Why I dropped out of Oxford to join King’s
Oxbridge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be….
This time three years ago, I had made one of the biggest decisions of my life to date. I decided to leave Oxford after my first year. When I knew I wasn’t enjoying the course, they couldn’t accommodate a change of course and got me thinking, this isn’t the right place for me. There are so many reasons why I dropped out, but what I now know is that I was seeking a university life where I could be happier, healthier and able to have a well balanced life. Here are all the reasons why I'm extremely grateful I made the change..
Not having to deal with the endless torrent of exams (and wear stupid clothes to take them)
Had I stayed at Oxford, I would currently be battling with finals. My entire degree would be resting on ten exams over two weeks, the culmination of my four years of study based on forty hours of exams. I also had exams at the start of every term, and I was told that if I didn’t achieve over 60% in my second year October exams, I wouldn’t be allowed back into the university.
I also do not miss having to wear my gown and subfusc. Imagine how hot and gross it is at Olympia in June, and then imagine doing that in a white collared shirt, ribbon, gown etc. You can be turned away from your exams if you’re not dressed properly (and that includes wearing black socks!), which is super stressful in every unnecessary way.
Live life outside of academia, actually doing stuff with my life
I was so excited about going to university and getting to take up new skills. I was going to Oxford so I was really keen to take up rowing – the second I got into a boat I was totally hooked. I was also singing four times a week in a chapel choir, which was the best thing that I did. I loved both of them, it was how I met all my friends at university and made me really happy. But because of the pressures of the degree and the amount of work I had to do meant that I couldn’t do it all and come to a point where I had to basically stop everything other than working.
At KCL, I can basically do everything I want; I can sell my soul to the Theatre societies, play hockey, sing occasionally, see people, sleep, write for the Tab, actually do well in my degree, have a job…..yeah, it’s pretty good!
Have a full nights sleep once in a while
At Oxford, I was functioning on maybe four to five hours of sleep a night (on a good day). I would be up working until 2am and then would be up at 6am to go rowing. Sure, this was self-inflicted, but I had language lessons at 8:45 or 9am every day that I couldn’t miss, so at least it meant that I was up and out and never skipped them.
After I finished for my first term, I went home and slept for 22 hours. I was supposed to be going on holiday the next day, but I got home, sat at my kitchen table and wept with tiredness before my dad had to essentially put me to bed, and I didn’t appear until the next evening. Sure, I can now function on very little sleep but I would much rather get 7 hours and not miss whole days rather than running myself into the ground.
Reading weeks are literal BLESSINGS
I love reading week. It's so nice being able to have a moment in the middle of term to pause, go away and get some cheeky sun in the middle of February and catch up on work. Doing an English degree, there is a lot of reading week to week, and it's really nice to have a chance to just sit and read and get it all done without having to worry about classes and deadlines.
Having a personal tutor who actually gives a damn about me
This might sound ridiculous, but for me, this is the biggest thing for me. My personal tutor at Oxford made my life hell. He was known throughout my college as being a hard ass, and gave a (now legendary) speech to the freshers where he said that in his capacity as Dean he didn’t care about our personal lives, we were just there to work. A
fter my first meeting with my personal tutor at KCL, I rang my mum and cried. I had seen that I had a male tutor and I was terrified, but I met him and was so surprised to have someone who actually seemed to care about my degree. Two years in, he continues to give me support and asks about my work but also is keen to encourage me to keep up my extra- curriculas.
For some people, Oxford works. It’s everything they want from a university degree, they go and work really hard, are taught by impressive academics and get an automatic job after they graduate. But for me, it wasn’t right. I was unhappy and unhealthy, would have just worked myself into the ground and probably had a massive breakdown.
Don't get me wrong, I met some wonderful people there and I'm glad that I went, because it's made me much happier now I'm somewhere actually getting a good education and I make so much more of it. Now, I stand a chance at getting a much better class of degree and being able to actually think about what I want to do after I graduate rather than burning out. Basically, King's is great.