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Guidance for Students thinking of leaving or changing their Course

Thinking of Leaving or Changing Course

Thinking of Leaving or Changing Course

There may be a variety of reasons why you may be thinking of leaving or changing your course – some of the most common are often:

  • Homesickness or loneliness
  • A sense of having chosen the wrong course or the wrong university
  • Fear of failing
  • Stress and anxiety
  • External factors e.g. debt, family problems
  • Not enjoying academic study
  • Lower than expected exam results.

Don’t worry you are not on your own and there is a lot of support at the University to help you work through this difficult decision to help you try to come to a solution that will work best for you. The best thing you can do is to read through this information and talk to as many people as you can to help you make an informed decision about the various options ahead of you.

At the Career Zone we offer confidential and impartial advice so a good first step can be to book a 1-1 Guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant to talk through your situation. You can book via live chat on our website, phone (+44(0)1392 724493) or in person at a Career Zone. Click here for full contact details.

Further help within the University

It’s important to read all the information on the Student Support website about changing a course or university, interruption and withdrawal, including key information on the financial implications. This section will also link you to important additional support services such as the Guild/Students Union, Wellbeing teams, Accommodation, Finance team etc.

General Advice

So what are your options?

  • Transferring to a different course at the University of Exeter – there are time scales involved in this so it is important to check with the course you wish to transfer to if this is possible and if they have space. You can contact the Admissions office. You will also need to discuss this with your current course.
  • Changing to Flexible Combined Honours (FCH) at the University of Exeter – this may allow you to adapt your course to something more suitable for your needs and interest without having to change course completely. FCH allows you to choose modules from certain courses to compliment your study. Not all modules will be available like this but more information can be found at: Flexible Combined Honours.
  • Researching job options with different degrees – you may wish to explore where a different degree could take you career wise What can I do with my degree?

Again there are time scales involved in this so it is important to check with the course and the University you wish to transfer to if this is possible and if they have space.

If you have decided that University just really isn’t for you or perhaps you’d like to explore what alternatives there are then the section below highlights some useful resources to look into.

Apprenticeships / School Leaver programmes

School leaver programmes are worth considering if you’re thinking about a career in the following industries: Banking, finance, accountancy, engineering, retail, Marketing and PR, Property and construction and Defence. They are like an Apprenticeship in that they allow you to work full-time and possibly complete a sponsored degree programme.

Apprenticeships are a great way to train on the job and gain qualifications with a partner university or college while getting paid. You can apply for degree apprenticeships at level 6 (bachelors) and level 7 (masters). They exist in many sectors including ones that are traditionally difficult to get into such as engineering & IT.  Information can be found:

These are some finance and general school leaver schemes (it is not an exhaustive list so there may well be others out there worth looking into):

Get a Job/explore training opportunities: (full-time or part-time) You could look for work - check local press, job centre and any places you might be interested in for vacancies.  If you're not sure what you want to do, it is worth looking at various websites and resources to generate ideas:

Sometimes it may just be that you need some time out to decide what might be the next best step for you. There is potentially the option to interrupt your studies which you will need to discuss with the University and further information on this can be found here.

How you choose to use this time is up to you. Some people decide to work, volunteer, go travelling, work on building certain skills etc. Below are some links that may be useful, you may also wish to refer back to the ‘Alternatives to University’ section.


Don’t assume employers will view whatever choice you make negatively. Employers will respond to your situation based on the information they have available. It is therefore sensible to present your change of course in a positive way. How you do this will depend on your own circumstances, but you could show an understanding of self-awareness, responsibility, research skills and decision-making ability in presenting how you took this choice.

It is important to think about how you present a change of direction on your CV. Employers will often spot gaps in education or employment, so it is usually wise to account for that time. Use dates to clarify when you were studying at a specific institution. Highlight the skills you acquired or the relevant knowledge you developed as part of any course or module you studied. It can be positive to demonstrate that you can recognise a dilemma, weigh up your options and take a decision.

Describing your reasons for changing or leaving a course may be more appropriate for a covering letter than a CV. Aim to present your decision in a positive way, perhaps highlighting your decision-making and research skills, as well as your self-awareness.

Take a closer look at our page on Help with CVs, Cover Letters, and Applications

If you’d like to chat further about how to present this positively to an employer or to discuss your options around changing your course, you may find it useful to speak to an Employability & Careers Consultant.