Article written by Zuzanna Safian

It might have been just a few weeks into your university journey or, alternatively, you have almost finished the academic year, but, nevertheless, something does not feel right. You might be failing your exams, or feeling tired and unmotivated. Suddenly, you start wondering whether the choice of the degree programme was accurate. Or maybe, is it just a ‘bad’ phase that will go away eventually?

I think some of the first-year students may relate to the situation above. Read below and find some tips on how to handle this without going insane.

1) Analyse the situation

First and foremost, do not panic! It might seem overwhelming at first, but panicking will not get you anywhere. Feeling lost and confused is common among young people looking for a purpose in their lives.

Try to find the source of the ‘problem’. Ask yourself these questions:

If you are failing exams, is it because you did not study?

Have you been busy with work and/or other activities recently?

If you do not feel motivated, is it because you do not enjoy the studies?

Have you been feeling a little down because of the weather in the recent weeks?

Do you miss your family a lot and feel homesick?

Finding the possible justification will help you to determine the next steps that you need to take.

2) Talk to family, friends and/or a student advisor

Expressing your doubts to people you trust is probably the most sensible idea. Ask your parents or friends whether they have encountered such issues during their studies as well. You might discover that your friend, for example, was once close to dropping out due to such doubts too.

Knowing that others share similar uncertainties will give you the comfort of not being alone with such ‘problems’. Scheduling an appointment with a student advisor at your university might also be effective. Such person meets a lot of young students who are just as confused as you. He or she is there to help you and will not leave you without any useful advice.

There is nothing wrong with being unsure about your career path and no one will judge you.

3) Let’s suppose you know what is wrong. What next?

If it is just the difficult period in your life, do not blame yourself! Everyone has ups and downs. If you feel that this degree programme is still for you, go for it and do your best. Even if you are a little behind with the studiesdo not panic. Perhaps friends at your university might help you with the courses that you do not understand. You can also try studying in the groups to explain commonly misunderstood topics.

Furthermore, there are a lot of websites that offer free courses and materials on various subjects. Try KhanAcademy, Coursera or edX, if you have not already. Getting back on track definitely requires a lot of hard work but it will pay off handsomely, I guarantee. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you and hope that you will continue with your study and succeed.

4) You can always choose a different study
If, after the deep analysis, you have concluded that the degree programme is not for you, guess what: do not panic! I know that the sense of failure might be lingering, but do not let it get to you. There are hundreds or even thousands of students in the same spot at your university. It is hard for young adults, especially, to admit that they have made a mistake.

Do not dwell on the past, create the future. The new possibilities might be just around the corner. Do you know what degree programme to choose next? Great. Make sure to not miss the deadline for the application and wait for the fresh start! In between, you can work a little, travel or just learn something new, like a language or a practical skill.

Are you not sure what to study next? Do not worry. Try to analyse what courses you have enjoyed during your studies. What makes you really interested? What are you passionate about? Sometimes students choose the degree programme just because of the practical or financial reasons and it does not work well for them. I firmly believe that going for something that you truly enjoy will definitely help you overcome the future struggles.

Do not despair because you do not know what to do next. Maybe it istime for you to take a one-year break and do something completely different. How about volunteer work or just regular work to save you some cash for the future? How about starting the language course that you always dreamed about? Or maybe you just want to go backpacking to South America to find yourself? Whatever suits you. I believe that you will find your desired career path eventually.

5) Do not give up! You will figure out your way eventually!
In summary, having doubts is what makes us ultimately humans. Whether you wish or not to change the study, you definitely get to know yourself more during such difficulties. Do not let other people affect your decisions, it is your life, not your parents’ or friends’.

Keep your mind open to different career paths and do not worry too much about the ‘big’ things in life. Take small steps and do not surrender!