This may not be what new students want to read just before they start university, so feel free to skip this post if you’re a first-year. University was a very important time in my life and I have absolutely no regrets about going, but I did drop out whilst halfway through my second year and I think the internet could benefit from my story. For context: I went to the University of Gloucestershire and studied Television Production BA (Hons), but graduated with a CertHE as I left early.
My first year of university was 99.8% great. I made amazing friends in halls (similar to Dorms if you’re from the US), partied a bit, kissed too many boys and generally had an awesome time. I became more confident, struggled less with anxiety and just felt… free.
But, in my second year, when my grades actually counted towards my degree and I decided to put some more effort in (I still got a 2:1 for first year, though), I realised something: I really didn’t like my course. I didn’t want to go into Television when I graduated and all I really enjoyed was editing, which I never actually got an opportunity to do in my first year. There was so much theory work which felt completely irrelevant and that I wasn’t interested in, so in October 2014 I decided that I wanted to drop out. I met my now-husband in that same October too, so I had his support in my decision. It actually took two months to be able to leave, so my last official day was the 13th December 2014.
I probably could have stuck at my course and graduated with a 2:1 at least if it wasn’t for something that happened towards the end of first year. Someone on my course who I had been casually ‘seeing’ suddenly decided to ignore me for weeks, without telling me why or what I had done. This confused me, because we were friends first and dating second, but he started being a bit mean about me behind my back to my coursemates.
Cut forward a few weeks and one argumentative and drunk (me, not the driver) car ride later and he was hammered outside my flat, telling me he was in love with me. I told him to get out and to go home. A few days later, he was sober and doing the same. I told him I didn’t love him like that and just saw him as a friend (despite him being an arsehole). That’s when it really started.
He started a vendetta; turning people against me and spreading rumours like I’d slept with half of Cheltenham and even with other people on the course. He drafted in a friend to help him slander my name. We were put together in a group project where luckily I didn’t have to see him much, but I was still getting abusive messages via the group chat we had set up to talk about the work. It got to the point where I was worried he would sabotage my grades by complaining about me to the lecturer, so I told my tutor about it, including screenshots and ‘witness statements’. By then it was too late; I needed to escape that toxic environment, and fast.
The university didn’t have a bullying policy at the time of my problems, but thanks to my situation they created one. That’s the legacy I left behind! It only took effect after I dropped out. The person and his friend who had ruined my life went unpunished. When I didn’t go back to university after the Christmas break, I felt like a failure and weak for letting the situation control my life so I cut everyone out that reminded me of university and moved in with Chris, which meant I lost my housemates’ close friendships, but I felt it was the best choice for me at the time.
This storytime was a little bit upsetting to write, because I still have so many regrets about things that happened, but I met my husband thanks to university, so I can’t say I regret the whole experience. My advice to everyone applying to or starting university is: don’t sleep with your coursemates until third year (so there’s only a few months left if things go sour) and make sure the course you’re doing isn’t too specific, so it doesn’t restrict you in terms of a career after you graduate. Think long and hard about what you want to do. And try not to let one person ruin your life like what happened with me.
Below is a very old video that talks about the situation and my feelings in more detail as well as another old video about why I dropped out of university for the second time.