Graduating high school and moving on to college can be a huge transition. It can often appear glamorous when portrayed in film and TV shows, but many first-year college students don’t find their experience aligning with their expectations. What should you do if you hate your college?
If you hate your college, you should make some adjustments to your course or major, if that is the problem. Or, if the problem is that you hate the people, professors, or environment, you can either transfer or drop out. Of course, dropping out is a last resort, and you should try other options 1st.
In the rest of this article, we will go through some common scenarios college students face and what to do about them. We’ll see what to do if you hate your college, if you hate your coursework or major or if you are struggling to enjoy your peers.
I’m Smart but I Hate College
Many smart high school students spend their senior year dreaming of their college life. College can seem like a haven of challenging courses in areas of interest, the ability to pursue topics in more depth, and freedom that doesn’t exist for many high schoolers.
However, smart students may find themselves in their first semester and simply hate it.
There are so many reasons that this might be the case. Some of the issues are just a matter of adjusting, while others might be a sign that bigger changes are needed.
A Time of Transition
While it has been repeatedly said that college is a huge transition, this can be true in so many different ways. A first-year college student may find themselves in a new town or city, immersed in an environment of people they don’t know and studying topics in a new way.
While some of these transitions may be non-issues, others may have a bigger impact than was expected.
The size and style of the college can be more of a transition than expected. Let’s say a student is from a large high school and opts for a small liberal arts college. They expect the small class size and attention from teachers to be a big advantage for their college experience.
However, for students coming from big high schools and large cities, they might just not end up feeling comfortable in an environment where everyone knows their name. They may crave the things that come with a big university with thousands of students and countless courses to sign up for.
What may have seemed like a better learning environment may not pan out, depending on what students are willing and able to adjust to. College will be the first time for many high school students that they experience a new environment.
Some students will immediately love the new environment, but others will not find the environment ideal for them.
What To Do
If you are feeling like you chose the wrong college, don’t worry. You are certainly not the first college student to absolutely hate your experience.
However, there are plenty of things you can do to change your experience for the better.
Start with some small changes to see if you can settle into your current environment. Try finding a club or activity that you’re really excited about. The right club can connect you to your people and can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling in your current environment.
For some people, it simply takes time to make friends.
Extroverts may thrive on meeting tons of new people on campus and accepting countless invites to activities and parties. Introverts may find themselves in a catch-22 as they crave authentic relationships but don’t enjoy the traditional large group ways of meeting new people.
If you think of yourself as an introvert, give yourself some time to find the right people.
As you pursue your interests in a way that feels comfortable for you, you are likely to make like-minded friends. Having a few good friends to share your experience with can be a game-changer and may make you decide to stay at your current college after all.
If you feel like you’ve really tried your best at your current campus but simply do not want to stay, transferring between colleges is a common choice. After experiencing a semester or two at one campus, you might have a much better idea of what you want in a college.
You might choose to go from your small liberal arts school to a massive university or the other way around. You might choose a college that has more offerings for your particular interests or is located in a part of the country you are more excited to live in.
I Hate My College Course
At some point in your time in college, you are bound to end up in a course that you simply hate.
Maybe it’s the size of the class, maybe it’s the professor’s teaching style, or maybe it’s the material itself. Whatever it is, there is bound to be a class or two that you simply do not like. If you find yourself in this position, there are a few things you can try to do.
If you are worried about the grade you will get and how it will impact your GPA, consider taking the class pass/fail.
Some universities will let you take a class pass/fail after the semester has already begun. If you pass, it will count towards the requirement it is fulfilling, and you will earn credit. However, you will not have a numerical grade impacting your GPA.
Knowing how long you have to drop a course without a penalty is another good date to have in mind. If you get a sense early on that this particular class is not for you, you might be able to drop the class without penalty.
You might be able to register for the same class with another teacher or a different course altogether that would still fulfill the requirement.
For the first year or so of your university degree, you will likely have to fulfill many general education requirements. This might mean even though you are an English major and in love with all your literature classes, you have to go to your statistics class twice a week to fulfill your math requirement.
It is natural not to love all your required classes.
You can speak with other people in your major to see which courses they opted for to fulfill the challenging requirements. If you can find out what teachers your peers enjoyed, you can make better-informed decisions when it comes time to register for classes.
I Chose the Wrong Major
Choosing the wrong major is a common realization that college students have.
It can be a particularly painful one, especially if it’s after a few years of dedicated study to that major. However, you have options, no matter how far along you are in your chosen field of study.
Many students choose their majors before arriving at college with the influences they had as high schoolers. Parents or other influential figures may have pushed them towards certain fields. Even students themselves may think they are interested in one thing, but after really studying it and understanding what a career in the field would entail, they change their minds.
Becoming disillusioned with one field of study after experiencing it more deeply is a very common experience for many students.
So, what do you do if you’re on track to graduate with a degree you don’t want?
Change Majors or Adjust Your Focus
If you’re still early in your college career, you might be able to change majors very easily. It may be as simple as visiting your advisor and understanding what credits you have already taken will apply to your new course of study.
From there, you can begin registering for classes more relevant to your new major.
If you are further along in your major, it might not be possible to switch majors and still graduate on time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passions. Consider taking electives in the field you are more interested in or finding a way to do an internship that is meaningful to you.
You might be able to shift the focus of your study to something more meaningful. You might also be able to add a minor to your degree to allow you to pursue an interest without requiring additional semesters of study.
Recognize the Value of Your Degree
If you’re close to graduation and realize you do not want to work in the field you have been studying, don’t panic. This is a common experience. The fact that you are graduating with a college degree will open many doors for you.
You can take comfort in the fact that many people end up working in other fields than what they studied.
Additionally, your degree in your original major can be a stepping stone to a graduate degree or internship in the field you are more interested in. An English major might easily attend law school after graduation, or someone who studied statistics may take an unexpected internship in public health.
It may take a little creativity, but your degree can help propel you to the field where your interest truly lies.
I Hate the People at My College
People react in different ways when they enter a new environment full of new people.
It can be exhilarating for some, as some students love the sea of new faces they can chat with and get to know. They are thrilled about all the activities and social opportunities that can come with life on a college campus.
For other students, this is a nightmare.
For students who do not socialize in this way, they can feel like everyone but them is loving the social scene of college. The truth is there are probably plenty of others on campus feeling similar to them; it’s just a matter of finding each other.
You may hate the people at your college because you haven’t connected with the few like-minded people that are there somewhere.
By taking classes that really spark your interest and joining clubs where you’re likely to meet others like you, you increase your chances of finding the right people and making meaningful relationships.
However, you might just be in the wrong place.
Colleges and universities have different vibes, and you might have ended up in a place that isn’t a good match for you. If you put in a bit of effort to find your people but really feel like they’re not there, you might consider transferring to a campus that is a better match for you.
If the idea of making a lateral move doesn’t excite you, look into your college’s study abroad options. College culture can be extremely different in other countries, and you might find a better match for you and your priorities by using your passport.
This can be an amazing way to meet people from all over the world and have a more open-minded, international college experience. You will also get access to courses you wouldn’t have been able to study in your home country.
You might discover a love for language, architecture, or history that you didn’t know you had.
The more you are able to discover yourself, the more likely you are to find the right people for you. The better we understand ourselves, the easier we can pursue our true interests and priorities.
When we are able to do that successfully, we are able to find other people who are closely aligned with ourselves. This can be the basis for great friendships and belonging in your college environment.
If you went to college with high hopes and expectations, don’t worry if your actual experience is not measuring up. Hating some part of the college experience (or the whole thing) is a common part of the transition.
By giving some of these tips and suggestions a try, you can see if you are able to settle into your new environment or if you are better off changing your campus or course of study altogether.