Tales of an Exeter Dropout
One exe-student tells us why Exeter didn’t work for her…
I was a student at Exeter University for seven weeks before I decided it wasn’t for me. I made the bold move to drop out and proceeded to commence my second gap year.
After attending no university open days, visiting nada university friends, selecting my five choices based solely on how fun Facebook photos looked and arbitrarily choosing a subject that I knew nothing about, I had finally applied to university. I carefully disguised my elimination method by telling family and friends that I had done extensive research on the internet, which, if one counts a social networking website as ‘the internet’ is completely true.
I didn’t give the whole UCAS procedure any more thought; I was more than certain I would get offers as my adoring Mother had written my personal statement, making sure to include key information such as my passion for playing the recorder and my contribution to the school rounders team.
Off I went on my three month ski holiday and the offers started trailing in. After a long afternoon of après-ski I arrived back to my room to an offer from Exeter. I woke up the following morning to discover that the human embodiment of the mulled wine had kindly accepted on my behalf. I was perfectly happy with the wines’ decision and my family were over the moon that I was going to such a ‘respectable’ university; a clear contrast to the vision that they all had (however much they deny it) of me spending my entire life as a professional potato peeler, conjured up by my seriously unimpressive A-Level predictions and generally dire performance at school.
All of a sudden it was ‘freshers week’ and my parents, clothes, bedding, all of my belongings and I were piled into the car and driven down to Devon. It had all happened so quickly, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was studying or why I was even going. I had chosen ‘Sociology’ all those months ago as my dad had recognised that I ‘love to socialise’ and at the time I genuinely believed that this was an accurate assessment of what studying Sociology at uni would entail.
As we were driving through Exeter city centre I demonstrated the sound knowledge that Facebook had provided me with by asking my parents whether Exeter was a campus University – they were really impressed!
I think it’s fair to say that I hadn’t chosen Exeter in a very orthodox manner and therefore it’s hardly surprising that it turned out to be nothing like how I had expected. When selecting my halls I had no idea that they would be situated at the bottom of Mount Everest. The name ‘Birks Grange’ is not in any way an honest depiction of the accommodation as the most prominent attribute has conveniently not been included in the name. Realistically the halls should be named ‘Birks HILL Grange’ or better still ‘Grange HILL’. Apart from the hill, whose influence as to why I dropped out of university should never be underestimated, there were, of course other contributing factors.
It wasn’t until the third week of university that I decided it was necessary to actually attend tuition. Armed with a map and hiking boots, I scrambled up the hill and ventured into this unfamiliar world of buildings used for lectures, seminars and tutorials. After ten minutes spent searching one building for a room that I then discovered didn’t exist, I ambled over to the next building and finally located where I thought I was supposed to be. I walked in, apologised profusely (for arriving twenty minutes late), climbed over every student present and then took a seat at the very far side of the room.
Suddenly the tutor was looking directly at me and wanted to know my take on the subject; obviously I had absolutely no idea what the the class had been discussing as I had dedicated the past five minutes to mastering the art of removing my coat without attracting more attention to myself. I knew I had to respond so eventually managed to articulate something unbelievably vague about how there were many ways to interpret ‘it’ and that it would take too long to examine every angle. Surprisingly the tutor didn’t look in any way impressed and gave me that look that I’m far too familiar with, the one that directly reads as ‘poor you, you really aren’t very clever are you?’
I naively assumed that it couldn’t get much worse until the registration list was passed around. By the time it got to me I was actually looking forward to proudly signing my signature next to my name in print, proving to everyone in the room that I was a legitimate sociology student at the University of Exeter. I took one look at the piece of paper and my heart actually sank – to my absolute mortification my name wasn’t on the list. Not only had I arrived inappropriately late, disrupted the entire class and embarrassed myself by not being able to contribute to the discussion but I WASN’T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.
I handed the list back to the tutor, praying that he wouldn’t say anything. Inevitably he just had to glance at it before announcing ‘there’s one too many people in the classroom’. I bravely looked up from my feet to TEN ‘poor you, you really aren’t very clever are you?’ looks. HOW DID THEY ALL KNOW IT WAS ME, it could have been anyone in the room?! I sat quietly at the side until the tutorial was over. After that disaster, I made appearances at a couple of lectures until I decided sociology wasn’t really anything to do with ‘socialising’ and wasn’t the right course for me.
Ultimately I decided that as I’m not keen on learning or applying myself to anything, such an academic and sporty university wasn’t really the most suitable environment. There were loads of aspects holding me there, but I came to the conclusion that the negatives outweighed the positives. The solid lesson that flippancy and nonchalance cannot be applied to every situation has been drummed into my head (by my mother several times), and I know now that I must actually devote some thought towards important decisions in the future.