Drop out, seriously. I couldn't tell you how much I wish I could go back and tell my 18 year old self not to stress so much over the decision. I wound up waiting until the end of my first year as I couldn't bring myself to tell anybody, which was dumb.
Going to university later than 18 might feel like a disaster scenario now whilst other people you know are off starting their courses, but you've got time on your side believe me, so take some of it. Finding work or travelling during your year out would no doubt help.
A gap year can be invaluable for some people. It can be difficult to develop real interests, or aspirations, with the constant pressures of school or college and lack of time to contend with. The time out could help you more than you'd expect.
I dropped out of uni and my dad disowned me. But it was the best decision of my life. I took a few months off to figure out what I wanted to do, and then reapplied for a different course, at a different uni. I'm so much happier now than I was before and I feel so much more prepared.
Your life is YOUR life. You have to do what you think is right and what's best for you. No one else can make those decisions, no matter how hard it is. I feel like your parents will understand your decision, as long as you give them a plan for the future. It's not the end of the world, you can still have full funding for another degree if you want.
I did this with Nursing halfway through the year. I loved the course but because of my (at the time) undiagnosed Personality Disorder, I was too erratic with my moods to cope with the practical side of the course.
I dropped out, took about 2 years out working, then enrolled onto a Business and Management degree with my local college in association with the University I was accredited from. I got a 2:1 in the end instead of failing.
So, my advice, do it. Take the year, build up some cash, have a good think and work out what the best course of action for YOU is.
The OP has only been reading for 3 and a half weeks, not 3 and a half years!
You can apply to other courses and universities through ucas as a independent candidate, while still on your current course, if you're worried about dropping out straight away. I did that last year. Then when you have a place on another course you can drop out and take a semi gap year. Try and get a job or work experience during that time to make it worthwhile if you can.
Starting at Uni is daunting and it may or may not be the course, but the whole change from home & school you're struggling with. Talk it over with a counsellor at Uni and clearly articulate what course you want to do, why you want to do & why you're passionate about it. Try to fathom what it is that is triggering your anxiety...wrong course...wrong uni...wrong time to leave home?
Don't worry about the age thing, I did a year at college so went at 19yrs old and the year was negligible. I did my first two years then took a break before going back at age 23 to finish my final two years (honours degrees being 4 yrs total in Scotland) and that was a wee bit different age-wise but you still find people to click with. So don't let that make you feel different....lots of people have gap years, or decide their first year was not right for them, you often can still get funding to complete your course.
I'm looking at the grand old age of 43 to be starting a PG course, and everyone else will be approx half my age but I'll swallow the discomfort as I'm passionate about my course.
Your parents need some commitment from you that you will go back, and applying now for next year will show that. Have a plan and realistic goals for your year out (not just "I'll get a job" - job market not great, so show what job area you're looking at & applying to) will appease the parents and show you're not just taking the easiest route...parents worry about you, it's their job and they want the best for you and them. Don't make them have sleepless nights worrying about you and your future....they will support you, but be decisive and forward planning with achievable goals and they can rest easier. Good luck! Gx
You have broad shoulders, you can deal with people being pissed at you. Better folk are short term pissed off than years of YOU being miserable. This is not you running away necessarily, often harder to show backbone and do what you feel is right for you, than do what people think you should be doing. The path of least resistance is not always the one to follow. If you really hate it now (and you have done a few weeks) then you're likely to change by this time next year when you're into the 2nd year.
Anxiety is a difficult beastie to tame and often gives you a false reading - it rears up even when you're doing the "right" thing. Talking though problems/anxieties/concerns with someone qualified is always helpful, and there's nothing these folk at uni haven't seen or heard. They can be useful to you and put you in a strong mind frame to make the decisions and plans best for you. Don't give up...if you decide to advise the uni you want to defer for the year, it will at least give you breathing space and stop the pressure you feel right now. Time then to look after you and get you in a better headspace...and job experience and travel no bad thing...just don't waste the year. Do something for you...and remember you're young enough to make mistakes and life doesn't end! Your next adventure awaits you....uni still there next year! Go meet people, have fun and work out your next step. Your parents want you happy more than anything. Gx