University dissatisfaction Watch

Gaffspan
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#1
Report Thread starter 11 years ago
#1
Hi everyone,

Rather long post I’m afraid. Skip to the last paragraph if you can’t be arsed to read it all…

Let me give you the background. This time last summer, I was an eager soon-to-be engineering student, awaiting my a-level results. They turned out to be rather good, I got my place at one of the best unis in the country, and I was thrilled. The first semester went by relatively smoothly; the problems began in the second semester.

I admit I did find it hard socially. I moved school for sixth form, and made loads of friends in the first week- I’m still in touch with them now. Naively, I thought I could do the same at uni. However, I didn’t reckon on alcohol. I don’t drink, and in my experience that made it far harder to socialise since clubbing and getting wasted were very much the things to do. Also, the course was intense, leaving me with very little spare time. I guess the effects of this gradually mounted.

Accommodation was another issue. Immediately after Christmas, everyone was grouping up and going house hunting. I didn’t have a solid group of friends, so endeavoured to find people in a similar situation to myself. This took up all of my spare time from January to May, when I finally gave up. Maybe it was just bad luck, but everyone I met was a total prat.

Now I know none of this is the university’s fault, it’s just a series of very unfortunate circumstances. However, I didn’t keep it quiet. I told the student support staff, I told my personal tutor. I said how I was finding it hard, how it was beginning to affect my studies. Later, I said I was beginning to get really anxious about falling behind with my work. After that, I got a letter from the doctor saying that I was ‘mentally incapacitated’ (along with a dose of prozac). I told them how I would cry every night. I said I couldn’t go on.

Yet, they didn’t really do anything… they just offered words of encouragement; “it’s Easter soon, you can have a nice break”… “the first year doesn’t count, so as long as you pass…”. Somehow, I did pass. Not by much, but I was amazed that there were indeed modules I didn’t fail, since the second semester was a total write-off.

However, this came at a price. Pushing myself to breaking point has left me scarred; I feel that I cannot return to university or engineering. I don’t have a clue what to do, it feels as if my whole life has fallen apart. Thousands of pounds and a whole year wasted. And, a couple of months on, I am still a total wreck. In fact, recalling the first year is like recalling a dream; I can’t quite believe it actually happened.

I have since learned that the option exists to suspend studies; this would have been ideal for me. I feel that the failure to mention this when I was clearly unable to work effectively IS the fault of the university. Hence, I feel that some form of compensation would be fair. Is this at all heard of?

Thanks, and well done if you read it all
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brown
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#2
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#2
First of all, I'd like to say 'Welcome to TSR!'. I hope you enjoy it here and if you ever have any problems/questions, don't hesitate to PM me .

(Original post by Gaffspan)
Let me give you the background. This time last summer, I was an eager soon-to-be engineering student, awaiting my a-level results. They turned out to be rather good, I got my place at one of the best unis in the country, and I was thrilled. The first semester went by relatively smoothly; the problems began in the second semester.
I can tell you are a hard-working student and want to do well. That is a good thing! Passing your A-Levels was a great achievement and you should remember this whenever you are thinking of leaving university. You obviously have the capability to succeed and should not let anything stop you from doing so .

(Original post by Gaffspan)
I admit I did find it hard socially. I moved school for sixth form, and made loads of friends in the first week- I’m still in touch with them now. Naively, I thought I could do the same at uni. However, I didn’t reckon on alcohol. I don’t drink, and in my experience that made it far harder to socialise since clubbing and getting wasted were very much the things to do. Also, the course was intense, leaving me with very little spare time. I guess the effects of this gradually mounted.
Don't change the person you are. It is your choice not to drink alcohol and no one else should make you feel under any pressure to do anything you don't want to.

(Original post by Gaffspan)
Accommodation was another issue. Immediately after Christmas, everyone was grouping up and going house hunting. I didn’t have a solid group of friends, so endeavoured to find people in a similar situation to myself. This took up all of my spare time from January to May, when I finally gave up. Maybe it was just bad luck, but everyone I met was a total prat.
Did you join any societies at university? Through these you can meet other people who have the same interests as you and it is a great way to make friends.

(Original post by Gaffspan)
Now I know none of this is the university’s fault, it’s just a series of very unfortunate circumstances. However, I didn’t keep it quiet. I told the student support staff, I told my personal tutor. I said how I was finding it hard, how it was beginning to affect my studies. Later, I said I was beginning to get really anxious about falling behind with my work. After that, I got a letter from the doctor saying that I was ‘mentally incapacitated’ (along with a dose of prozac). I told them how I would cry every night. I said I couldn’t go on.
You did the right thing. You told your personal tutor, who is your first port of call. I think at this stage you should have been informed about suspending your studies, as you had a medical reason for wanting to do so and you obviously were finding everything about university difficult.

(Original post by Gaffspan)
Yet, they didn’t really do anything… they just offered words of encouragement; “it’s Easter soon, you can have a nice break”… “the first year doesn’t count, so as long as you pass…”. Somehow, I did pass. Not by much, but I was amazed that there were indeed modules I didn’t fail, since the second semester was a total write-off.
Well done for passing! You obviously did better than you thought you had done.

(Original post by Gaffspan)
However, this came at a price. Pushing myself to breaking point has left me scarred; I feel that I cannot return to university or engineering. I don’t have a clue what to do, it feels as if my whole life has fallen apart. Thousands of pounds and a whole year wasted. And, a couple of months on, I am still a total wreck. In fact, recalling the first year is like recalling a dream; I can’t quite believe it actually happened.
If you really do not want to continue with the course, then I suggest that you arrange a meeting with your personal tutor and go with one of your parents or someone you know to discuss the situation (preferably before term starts). If you suspend your studies for a while, your personal well-being may improve and you may be able to return to university. There is also the option of applying to another university (maybe one closer to home so you wouldn't have to move away). I know this may come as a surprise, but not everybody is suited to university, not everyone likes the university way of living. You may be better off getting an engineering apprenticeship and working your way up from there. That way you wouldn't need to go to university.

(Original post by Gaffspan)
I have since learned that the option exists to suspend studies; this would have been ideal for me. I feel that the failure to mention this when I was clearly unable to work effectively IS the fault of the university. Hence, I feel that some form of compensation would be fair. Is this at all heard of?
I've never heard of such compensation but I do think you should have been told earlier about the options open to you. It was obvious you weren't coping and finding everything unbearable, and you had a medical note to prove it.

I hope everything works out for you .

brown x
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CJ
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Report 11 years ago
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Just a few points I want to make (sorry if they sound a little too harsh, but it's early, and i'm in a no-nonsense mood).

- Firstly, you should get your priorities in check. I would start thinking seriously about talking to someone about next year. Forget any compensation (for now) and get your finances/education sorted for next year before it's too late and you find yourself in a deep hole. So...

Do you want to stay there or not?
Do you want to take a year out or not? (defer the 2nd year)

If you want to stay on for the 2nd year, will your heart be in it? or not... could you bear being 2nd rate? (I know I couldn't).

That's the questions that YOU need to address ASAP, and then start thinking about the other issues.

Next --- IMO, yes, not drinking does make it harder (I drink, but don't like clubbing) but I have met plenty of people who don't drink... most haven't had too many issues socialising and sometimes it's just the people around you that dictate how well you get on. It may have affected you and your social life, but could you not choose halls for a 2nd year? Learn from your mistakes and try and mix with a fresh bunch of new people. If you explain your situation, your Uni may let you do so.

Also, I wouldn't underestimate how many people are in a similar situation to yourself. I've been giving advice for a long time now in the "Having a tough time at uni" thread and PLENTY of people have issues.
In your situation, you have plus sides. You seem to have a greater outlook and have learnt and reflected on what has happened, whilst no immediate damage has taken place (mentally and academically).
For that reason, I think even trying to gain any compensation is ludicrous (sp?). I could give examples of people in my faculty group, but I won't bore you with those.
Also, I don't know what exactly you were expecting from the Uni. Of course they will try and encourage you to do well and help you pass your course (which you did regardless - which is a great acheivement). Unless you TELL them you can't continue, they won't just take you off their records/defer you. That would be your decision, and you would have had to have TOLD them what the options were if you wanted to drop out.

I think at some point everyone has social issues.... some more severe than others, and you need to address them.
I didn't get on with everyone in my first year, and was expecting to get on better with the people I lived with... but it didn't work out that way. I thereby had to adapt a little and make the most of societies and what not, and ended up enjoying myself.

You need to make some importnant decisions now...and don't be afraid to make them (know you're the only one who can make the choice). Do what you feel is best for you and have no regrets.

All the best (and again, sorry if that sounded rude at all... I didn't mean it to, I think that's just the way it comes across ) - PM me if you wanna chat, or i'll stick around here - sorry about the long post also.
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hermaphrodite
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if you cant stand the idea of carrying on with your course at this particular uni - transfer to another uni. they'll let you enter into year 2 - and it wont be too late. but again you do have the issue of finding the right people to live with . .but that shouldnt really be hard to find if you look properly
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Paeony
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Have you spoken to your parents about this at all? Do they know how you feel, and do they have any suggestions? You always have the option of taking a year out, and either going back to your old uni or starting again somewhere new (I believe that the funding system allows for a 'false start' so you should be ok for funding for a new three year degree). It sounds like you perhaps need to reassess what you expect from university and perhaps reconsider your course and location.

Also, if you do intend to stay at that university, it's probably not a good idea to try and get any form of compensation for what is, sadly, a fairly common experience at university. Universities tend to 'close ranks' when a complaint is made, and it could make the rest of your time there fairly uncomfortable. You do have to accept that a university does only have very limited responsibilites towards you - at 18, you are an adult and it's (often wrongly) expected that you're just going to be able to 'cope' and get on with it. It's a real failure in the university system but I doubt that it's going to be addressed soon. As brown said, not everyone is suited to the university way of life and it could be that you need a little more time to prepare. Your experience, although horrible, will help you to make any future decisions with your eyes wide open. I'd imagine that your experience of uni didn't really live up to the expectations that you had - again, this is often the case but is something that's not really talked about. Have a long hard think over the summer, maybe take a year out and don't forget to look at other options. University is not the only way into a career!
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Anannya
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So your first semester turned out pretty well. That could be a sign that you haven't chosen the wrong course. You personal experiences have just affected your second semester result. Its alright if you don't drink and you don't belong to that particular genre of people. I know engineering can be demanding as I am hopefully going to start one this year so with the little time you have why do you not use it to join societies. Societies are a great way to meet people and if you join a couple of them I am sure you could find that you will meet like minded people. Try the international students group as a lot of them are not very interested or accustomed to the drinking craze . You can go down to pubs and bars and simply sit with some juice or fizzy drinks or just plain water. Its a good way to socialise. I hardly drink but I have met some wonderful people like that. Some might judge you for that, just make a mental note to not keep in touch with any such people

I know you might feel left out because its been a year and even in societies you are going to have to make double the effort to know people. Dropping out will only not benefit you now. You have passed the first year and since it does not count you should not let its low marks drive you to the edge. Sure its being difficult for you to make friends because I have heard that sometimes university life can faze even the most confident. Just adapt your life like that.

You need to take a reality check here: the university can so much just point you to a direction and the rest is upto you. To be quite fair, you can't really expect it to act like a nanny who will clean up if you have made a mess. Being at university is also about being independent. I know that your personal life can take its toll over your studies but only you can decide whats important. Do you think you will feel better if you have quit university and took up some job?What is the guarantee that you will get along with your co-workers? You have to work twice as hard to make friends at uni than at school IMO because a university is a huge place and its quite impossible to meet every single student of your year and then from that pick out people you can be friends with whereas in school you have a limited number of people you study with and thus I guess much easier to interact with a s well. Don't let bad experiences put you down. Try to be more confident and if it helps see a counsellor or talk to someone older who can advise you more on it. Dropping out is not going to be a solution to this problem. Dealing with it heads-on will .

:tee:
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ba_mhaith_liom
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Hey, it seems that you've had quite a rough year, so well done for getting through that. However, I have to say that your experience is not an uncommon one. I am not saying this to diminish your experience in any way, but it does affect quite a number of people. The transition to university can be quite tricky, especially if you are moving away from home and do not have a group of friends with whom to work your way through it. I didn't even move away from home to go to uni, and I found the transition difficult as did several of my friends.

My first year at uni was a complete write-off. I stopped attending lectures and tutorials from the second month of the first semester. I was uninterested by the material, bored by the teaching methods and, like yourself, I didn't drink much and so I couldn't become involved in nights out. After Christmas I planned to drop out, and repeat the year but I was talked into continuing despite missing an exam worth 12%, not attending most tutorials which counted towards my grade, and only completing 5 out of 7 assignments for one module. I still didn't go back, semi-regularly, until Easter. Spent the Easter vacation cramming, and managed to pull through the year. Somehow.

At no point did anyone from the university approach me and ask me why I wasn't in class. No-one ever contacted me; neither my tutors or administration staff. I was simply a student number, no-one really cared. I wasn't upset or particularly bothered by this, it's simply a failing of the system. A fairly massive failing, but not such that they were culpable for any distress I experienced during the year.

I looked into my options myself because it was my responsibility. I'm not sure how it works in England, perhaps your personal tutors bear more responsibility for your welfare, but I would assume that you could have looked into your options by yourself.

If it really is very difficult for you still, then you may want to consider speaking to a counsellor on a regular basis. Many people find it very cathartic and it may be of benefit for you to be able to talk freely about your experiencs and your feelings about them.

However, I do not think your university owes you compensation. Your personal tutors wanted to get you through the year, that's their job and they did it. You managed to pass despite everything working against you. That's great. If you go back next year, I think it's important that you get involved in a few societies. That's how I got through uni. Join one or two, and you'll no doubt find a fabulous set of people with interests in line with your own. Go to your class parties, even if you don't drink. Show up for an hour or two before everyone's completely soused, and chat then head off home.

If you are really unable to go back to uni come the end of September, perhaps you should look into deferring your second year. Take a year out, get a job, go travelling, something. Clear your head.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck. It's an awful anti-climax when the first year of uni doesn't meet your expectations, but that doesn't mean it can't get better.
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kellywood_5
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Not drinking is only a problem if you let it be. I don't drink either and I made loads of great friends in my first year at uni. You can still go to the pub with them and just have soft drinks. Often there will be something else going on anyway, such as a quiz, a game machine like the ItBox or a board game, and most people go to the pub for a few drinks and a chat. You don't have to go clubbing if you don't like it because that's where most people end up getting hammered. If you can't find anyone on your course or where you live that you get on with, which is unlikely, you can join clubs and societies. You can meet people that share your interests so you'll have something to talk about and they often arrange socials, where again you don't have to drink if you don't want to. You just have to make the effort to talk to people and arrange to do things with them.

Well done for passing the year despite all your problems That, combined with your good A-level results and place at a top uni, shows you're academically capable. You haven't said anywhere that you disliked your course. It seems that your only problems were on the social side, so changing course won't help.

I've never heard of anyone suing a uni over something like this though and really I don't see how you can. You're (presumably) 19 or at least 18 now, an adult, so a uni doesn't have the same responsibilty to care for your welfare that a school does. You said you were offered words of encouragement by your personal tutor and support staff, which is really all they can do. It's up to you to look into the options available to you and sort yourself out. It's all part of the independent lifestyle.

It sounds to me like if you just find somewhere to live for next year and make more of an effort on the social side by, for example, joining clubs and societies, you'll have a much better year. Your problems relate to uni in general rather than your specific uni, so transferring wouldn't help because you'd probably have the same problems there. Which means all you really need to decide is whether or not you want to carry on with uni into your second year and whether or not to defer it if that's an option. If you don't, you need to decide what you're going to do instead, like getting a job.
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bluenoxid
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If you do go back I suggest you join a few interesting societies. I also had trouble socialising and joined the find a flatmate scheme that my accomodation office runs. I am shocked at the scant regard that you were shown. I am unsure if you can/should get legal redress, but I would suggest (note that I am not a lawyer or have any experience) that you put in formal complaints and possibly change personal tutor.
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hermaphrodite
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there's no point in complaining or asking for compensation . . .cos if you do, and you stay at the uni, and have further queries to make, u'll have a guilty conscience. or everytime you brush past the head of department or whoever it may be, u'll always think at the back of your mind "is the lecturer associating me with the person who complained". . . well i know i would.
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Ollie87
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mate i kind of know how you feel. i fell in love with my best friend and it ****ED up my second year BAD style, the whole thing. worst year of my life, was going to transfer. just suck it up and keep going.
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Gaffspan
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Hello again, sorry for not getting back to this thread earlier but I've been away for a while. Thanks for all the replies and the warm welcome!

First I'd like to say that I joined 6 sports clubs/societies, and went to them as often as I could. Unfortunately, this was not as frequently as I'd hoped as the course was so demanding. Also, the societies seemed to be just another excuse for a booze-up. I don't mind a relaxed night in a pub, but when everyone around you is drinking to get drunk, you do feel left out.

What annoys me is the fact that (at the risk of sounding big-headed) I didn't put a foot wrong. I worked hard to get straight As at GCSE and a-level. I chose a subject which I was passionate about and talented in. Even when I started to have problems, I did all the right things. Yet, I have ended up in this state, unfit for any study or work. My parents are very aware of all this and believe that I should be compensated.

I have looked at other routes into a career, but university really is the only one that gets me where I want to go. And I find it hard to believe that I'm not university material.

Again, sorry to leave it so long. Thanks for reading
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AverageGuyOnTheStreet
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:hugs:

Parts of your story sound similar to mine. From about half way through the first term I knew I was failing. Though in my case it was because I knew I didn't enjoy the course and wasn't motivated to go to any lectures.

The drinking issue shouldn't be a problem. I don't drink (health reasons so I can't really deviate) and haven't had too many issues with socialising. I joined a lot of societies and I also became really involved in student politics.

I realised what the problem was soon but didn't have the guts to tell anyone until I broke down in tears during one of my tutorials. At that point I did what I thought was the right thing and applied for a transfer. But for the week following I was either shutting myself away in my room not wanting to talk to anyone or out drinking to cover up my problems. This was when I knew I was going to fail. I no longer cared about anything. The transfer was the last thing on my mind. I ended up in hospital and it took me until Christmas to recover fully.

I returned to uni in January and took my exams. I failed both exams I had to take, probably because I had missed so much both through lack of motivation and illness. Then I went down with the flu and missed another 3 weeks. It was at this time that my transfer was rejected because there was no way I would be able to pass the year (according to my personal tutor and also the department I tried to transfer to, though I too knew I was going to fail). I missed another couple of weeks through another illness. Then I decided to drop out and reapply for the course I wanted to study.

I realised that to succeed at uni, you need motivation. If you don't feel motivated to go to lectures and do any reading you need to do then chances are you will fail. People telling me that first year didn't count and all I needed to do was pass really got to me as I felt that I couldn't meet the most trivial of requirements.

Then, regarding accommodation, everyone I knew got into their groups whilst I was in bed with the flu. Nobody wanted to be my housemate. The few times I was able to get out of bed and ask people if they wanted to live with me, they all said no because they already had their groups. So I went onto the accommodation website and ended up with a group of people I had never met.

I hope you find the second year much better.
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