Dropping out of uni might not sound like a sensible move, but Gabby hasn't regretted it for a second. Here's why...
Going to university in London was THE DREAM. I’d always imagined myself living in central, strutting the city streets and generally living the high life, so was beyond excited when I received my offer from Kings College London.
Things started promisingly - my new halls just so happened to neighbour the Shard, surrounded by the likes of Borough Market, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, I felt like I’d hit the uni jackpot.
But within weeks, my dream started falling apart.
A 40 minute walk to campus was not ideal, especially when I had a 9am philosophy lecture on Descartes theory of doubt. Doubt was something I had a lot of when I realised the train station next to my halls didn’t have a direct link to the uni campus, so wasn’t much quicker than walking.
Then there was the fact I only had four lectures a week - each two hours long, with no engagement with other students. My attention span’s relatively poor, so I walked out of lectures having picked up three facts about the subject at most. I couldn’t help feeling I’d have probably been better off just reading a book on the topic on my own (which is pretty upsetting when you’re signing up to a lifetimes worth of debt!).
At the time I had no idea how unusual it was that my course didn’t include any seminars. No wonder I didn’t know what on earth was going on the majority of the time! The lack of seminars also hugely impacted my social life and ability to make friends with anyone on my course, as we never actually had the opportunity to talk to each other!
In fact, the social side of my uni experience was as big a let down as my course. In my 14-person flat, only one other person wasn’t studying science, which made it hard to feel part of things (all the science guys were on the same schedule and had loads more in common). And it's not as if I was meeting people through extra-curricular activities either. I’d love to say I joined all the societies I’d intended to (I made a somewhat hefty list before freshers), but in reality I did the classic freshers thing of signing up for every society under the sun, but never actually attending anything. Not that it was totally my fault, because it turns out it’s actually pretty difficult to immerse yourself in the university experience when the societies are spread out across a city the size of London.
It was probably pretty naive of me to have thought I’d be able to afford the life of luxury (i.e a single drink) in London on a student budget, and I soon discovered that as a disengaged student, I felt completely out of place with the big shots walking the streets of the city in their suits and heels. It wasn’t long before I began to feel truly useless, disappointed and lonely. Ultimately, I realised I wasn’t living the dream I’d imagined.
The first time I considered dropping out was probably about a month in, however the uncertainty of what I was going to do next was too daunting for me to take any sort of action in first term. I remember sitting in my kitchen discussing career prospects/ various ways to make money with my housemates. It was when I genuinely considered selling my eggs, which is not only painful but also extremely controversial, that I realised something needed to change.
One friend became a guru, frequently sitting me down to make a list of the pros and cons of staying a uni (this boy has remained one of my dearest friends to this day). Spurred on by his support, I went to see my personal tutor, who questioned why I was studying the subject and ultimately told me that if I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t really worth sticking it out.
I went back home for the Christmas holidays to consider my options, not really knowing whether I’d make it back for second term. But after six weeks of working in retail, the idea of going back to uni didn’t seem so bad…
Except it was. After two weeks, I decided that sitting at the back of a biblical studies lecture (which I may have actually found interesting if the lecturer wasn’t so dull) browsing ASOS was not worth paying £9000 a year for. So I finally decided to do it - take the leap and drop out (despite waking up that day from a text from my mum which read: ”I think you’re making a mistake”).
I left the unrealistic dream behind me, not knowing what on earth I was going to do next, or how I was going to cope being one of the only members of my friendship group living back home.
Writing this three years later, I know I made the right decision. I’ve just entered my third year at Leeds studying Broadcast Journalism, and although dropping out of uni was scary, it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I can tell you that I am much better suited to uni life in a place that is almost entirely made up of students, where it’s difficult to avoid social contact and I can actually afford to buy a drink!