Case studies of students who considered dropping out of university

University can be a stressful time for many people. For many people this will be a totally new experience, moving away from home, living away from your family and friends; thrust into a world of caring for yourself and taking charge of your own studies. Everyone will react differently: some will take to university like a new born duck takes to water; others will take a while to grow their feathers and take flight; and some students won't adapt at all.

The most important thing to remember is, it's fine not to take to university life. Or university in general. Maybe you didn't do enough research into the course and university you ended up at; maybe you're not the sociable, clubbing and drinking type of person; maybe you're too clean and tidy to put up with living like a pig; maybe you can't cope with being away from your family and friends back home; maybe all of these things will have an impact on your time at university. It's fine to feel these things.

And, contrary to popular belief, it's a myth that dropping out of university is the equivalent of failing. All of the above reasons could contribute to your decision to drop out, and in some circumstances this is likely to be the best option for you. But don't be fooled, you can't make a decision like this lightly, always make sure you've explored all other options and avenues before dropping out.

If you would like to add YOUR experiences, please make a post in this thread and they will be moved onto the wiki when possible.


Case Studies

Here are the case studies of some TSR students who have been through problems with university, but decided that dropping out what not right for them. Why not read over them, see why they made their decision, and see if their experiences can help you through your problems. Click here to read case studies of students who decided that dropping out was the best options for them.

Brap pap pap - "Don’t get me wrong, University is almost everything I expected, however I find it very hard to get motivated for the course..." Read more.

DiamondsAreForever - "I went to uni with the impression of trying to have a fresh start..." Find out why things haven't worked out for DiamondsAreForever, click here.

jonnyslaine01 - "If I drop out at xmas [...] will it be any better up north? Will I settle better closer to home? [...] Is it worth the move?" To find out what jonny's university problems are, read on.

punkyrocker - "I feel that what I must do is make the best of a bad situation." To find out about punkyrocker's situation, click here.

samesame - "I was thinking about dropping out for a while [...] but felt as though i had made too much of a financial commitment on my current course." Want to know why they were thinking about dropping out? Find out.

Singh_2 - "I thought about giving up and applying again next year but I'd rather stick it out." To see why Singh was contemplating dropping out, read more.

Steveluis10 - "I don't know what I'll do. I just don't think Uni is for me..." Find out why he doesn't feel university is for him and see what conclusion he's coming to by reading more.

The_Goose - "I realised in week 6 of year one that I wasn't enjoying my course." Find out why, and why he continued with his course by clicking here.

Brap pap pap

Don’t get me wrong, University is almost everything I expected, however I find it very hard to get motivated for the course, it’s not that I don’t enjoy the course – because I do – it’s just that as i’m living in halls I no longer have someone constantly checking up on me anymore. If you don’t turn up to lectures or seminars, the majority of the times the lecturers and tutors don’t care. You have no one pushing you anymore to do your work or attend and when you’re doing 6 modules with countless notes, assignments and presentations to complete a week it is very easy to fall behind. The amount of lectures I have missed simply because i’ve decided to go back to sleep is unreal, especially as I live a 5 minute walk from the lecture theatre there is no need for it at all.

The majority of my lecturers and tutors are fantastic, however there are a few which seem to not care about the students. Seminars which are meant to last an hour are often dismissed after 15 minutes, the tutor doesn’t know answers to questions related to the module and when lecturers or tutors are absent, cover won’t be provided thus losing out on an hour of tuition. It really is very different to 6th form and college, I knew it was going to be independent learning but it still came as a very big shock.

I can’t say I have overcome the problem of attendance and motivation yet, however I would seriously recommend talking to tutors or your subject school if you’re having real problems with settling into the new system. They are very understanding and can try and give you advice to guide you in the right direction.


In my first year of sixth form I had done well, I had ABC up my sleeve. Then about February time in my second year, I found out my grandma had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was incredibly close to my grandma. For the next three and a bit months I spent most days in the hospital, watching her deteriorate, lose her personality, watch her severely upset and be reduced to the opposite of what she was to me, the best person in the world. I started missing lots of school during this time as I couldn’t face speaking to people who were bright and bubbly where all I wanted to do was close myself off to everyone and save my happy self for my grandma. I managed to do zero rev ision, and in the middle of my summer exams she passed away. On the day of her funeral I had 3 exams, which were a clash and my head of year said I couldn’t miss these exams, in order to get predicted grades for the exams I had to sit 50% of each a level. So that was one of the hardest days of my life.

After that I’ve never been the same. I applied for good universities being predicted AAB for business management course and whatnot. It came to results day and I failed miserably. I got CCCD. I panicked and rushed through clearing and picked to go to LJMU for LLB Law trying to pick the best out of what I could with my grades.

I went to uni with the impression of trying to have a fresh start, have a new life and being able to me. I got to my accommodation and hated it. The microwave didn’t work, neither did the oven. The whole flat hadn’t been cleaned since the last load of students, so you can imagine what the toilets and sinks looked like. I spent the first few weeks pestering the accommodation to no avail as lots of other people had the same problem. In the end I had to have a meeting with the manager. Some things were sorted but even now, 6 of us are sharing one shower as the other one had rotted the floorboards and kept flooding the floor.

The people I am sharing with are... crude. I am sick of been woken up at 4am a lot of nights and not getting enough sleep. One time it was one of the girls birthday and so they were tidying the kitchen for it (for once). So they left some of my stuff that was mine outside of my door. The guys from the flat opposite came over to have drinks. One of the guys had taken my stuff outside the door and at 4am when they came banging on the door I went outside to find they had strewn everything all over the floor ... tights my mum had bought me.. clothes hanging off handles, and what I was most annoyed about, someone had stolen this book my grandma gave me before she passed away and just left the sleeve of the book. Security did hardly anything but a slap on the wrist and I got my book back 2 days later.

I have had so many problems with my course. My personal tutor is a man i honestly cannot understand 50% of what he says. I don’t think English is his first language and he has a heavy accent so I can’t understand him. One of my lecturers swears in every sentence and its really annoying when you can’t get the jist of what hes saying. Today has tipped it all off really when I thought my coursework had to be in tomorrow as indicted in the module handbook. Turns out on Sep 14th when I was ill at home for a week with swine flu, they had put a change and that the coursework was actually due today, and put no reminder since. Quite a few people had thought the same but the Uni wont allow for it, I couldn’t hand it in in time and therefore have failed 25% of a module.

I went to the doctors a couple of weeks ago to let everything out... trying to cope with my grandmas death, my mums depression because of it, my dads debilitating and deteriorating illnesses caused by his epilepsy, and he told me I had clinical depression, and gave me a letter for a month off of Uni. This only made me panic more because I just thought I would get more behind, which when I went to my lecturer to tell them, he said the exact same, and referred me to counselling. At the moment nothing is getting sorted, just sitting there and getting worse. I’ve got no clue what to do. My dream of having a fresh start and achieving in life has been shattered.


I am currently at UCD, Dublin, studying actuarial and financial maths, I got AAAA in my alevels and had a great interest in maths so I took on this path. I'm in week 12 of the first semester, the last week before a weeks revision and two weeks of exams before christmas. After a month I wasnt settling like any of my other friends into uni life, I came to uni on my own and knew no-one and aren't the best socializer in the world. I did at the start find the course difficult although its getting easier to understand, but not extremely interesting although maybe thats because we're doing no actuarial maths modules to 2nd yr, I still think that I can do this course. But I'm still not that settled...I'm in student accomadation with two others and they're rarely here so I spend most evenings in on my own...I find it hard to motivate myself to work which never was a problem and I count the days to the weekend to go home for a couple days. I've lost a lot of any self confidence I had to begin with and it's affecting my work. I dont really know what to do...I have applied to the uni all my mates are at up in Northern Ireland to do the same course and put down two others as well but havent heard from them yet, byt probably will over xmas... My parents will support me in anything I do and I have a part time job to give me a bit of money if I drop out at xmas...but I dont know, will it be any better up north? Will I settle better closer to home, with my mates who will be in 2nd year or will it be the same? Is it worth the move?


These problems apply to me:

  • Severe homesickness
  • Can't handle an LDR (long distance relationship)
  • Stress
  • Work load is too much

I suffered from all of these, in fact, in my first year as well as this first term of my second year (I am a second year Physics student at a London uni).

I'm taking a difficult and contact-heavy course. I'm often in uni from 9-7, and it really took its toll on me last year, and is beginning to do so again. However, this combined with the other problems have proved to go together quite well. I know that I cannot drop out, as I have invested far too much money in this to leave without a degree, as well as with ~£10k of debt. I also have no other option - my parents were incredibly supportive, and said they would rather I was happy than struggling through a degree I was really not enjoying. However, their one proviso was that I'd have to have a proper back-up plan - i.e., apprenticeship, course, btec, job - something worthwhile that wouldn't be me moping around at home with a part-time job at the local corner shop. As I don't have this, and am stumped as to where to start, I feel that what I must do is make the best of a bad situation, and see the bright side(s).

Struggling with an LDR is something that can only be looked at two ways: either end it, and throw yourself into uni, or decide that it is more important to you than anything, and try to preserve it. I've gone for the latter. It can be difficult, as it gets me down a lot of the time (especially when friends/flatmates say casually, "Oh, I'm meeting my boyfriend for lunch" when I know it'd take my other half 3 and a half hours to get to me!) However, as I have a very heavy workload and heavy timetable, this helps to keep my mind off it, and I find throwing myself into my work can only be a positive thing - less time to mope and talk myself into an awful state, and better results academically. It's working so far; admittedly there have been a few blips, but I feel it's worth it. The fact that my boyfriend is also a university student, and hasn't been left at home/left me for uni while I've been at home makes things more bearable, as both our lives are full, busy and developing at the same rate. If I was left at home while he was at uni, I think it would be much more difficult.

As for stress, this couples with a naturally poor immune system, and generally feeling quite awful and under the weather. However this is something I can't help (except for vitamins, healthy eating and lots of sleep - this isn't exactly the student lifestyle...), so I tend to ignore it and stock up on lemsip!

I find an optimistic approach wherever possible can help with almost everything listed above, but I think it is very important to let yourself dwell on the bad things, and for you to not get into the attitude that 'my problem isn't enough for me to be upset about', as if it's upsetting you, it definitely is. Giving each problem some serious thought can do wonders, so don't try to avoid it for months and months.


Im doing a design course and have found that it was generally really negative, feedback etc. They were only interested in the students that they really liked and gave a group of students who they really dont like a crappy technician to oversee all of our project work- yes I was in the poor group- Also it wasn't at all what they described on the open day or in the prospectus. The tutors are more interested in doing their own research than dealing with their students. I made an official complaint to the university about it, went through my student support liason instead of my personal tutor so it was anonymous. She was really helpful but nothing has really been done about it and nothing changed for me.

I also had problems with my living situation in second year, the people i moved in with from halls were an absolute nightmare, taking drugs all the time generally being disruptive and living like pigs. So I moved out with a couple of the others and we got a house together, we were fortunate enough to find people to take our rooms in the original house and got our deposit back- not always easy.

Through both of these problems I was diagnosed with depression, I would stay in bed all day, cry all the time, not go out and slept A LOT, I went to the student counseling center and had counseling for a while, not too sure how much it helped, but my depression lifted as soon as I went home for the summer.

I was thinking about dropping out for a while and starting a new course in Healthcare but felt as though i had made too much of a financial commitment on my current course. So i am sticking it out, begrudgingly, and am applying for an accelerated course for graduates when i finish.


I haven't enjoyed my time much due to disability. I'm having to rush home for hospital appointments etc and I've missed a lot of lectures. I've also been depressed because of my situation, and it doesn't help that there are barely any other first years in my accomodation. I'm living with four 2nd/3rd year students.

I'd recommend talking to your personal tutor and disability centre within the uni asap. They really do help and things such as note takers can be put in place if, for example, you can't take notes properly.

I am going to resolve my problems by staying positive. I thought about giving up and applying again next year but I'd rather stick it out. I have been offered the choice by the uni to come back next year if I wish and have a gap year.


Still debating whether or not to drop out of my second Uni in the space of 2 months. I have an essay worth 30% of my sub module for this semester in for tomorrow, 2,500 words, haven't got a clue how to do it and can't see me doing it. I feel as though I don't care at all about any of the work etc, I just need to get away from education for a bit.

Only problem is I don't know what I'll do. I just don't think Uni is for me, I see students from other cities here in my own city and they're full of enthusiasm, they love the student life etc and good on them but it's not me at all, I miss my school life of close friends having a laugh, going out maybe twice a month to town, and the rest of the time going the pub or playing footy and having a laugh.

I feel in my heart that I just need to have a year off from education after working hard to get 3 A's at A level. Would I return to Uni for a 3rd time? I don't honestly know. I suppose it all depends on how my year went, if I got a job and found I preferred that then maybe I'd just try and go in to the working world without a degree.

My biggest problem still is telling my mum and dad. I don't think they'd be too happy that I'm quitting Uni again but surely it's better to tell them then to go through 3 years feeling slightly underwhelmed by the whole thing.

God things are tough once you leave school!


I realised in week 6 of year one that I wasn't enjoying my course. I loved the university and the staff, but I couldn't motivate myself to do any additional reading or even the essential reading. I basically bumbled through year one until may when I started really trying to learn the material and force myself to do it. My first year marks were good but I'm still not happy in my course. At the minute I'm coping by counting the teaching weeks - when i went back at start of year 2 I had 48 weeks left of degree - which is 11 months spread over 2 years. And I'm basically counting the weeks off until I'm free.

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you think you've past the point of no return for dropping out - or realise depressingly that you need a degree to get on in life (really let’s face it) but there's nothing you want to study in such great depth - then all is not lost. I'm just doing enough to get a mark I'm happy with, without killing myself over it. Don't make it any harder than it has to be.