you may be able to complete an internal form. If you wish to apply to a different institution, whether for first year or advanced entry, you may have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) ( Allow plenty of time to go through the UCAS system if you're applying to a different institution. If you're applying after the closing date, contact the admissions tutor for the proposed course to see if your application will be considered before submitting your form. You will also need to consider the financial implications of changing course. Notify the Student Loans Company ( if appropriate. Speak to a Student Finance Adviser. If you are in student accommodation, you will need to notify the landlord or accommodation officer if you decide to withdraw from your current course. If you have any doubts about money, please contact Student Services for initial advice. Once you have all the information in place and you are sure that you want to leave your course, you can notify the University and officially withdraw. g) Leaving your course and studies entirely Leaving a course part way through may leave you feeling disappointed, angry or lacking in confidence. You may feel like a failure or believe you have let other people down, or you could feel that you have wasted time and missed other opportunities. These feelings are understandable, but they are not necessarily correct. There is often no point continuing to study if you're really not enjoying it. It is important to make this a positive step and it often takes greater courage to admit that you have made a mistake than to stay on a course where you are unhappy. You now have an opportunity to take a step back, look at other options and take time to get the decision right. You may find that taking time out to gain relevant experience might be more advantageous for you. This will depend on the type of career you wish to pursue, and where you are on your current course. If you have found the course too difficult and have struggled to pass the academic year, or just a few modules, or if you feel the amount and difficulty of the study is just too much, it is a good idea to pause and consider your options. Talk to your Personal Academic Tutor as you may be able to sort out extensions for coursework or be able to carry subjects over into the next year. Ask yourself whether things are really as bad as they seem. Ask for help from a member of the Study Skills team. If you have failed, or know the course is too difficult, consider looking at courses with lower entry requirements, and perhaps consider those at HND, DipHE or foundation degree level. These may provide you with a platform to build on, and gain confidence before returning to degree level study later. University is not for everyone. Talk to your Careers Adviser about other options and sources of advice in the community. Check what advice and support will be available to you after you leave. If you do decide to leave, don t forget to take the necessary steps to gain credit for what you have achieved, if applicable, in case you decide to continue your degree at a later stage. Generally, completion of each year of a degree course would normally give you 120 university credits. If therefore you completed and passed two years of a three-year degree, you would normally have 240 points for credit transfer. Completion of a full academic year, may entitle you to a university certificate or diploma. Although this is 5

6 not perhaps the qualification you set out to achieve, it may still be valued by employers if you choose to find work instead of further study. Think about what you have gained from the whole experience. You might be surprised at how much you have learned from the following: Academic experience - What have you learned or achieved from the course? Think of any modules that you passed or completed and any pieces of work that could be used as evidence when applying for other courses. Personal skills - What personal skills have you acquired from your studies? Have you learned any new skills such as IT skills, essay writing or research skills? Other personal skills might include managing your own finances and managing your time to study and work. All this information will be useful to add to your CV or application forms. Thinking about what you have gained should help develop your confidence boost and help you see where your best attributes lie. Find out what other options are available. Research employment, selfemployment and study options and seek advice from your Careers Adviser. Remember - leaving a course requires courage, organisation and planning - it's often anything but the easy option. Looking for jobs If you're leaving your course and intend to look for work, follow these practical steps: Speak to a Careers Adviser about using whatever qualifications and experience you have gained. Update your CV and make sure you have information on applications and interview techniques. Research employers who may offer support for study in the future, perhaps through allocation of study days or some financial support for part-time study. Consider alternative employment routes, including the possibilities of doing some voluntary work or participating in work placements or internships in your preferred field; Make sure you really know how to look for jobs. Although this sounds simple, you have to ensure you are aware of all the appropriate websites, recruitment newspapers (national and local) and professional journals. You may be able to find employment in your preferred career area, but at a lower level or grade than if you d graduated. This still provides a way in and can often lead to progression. Be open and flexible to opportunities - you never know where things might lead! As part of your research into the different options, make sure that you are aware of the financial implications of any decision you might make and seek advice from a Student Finance Adviser. Impact on careers of degree subject When you decided on studying for a degree, you may or may not have had a career in mind. You may have chosen a particular vocational course leading to a particular career. If your career plans change and no longer directly match with your degree subject, be aware that your career options are far greater than your degree subject with around two-thirds of all graduate jobs open to graduates regardless of their subject of study. 6

7 Even if you no longer enjoy your subject, your degree may enable you to go into a wide range of careers and not just those which may be directly related. Many jobs (and postgraduate courses) are open to graduates of any discipline. You will still need to do your best on the course, as some employers or further study providers will be looking for a good class of degree. You may also need a reference from your course tutor. Employers look for more than a degree when recruiting - they also seek evidence of employability skills, such as communication skills, team-work and problem-solving, so make the most of your time at university by participating in the range of activities and opportunities that higher education presents, and gain experience. Further support and resources Careers and Employability Service, Third floor, University House call in or telephone Study Skills Team, Brynmor Jones Library - make an appointment via the AskHU desk or telephone Student Wellbeing, Learning and Welfare Support, University House contact via the AskHU desk on the second floor or telephone Student Finance team, University House contact via the AskHU desk on the second floor or telephone Disabilities team, University House University House contact via the AskHU desk on the second floor or telephone This guide is based on and acknowledges as a source the AGCAS Guide to Changing or Leaving your course, which is no longer available. 7

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