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What to Do if You End Up Hating Your Postgraduate Course

If things are quite what you expected, don’t panic...


You’ve spent months looking forward to starting your postgrad course, read all the relevant books over the summer, and annoyed all your friends by constantly banging on about how great it’s going to be. But then, when you do eventually start, the course isn’t what you were expecting.

So what do you do if you end up hating your postgrad course?

Give it time

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First of all, don’t make any rash decisions in your first week of studying. Remember how hard your first week of university was? You’re experiencing that all over again but with more work and less partying, so it’s understandably daunting and you won’t necessarily adjust straight away.

Try and give your course at least a fortnight before you make any decisions – that way you’ll have attended enough lectures, met enough tutors and got a proper idea of the course before you completely dismiss it.

Figure out what you dislike about it

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So you’ve given it some time and you’re still not enjoying it? Then it’s time to figure out why you actually dislike the course. Figuring out the reason why you’re not enjoying things will make the next course of action clearer.

Former Cardiff postgrad Ffion Andrews agrees that you need to nail down what you’re not happy with. “Is it the people, the lecturer or the subject?” she asks. “Think about where you want to be in 5 years’ time. If the best route there is through your course, then stick at it and try to change the things you can control.”

Talk to your tutor

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“Don't be afraid to confide in people,” Ffion adds. “You won't be the only one feeling that way.” She’s absolutely right.

Talking to lecturers – or your tutor in particular – is important if you’re struggling with the course. They’ll be able to help you on a one-to-one basis so you won’t feel so overwhelmed, and they may be able to suggest ways to make things easier – whether that’s extra lessons with them, certain books to read or just some comforting words so you don’t feel so stressed or unhappy anymore. Remember, lecturers aren’t just there to teach you, they’re there to help you, especially now you’re a postgrad.

Try and swap

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So you’ve figured out the issue and your lecturer couldn’t help – now might be the time to see if you can swap courses. It’s worth noting that some unis will put a time limit on when you can swap or set certain conditions that you need to meet in order to join a new course, so make sure you find out about any deadlines early on so you don’t leave things too late.

Again it’s important to talk to your tutors. Not just to check if there’s enough room for you, but also to ensure your new choice of course is suitable for you, and that you’ll be able to make the deadlines and handle the workload.

Postgraduate student Andy Foster managed to swap courses and says it’s the best decision he ever made. “I realised quite early on that my postgraduate course just wasn’t for me,” he says. “It wasn’t as relevant to my career as I thought it was going to be and I needed to do something else. I had to defer my place, but it was definitely worth it. I ended up on a course that I loved and it helped me get my dream job whereas I don’t think the other course would have.”

If you want to swap courses, it’s worth being prepared for the possibility that you may have to defer your course for another year, just like Andy did. But don’t get too upset about this – it’s better to take a year out (and maybe have the chance to raise funds while you’re doing it) – than continue on a course that doesn’t make you happy or won’t do anything for your career.


- 10 Key Questions to Help You Decide Which Postgraduate Course to Do

- The Advantages of Taking a Year Out Before Your Postgrad


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