By Rachel Garvey
I miss NUI Galway, there’s no doubt about that. I envy the students who get to attend their lectures every day, who get to experience the taste of college life; the anxious feeling you get when looking for a seat in the library and then that feeling of pure relief when you come across a vacant space, walking through the concourse and trying to move amongst the current of students trying to go the opposite direction, that pigeon in Smokeys who is probably still there. You may be asking how I know all this? The answer is clear and simple, I was a student there recently. I dropped out back in February, due to a number of reasons. I was a 2nd year BA student studying English and Law and going to college every day made me feel like I belonged somewhere. I’ve heard of students dropping out shortly after Orientation Week and I can empathize with them – the decision to drop out is not an easy one. Please don’t judge those who drop out, there are many reasons behind the decision and some are hard to discuss with your peers and lecturers in the college.
One reason can be financial difficulty. College comes with a list of expenses, with books, tuition fees, trips, repeat exams and so much more. A lot of students rely on the grant because, at least then, the tuition fee is one less headache to worry about. I was on a grant myself, as neither of my parent’s worked and it got me through, but the reason for my decision to leave NUI Galway was indeed due to financial difficulty. I failed two Law exams at Christmas and the grant money I was receiving every month went towards materials I needed for college, as well as trying to support the family. The fee of €295 was constantly weighing on my mind and my family. I didn’t want anyone scraping together money just so I could repeat.
A second reason could be related to family matters. A lot of students have to move away from home to attend college. Of course, students visit their families on the weekends and during college holidays, but there is still the anxiety and stress of living away from home, living away from everything that looks and feels familiar and it is a big change. Students can become homesick, no matter what age or gender they are. We are all human and there’s no shame in wanting to see your Mum, Dad or siblings.
The last two reasons can be tied together into one, a big knot that I wasn’t able to undo; personal issues and loss of passion. A lot of students deal with mental health problems and that can lead to them losing their passion to continue on with their course. Take me, for example, I deal with anxiety, I failed the exams and my anxiety sky-rocketed about whether I could really continue with college or not, was I worthy enough? I lost the battle and, after speaking to numerous supports throughout the college, I arrived at the decision to leave NUI Galway. After the process of dropping out, I felt lost in the world, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and I definitely felt disconnected from people.
Now is a different story though. I have a job and will be attending a creative writing course in GTI soon and I’ve got a more relaxed view of what the future holds. College isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. There is no need to feel ashamed if it doesn’t work out in the end. Take some time for yourself and figure out what you would like to do with your life, there is honestly no rush. College didn’t work out for me the first time, but under no circumstances does that mean I’ve swept the idea of returning back someday under the rug. I plan on returning to NUI Galway someday as a mature student and enrolling in a Creative Writing course, perhaps a Journalism course. You may have failed this time around, but try again later. As my Nan used to tell me, “You may not succeed now, but you can try again later” and try I will. I’m still very grateful to be a part of SIN though, there’s still that small connection to NUI Galway right there.
If you are thinking of dropping out, then please talk to someone. NUIG has so many supports; your lecturers, the Students’ Union, your class reps, or even just a friend. Don’t suffer in silence. Yes, dropping out can be a painful process and make you feel so many overwhelming emotions, but just remember: now may not be your time and that’s okay, you can always try again later when you are ready.