My Second Try At First Year: What I’ve Learned From Changing Course

Just because it was great at school doesn’t mean it’s great at uni

School, and even college/sixth form to some extent, is like being spoon-fed information all for the purpose of passing that end-of-year exam. When you’re given an entire year to revise the same stuff and ace all the tests, you can come out of it thinking your best or easiest subject is your ultimate calling in life.

When you reach university, though, it’s a whole new ball game. Topics change weekly, basic concepts are taught and it’s down to you to read independently to understand and apply them. You’re tested pretty much all year round and you often have to come up with your own coursework questions. It’s not surprising that this may be the moment you realize you’ve made a mistake and you don’t really care about the subject beyond getting a good grade.

It’s your life - enjoy it

To really do well and have a positive uni experience, you have to be genuinely interested in your course and be prepared to put the work in; don’t just choose something because it’s the easiest route to a career. Unless it’s a very specific degree like medicine, most degrees open doors to graduate employment in endless areas, not just those directly related to your degree subject.


Except if you’re one of the few who are lucky enough to know your passion in life and your degree will 100% lead you to achieving your dreams, there will be times when you question yourself, and it may be a case of trial and error. It’s much better to accept that you lost a year and switch to a more enjoyable and rewarding degree than find yourself trapped on a course you hate for 3+ years.


First year isn’t pointless - do the work!

I know, I know. Hear me out. During first semester last year, I realized my degree wasn’t for me. As if conveniently scripted, I swiftly entered a downwards spiral of tears and procrastination, followed by more tears. I felt like I was learning nothing, and there was no point of me even being there.


This year, I’ve come to realize that when I find the content genuinely interesting, my motivation skyrockets. My work is completed much sooner, leaving me with a lot of free time. Last year’s worn-out excuse of not having enough time to both study and have fun proved to be pure myth.

Don’t silence your doubts

Don’t ignore the signs that things aren’t right. If I had ignored the bad feelings I had about my previous degree choice, I never would have taken the initiative to contact the university and make a change, and I would have just accepted unhappiness. Considering your doubts can unlock your true feelings when it comes to anything.

Changing your mind does not equal failure

I don’t want to go all Jaden Smith on everyone and recommend dropping out, because a university education can help massively for future careers. Equally, I wouldn’t recommend giving up and changing course just because you don’t like one of your teachers or the work is a bit difficult.


I’ve come to understand the difference between feeling stressed because university is challenging and feeling stressed because university is unenjoyable. Even though I finally clicked it was the latter for me, the fear of being called a “failure” nearly stopped me from changing anything, and a part of me was ready to commit to two more years of misery. Little did I know that taking control and changing things would make me feel more like I succeeded in fighting expectation, and I no longer have to pretend I’m enjoying myself to please others.