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I have dropped out and I'm utterly lost - what next?? Will they ever take me back?

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    Hi all,

    I dropped out in February from my hard-gained place at a very good quality Humanities, joint-honours, degree programme at Edinburgh University, after one full year, an attempt at second year, interruption of study halfway through

    All throughout teenage years I suffered from depression, which now I think has actually been PTSD from something that happened when I was 11. Whatever it really is, it was ignored, pushed under the carpet, and so I never got any support (I didn't think it was okay to ask for help and other people just thought I was weird, or something). I hated school with a passion, went there day in, day out just to get qualifications, suck up as much of the little of it that was useful, and go to a good university where I imagined all my problems would suddenly disappear and I would finally be a happy, normal person. But it's already been said that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. And I was just obsessed and possessed with going to university, to an intensely unhealthy extent of hating everything and everyone around me, just dreaming of getting away!

    I got to Edinburgh (second choice, my ideal was St Andrews from where I was rejected), but it never felt like home, more like an unattainable piece of cloud I could never reach and the isolation I felt and the loss about what to do with myself (pressures to socialise, to engage in extra-curricular activities I wasn't interested in as all I ever wanted was to just be left alone to study, the inability to understand anything that was said at the lectures (literary theory - what???), a hopeless crush on that guy in my modern language class that I would then subsequently have some ambiguous on- and off-affair throughout the rest of my time there, and the constant pressures I put myself to succeed, to be "normal", to keep up with everything, to have at least some vague plan for the nearest future, to please my friends enough to make them keep being my friends). I'm intensely ambitious, I keep comparing myself with others, I keep pulling myself down with self-criticisms of my shortcomings etc. All I ever wanted to do was to study my beloved subjects which became more and more my enemies - but undergrad isn't about becoming an expert in your subject (at least not here where you have divide your time for extra elective subjects). I became even more depressed, asked for prescription pills to excuse my uselessness to the university who generously gave me a place (I was admitted via an Outreach scheme), but pressed and finished first year. I got A, B, C in my three subjects (with the C in English Literature - my "major", or love of my life).

    Started second year, deteriorated even more health-wise, then took an interruption of study to heal. Throughout the next year and a half, I did a lot - had several jobs, travelled, improved my French greatly, had a crappy relationship that could've gone better if I had a grip on myself. But I did nothing to improve my health, I just kept lying to myself and anticipating when I could go back to university and be "normal" - just like in school, and again that failed, again. I started second year again - apparently with perspective but actually none at all - and finally, completely crushed and lost and hopeless, dropped out in February of this year.

    Since then, I've tried to pull myself together. I gave it another go with my boyfriend, it's going well and now we've been together again for five months.

    But he has graduated with a BSc (Honours) 2.1 this morning. We both started at the same time. It didn't hit so hard before as it did today. They say dropping out isn't the end of the world - and I believe it's not - and I have avoided successfully up until today to feel like a failure but I've screwed myself over. I've been trying to find a job since March - I've plenty of experience, I can appear confident and outgoing when necessary, I've qualifications, I've been following general CV advice etc when applying to jobs, but for the past four months it's been rejection after rejection, as if nobody wants me around. It's super demoralising.

    I have a better idea of what I have to do - I have to put in a lot of work into my health, my body and my mental health, take therapy sessions, go away for a while etc. And I want to reapply to universities in two or three years.

    But what to do now? I don't know what to do with myself. I've done a lot of research about returning to study in the future. But now? I've signed up for a TEFL course over the summer and was hoping to leave to teach English in some European country, but now with the referendum results I need to stay here and save up for citizenship for now (I'm an EU citizen, so who knows what would happen if I wanted to reenter the country). So I'm stuck in Scotland, in Edinburgh, where noone wants to give me a job and which I desperately need.

    What would other drop-outs do in my circumstances?

    [Ahhh, I'm sorry for such a long thread! I'm quite complicated, my situation. Thank you for reading and helping me!]

    I'm glad that you've realised that you need to put some time and effort into getting better and then reapplying to uni. Having long term goals always helps. In the short term I'd say carry on looking for jobs. Something will come up. If you have the experience then I don't see why you should struggle so maybe have someone help you with your CV and interview prep. Maybe your boyfriend? Can the uni help? What is keeping you in Scotland? Is it your relationship? For citizenship you can be anywhere in the UK so why Edinburgh?

    (Original post by cabaret-belle)
    Hi, I was going to private message you, but I don't think you've allowed that option on your profile. I can't be quite as open with you here on the public forum but I'll try to get the point across regardless.

    I made a major mess of my degree and like you I ended up spiraling into depression. I went through medication and therapy and felt like I was stood on the sidelines as I watched my peers graduate to become doctors, nurses, teachers, solicitors, architects and engineers...whilst I was unemployed, in therapy and had to no idea what I was doing with my life. It destroys your confidence, I know. I' saw them flourish whilst I was practically catatonic and on disability allowance and unemployed. I spent years struggling mentally, financially and emotionally and at my worst I had planned to end my life.

    Now I'm older and wiser. I realized no one could change my life for me and no one would give me anything - I had to fight for it. It's hard to fight when you just want to curl into a ball and cry in a dark corner. But once you decide to fight back rather than simply take more punches then you're on your way to solving your problems. Life is relentless if you let it get the better of you and the worst thing to do is resign yourself to defeat.

    I pulled myself together somehow (someone told me they believe in me, that was a turning point) and started from rock bottom. I applied to every job imaginable and did a lot of voluntary work in my local community. Eventually I got a job - it wasn't the best paid and it wasn't the most glamorous but just having a uniform and being a part of a team made me feel useful again and gradually I got my confidence and self-esteem back.

    To cut a long story short - I went back to college, reapplied to uni and now I'm on a professional degree course at an excellent university with brilliant career prospects in an industry that I love.

    Life can change. You have to really want it to and it won't be easy - those few words cannot convey have difficult it can be but know that you can get through it. If I can do it then you can.

    In terms of advice - help other people. That's what gave me my sense of purpose again. It's strange how you can be at rock bottom but then when you volunteer in say, a pediatric ward at a hospital, you see something and realize you have the power to change someone's life. Then you realize you have the power to change your own and almost a duty to - because you have so much potential and so much to live for whilst some people have days maybe weeks left and don't have this opportunity. It gave me perspective and motivation. Cultivate your hobbies too - everyday.

    In terms of jobs - again, I'd say apply to things where you can help others in some way. It's the most rewarding feeling I've ever known. Whether that's healthcare, teaching etc.

    Have a look into voluntary teaching assistant roles and look into paths towards becoming a teacher (e.g PGCE etc) and look into degrees again (and funding!). In some cases you don't need to do a 3 year degree and then a PGCE - you can do a 3 year teaching degree e.g. 'Primary Education' and graduate with qualified teacher status. If it appeals to you then get the voluntary work, apply for paid roles and apply through UCAS for degrees.

    Also look into Healthcare Assistant hospital roles or other assistant roles e.g. O.T assistant etc and hospital volunteer roles to boost your chances of interview (do it . org is a good place to start) and if healthcare appeals then the next step is to look through NHS jobs and look at the roles which require degrees, there are so many great careers, too many to list but some examples are ODP, Radiography, Nursing, Paramedic etc, do a placement and then apply through UCAS.

    You might feel a but 'left behind' seeing your boyfriend get his 2.1. But I'm nearly 30 and doing a nursing degree and went through a VERY similar thing as you. So please don't give up or lose heart. You're still young and have so many opportunities around you - I know it might not feel like it, but keep looking and trying.

    The best advice I can give you is start now because time moves quickly. Make a plan - even if like me you just scribble it on an envelope! Just start with a vague plan - mine was ''Voluntary job, apply to HCA job, work as HCA, get nurse placement, apply to nursing through UCAS, pass A-level course, study nursing, become nurse!". It took me 2 years to get that second to last point. So start now.

    Believe me it is so worth it once you figure it out and you will be so proud of yourself. You write very well and you're clearly intelligent and thoughtful - don't let your talents go to waste, jot down a plan today, set yourself a target for this time next year and work you socks off.

    Best of luck x
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