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    Hello!

    I apologise if this in the wrong forum so please let me know if this is the wrong place to post.

    At present, I am in my first year at UCL studying biochemistry. I absolutely despise this course and really think that its not the one for me. I am getting decent grades and working hard but it feels absolutely pointless as I have lost my interest in the subject pretty much completely. I've found it hard to make friends here as I've been struggling a lot with my mental health and have felt quite isolated being from a different background to most people I have encountered which has given me this constant feeling of I'm being spoken down to. It drives me nuts. In addition to this, I have had several extenuating factors which have also made me rather unhappy. Overall, I'm not enjoying my time here even though I was so excited about coming here.

    Throughout the year I've considered the possibility of dropping out and doing different A-levels so I can pursue a different course. I've always had a keen interest in human geography so am thinking of either trying to change courses within UCL for next year or I will quit and take new A levels if I can. At my last attempt I achieved A*AB in biology, geography and chemistry but am wondering if I should take some time out to study A Levels in: maths, economics and either business or government and politics to strengthen a future application. While changing courses within UCL would be easier, I do kind of loathe this place a lot. There's a lot of things wrong with UCL and I can wholeheartedly tell you the student support is abysmal so I am thinking of studying somewhere else if I can.

    So I am looking for some advice on whether it is feasible for me to maybe quit uni and then take new A levels, and if so, how could I go about doing this?

    And for anyone who reads this, please choose your course and university CAREFULLY. I really did rush into this all guns blazing without much of an idea of what university actually entails and whether this course was for me. It is worth the time to do your research.
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    Just reapply on UCAS.. I don't think you need to waste a couple years of your life doing A levels again.
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    I have an offer for Natural Sciences at UCL (I chose cell/molecular biology and organic chemistry as my streams, so will be going to similar classes as biochemistry students). However, I'm also considering taking a gap year to apply to slightly different course whilst having a job and going travelling etc.

    I have a few questions I want to ask (if you won't mind answering ):
    - What is it that you don't like about the course?
    - Is it only you who isn't enjoying it?
    - The student body is undoubtedly diverse, so do people tend to stay in their cultural groups?
    - What is it about UCL that makes you not want to go there anymore?
    - How big is the jump from A level to university?
    - Can you name a couple of other things you don't like about UCL?
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    OP it sounds like you're in a pretty stressful situation. What is making you feel as though people are speaking down to you? What specifically about UCL is letting you down?

    In terms of support, you're absolutely right that it's important to do as much research as you can, but you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. Most universities will tell you anything to get you to apply, and sadly the reality is only revealed when you arrive as a student and need to rely on the services that they have so readily touted. The point being that you can't really find some of this stuff out unless you find anecdotal evidence from current/former students, which in any case may be unreliable/highly particularised, unrepresentative or outdated.

    It's worth noting that with many experiences as a student, there's also often a case of "grass is greener" – I for one used to complain a lot about the support I received (or didn't) at Warwick, but it was a) actually far better than I had at Oxford and b) in hindsight, far better than I get at my current institution. It may well be the case that you aren't any more satisfied elsewhere. Just something to think about. Is it the case that there are other personal factors that are so important that they need to be addressed before you can embark on university studies? In which case, they are a priority and you would do better to tackle them first – with professional help from the NHS and other services, rather than skeletal and variable university services – before choosing a uni.

    As the poster above has mentioned, there may be better ways to effect change without having to drop out. Have you spoken to a personal tutor or anyone else from the administration about your situation? This would be the first port of call, whether you want to switch within UCL or transfer to another institution. It may be possible to transfer courses without needing to do so via UCAS (or at least agree something before taking it through UCAS as a formality, for admissions data purposes). Often a tutor is able to speak to tutors at other institutions and write in support of you. In this respect, you have very strong grades at A Level and a good performance this working in your favour, as it won't look as though the uni is trying to offload an underachieving or problematic student. Perhaps have a look into which university courses you like the look of, or even ask tutors you're comfortable talking to for recommendations.

    If you want to shore up your knowledge prior to changing courses, then doing an A Level isn't a bad idea, but perhaps you can just do the one, study it in your spare time, and sit it alongside your first year exams at UCL? Or just get a textbook and cover material (or even audit first year lectures at UCL) without sitting th exams.
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    (Original post by C_Yap)
    I have an offer for Natural Sciences at UCL (I chose cell/molecular biology and organic chemistry as my streams, so will be going to similar classes as biochemistry students). However, I'm also considering taking a gap year to apply to slightly different course whilst having a job and going travelling etc.

    I have a few questions I want to ask (if you won't mind answering ):
    - What is it that you don't like about the course?
    - Is it only you who isn't enjoying it?
    - The student body is undoubtedly diverse, so do people tend to stay in their cultural groups?
    - What is it about UCL that makes you not want to go there anymore?
    - How big is the jump from A level to university?
    - Can you name a couple of other things you don't like about UCL?

    Funnily enough I was on NatSci and planned to do those two streams but changed!

    To your first question: A lot of teaching has been very bad. You most likely have heard the saying "Lecturers are researchers first and teachers second". This definitely holds true for here. A big part of my course is having poor quality slides read out with little context and additional material added. This really is frustrating and it is somewhat unanimous that lectures on this course have generally been boring. Despite that, we have had some absolutely outstanding teaching, but very little of it in the grand scheme of things. It is very clear why UCL ranks poorly in terms of its teaching quality.

    Second question: I know a fair few others who are unhappy on this course. I think everyone will always have a unit they don't like so lots of people do complain about particular units, but there are some who just don't like this course. We've had a few dropouts throughout the year.

    Third question: Yes and no. There is generally a lot of mixing and people are happy to chat with others, but a lot of the time you see people sticking together in small, similar groups. If you make an effort to talk to other people you'll be able to hang out with them.

    Fourth question: UCL is very much run like a business. I do get the feeling that staff just don't care about your problems, they just want you to pay the fees and get a decent grade. The student support here is abysmal and poorly funded. There are very long waiting lists to get any help so its pretty isolating. In general I do not like the people here. People like to brag about the things they do and have done and I find it very hard to listen as being from a poor background I have not had many opportunities in my life. It always feels like a competition. This is something that you may or may not experience depending on your background I think. Maybe I just haven't met the right people here. There are some truly wonderful and inspiring people here so please don't take my words to heart.

    Fifth question: There isn't really a jump. If you are someone who works hard and effectively, you'll find the academic side of things fine. You need to have consistent discipline with your work and things get so much easier. I've heard that the jump from 1st to 2nd year is much greater than school to 1st year. If you're applying to places like UCL I can imagine you're smart so don't worry. You'll be fine if you have a genuine interest in this subject.

    Sixth question: I guess I have already covered this. I also do not like the tutorials on my courses. The topics are generally not very interesting but are quite hard, and they always seem to be set when you've got a tonne of work to do. That being said you'll really learn to manage your time. Another thing is that some content isn't taught and its up to you to learn it. For example, in previous years statistics was taught as part of one of my units. This teaching has since been scrapped and so it is down to you to learn it, and instead we had loads of lectures on scientific etiquette amongst other b.s. Despite this, a large exam for this unit was mostly statistics so that was fun for someone who did not do A-Level maths.

    Please take my words with a pinch of salt. I am not trying to dissuade you from going to UCL. It might be the perfect place for you. People have the time of their live's here, but I'm just talking about my experiences. Just note that things are tough here and you must make sure its right for you.
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    (Original post by FrooshGuitar)
    Funnily enough I was on NatSci and planned to do those two streams but changed!

    To your first question: A lot of teaching has been very bad. You most likely have heard the saying "Lecturers are researchers first and teachers second". This definitely holds true for here. A big part of my course is having poor quality slides read out with little context and additional material added. This really is frustrating and it is somewhat unanimous that lectures on this course have generally been boring. Despite that, we have had some absolutely outstanding teaching, but very little of it in the grand scheme of things. It is very clear why UCL ranks poorly in terms of its teaching quality.

    Second question: I know a fair few others who are unhappy on this course. I think everyone will always have a unit they don't like so lots of people do complain about particular units, but there are some who just don't like this course. We've had a few dropouts throughout the year.

    Third question: Yes and no. There is generally a lot of mixing and people are happy to chat with others, but a lot of the time you see people sticking together in small, similar groups. If you make an effort to talk to other people you'll be able to hang out with them.

    Fourth question: UCL is very much run like a business. I do get the feeling that staff just don't care about your problems, they just want you to pay the fees and get a decent grade. The student support here is abysmal and poorly funded. There are very long waiting lists to get any help so its pretty isolating. In general I do not like the people here. People like to brag about the things they do and have done and I find it very hard to listen as being from a poor background I have not had many opportunities in my life. It always feels like a competition. This is something that you may or may not experience depending on your background I think. Maybe I just haven't met the right people here. There are some truly wonderful and inspiring people here so please don't take my words to heart.

    Fifth question: There isn't really a jump. If you are someone who works hard and effectively, you'll find the academic side of things fine. You need to have consistent discipline with your work and things get so much easier. I've heard that the jump from 1st to 2nd year is much greater than school to 1st year. If you're applying to places like UCL I can imagine you're smart so don't worry. You'll be fine if you have a genuine interest in this subject.

    Sixth question: I guess I have already covered this. I also do not like the tutorials on my courses. The topics are generally not very interesting but are quite hard, and they always seem to be set when you've got a tonne of work to do. That being said you'll really learn to manage your time. Another thing is that some content isn't taught and its up to you to learn it. For example, in previous years statistics was taught as part of one of my units. This teaching has since been scrapped and so it is down to you to learn it, and instead we had loads of lectures on scientific etiquette amongst other b.s. Despite this, a large exam for this unit was mostly statistics so that was fun for someone who did not do A-Level maths.

    Please take my words with a pinch of salt. I am not trying to dissuade you from going to UCL. It might be the perfect place for you. People have the time of their live's here, but I'm just talking about my experiences. Just note that things are tough here and you must make sure its right for you.
    A bit hard to take it with a 'pinch of salt' haha

    Just wondering, what happens at tutorials?
 
 
 
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