What to Do If You’re Not Enjoying University | Top Universities

What to Do If You’re Not Enjoying University

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Chloe Lane

Updated Apr 20, 2021



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Your move to university rides on a lot of built up expectations. You are consistently told your time at university will be the best years of your life, where you will meet lifelong friends and learn lots about things that interest you.

Unfortunately, sometimes university just doesn’t live up to these expectations – maybe you don’t particularly enjoy the lifestyle, perhaps you really don’t like your course, or even the people you’re living with. There are plenty of reasons that you might not be enjoying university life, and when it seems like everyone else is having the time of their life; it can sometimes feel like a completely isolating experience.

The reality is that university is tough, and even if you are coping with your course workload, there are many other aspects of university that can make it an unpleasant experience. It’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one feeling this way, and there’s always someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling.

Read on for some tips on what you should do if you’re not enjoying university.

Step 1: Figure out what’s making you unhappy

Figure out why you're unhappy

The first thing to do once you’ve established that you aren’t really enjoying university is to try to figure out why that is. This can be easier said than done; often when you’re unhappy, it’s due to a multitude of different reasons and factors, so it can be extremely difficult to select just one.

However, if you really think about it, you’ll likely discover that one factor is bothering you more than the others, whether it’s your accommodation, your current friendship group (or lack of), or your course. 

Once you’ve isolated the problem, it’s easier to figure out how to fix it. Remember, most things in university can be changed, even if they don’t feel like they can right now, especially during your first year. Figure out what you want to change first about your university life, and then at least you have just one problem to tackle rather than a tangled mess of issues.

Step 2: Talk to people

Talk about your problems

Once you’ve established what it is you want to change, it’s now time to implement this change. Figure out whom you can contact to learn more about how to solve this issue.

If you want to change your accommodation, you can talk to your housing office on campus to see what options are available to you. Lots of universities often offer a room swapping scheme in your first year of university, where you can switch rooms with another student, or move to different accommodation.

If you’re struggling with, or just not enjoying your course, you should talk to your personal tutor to discuss what you should do about this. If you’re struggling, you can also talk to your lecturer about this after class, or during their office hours, and they may help by talking you through aspects of the module that you’re struggling with.

If you’re concerned that your unhappiness may be more serious, and that it may be associated with anxiety or depression, then you should consult your university’s mental health service. Most universities offer counselling services, which can be extremely helpful. If you’re unsure, it may be worth going to an initial consultation.

To help with homesickness, make sure you regularly call home, and keep in touch with your old school friends and family. It’s always good to discuss whatever is bothering you with people who know you well, and who care about you, especially in your first year when homesickness is likely to be at its peak.  

Step 3: Give it time

Give it time

You probably don’t want to hear this, but sometimes things do take a bit of time. Once you’ve figured out what it is that’s bothering you, wait a little while to see if it improves naturally on its own.

For example, if you’re only in your second week of your first year, and you’re struggling to establish a friendship group, this is entirely normal. Just because there are people who meet their best friends in the first week, these people are by no means the majority. A lot of students are going to be feeling the exact same way that you are. Sometimes friendship groups can take a bit longer to form, and you may not meet your close friends until later in the year.

Similarly, you may decide soon after starting that your course isn’t for you. While this might be the case, it may also be that the modules you’re currently taking aren’t ones that interest you. There may be other modules available that you would find way more enjoyable, and it’s definitely worth exploring.

If you’re in first year, generally give it at least until Christmas before you consider leaving. This allows you time to settle in, get used to your course, and make new friends.

Step 4: Decide whether university is right for you, or if you want to change courses

Changing courses

If you’ve already tried all of this, and university life isn’t getting any better, it may be worth considering whether university is right for you. University life isn’t for everyone and perhaps an apprenticeship will suit you better, or you could get work experience in the industry you want to work in, or perhaps you could take a gap year.

If you really dislike your course or university, making a change can be an extremely positive step. If you’re thinking of changing course you must do the relevant research. Get advice from tutors about what you can do to resolve any academic issues, in case you do decide to stay.

Before you make these decisions, consult your personal tutor or course leader, your course office and administrator, the student support service, as well as the careers service in your university.

Step 5: Changing courses or universities


Leaving Uni

If you do decide to leave or change courses, your university will be able to help you with the next steps. Remember, changing your mind after realizing something isn’t right for you isn't a bad thing. If anything, it will likely help you out in the long run.

Transferring universities or changing courses can sometimes feel like the end of the world, but it really isn’t. Many students drop out of their course every year – it’s a lot more normal than you might think. Remember, changing your mind after realizing something isn’t right for you isn’t a bad thing! In the long run, you’ll probably be glad you made the decision to change something that wasn’t right for you.

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