Life Decisions

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Halo, Apr 24, 2015.

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  1. 'Kay, so it's not often I ask for advice, but I'm in somewhat of a bind over this and thought I may as well get some opinions from you lovely lot. This is gonna be a bit long-winded, but there's a lot of relevant information I've got to explain, so bear with me.

    As some of you know, I'm currently studying at Imperial College London. QS ranked it the 2nd top uni in the world this year, on par with Cambridge and MIT. You'd think this would be a good thing.

    Unfortunately, not so much. See, as a Scottish student I could have gone to any Scottish uni for free. Going to university in England (e.g. Imperial) costs £9000 (~$13.5k) a year. Additionally, Imperial is in one of the most expensive residential areas in the world - Kensington, London. Financially, achieving this was going to be a huge fucking issue, but I calculated it would be just about possible if I worked summers and during term time from 2nd year onwards.

    At the time of deciding which offers to accept, I really wanted to go into research. Going to the best university possible was a logical choice, as it would give me a massive edge when applying for PhD positions. So despite the fact that it would put me £60k (~$90k) in debt to the government and result in a pretty shitty, frugal quality of life, I decided to go to Imperial. It also relied on me succeeding in applying for living in halls every year - if I ever failed to earn a place as a Warden, I'd be screwed because rent is so stupidly high in the area.
    It also meant moving away from my family and friends, almost all of whom were going to uni together in Glasgow or were staying in Edinburgh, where I live.

    Now, when you're 18 and have never lived independently, you don't really have an understanding of just how goddamn much £60k is. You've just never dealt with that sort of money before. And you don't really understand how much a lack of money can affect quality of life when you've never had to pay for daily essentials like food, rent, etc. And to be honest, you don't know how much it sucks to be separated from everyone you know and love. Imperial is famously, notoriously crap for social life - to be frank, it's full of antisocial-as-fuck geeks who're too afraid to even chat to you in the corridor. Out of my core group of six friends, I'm the only one who's even been clubbing or to a bar this year.
    This combination has, quite frankly, led to me being pretty fucking miserable - I'm extremely sociable, and the environment at Imperial is mostly conducive to extreme antisocialness (and even if that weren't the case, I can't afford to do anything anyway.) It's not just me who feels this way - the anonymous confessions page for the uni is chock-full of people who are utterly miserable and hate the environment here.

    If I still wanted to go into research, I would probably be able to stomach a horrible uni experience for the sake of the later benefit. Thing is, I don't. After a year of my course, I would much rather go into other fields (finance, economics, industry, etc.) Although Imperial still gives me an edge in job prospects in these fields, it's nowhere near as drastic. The entire reason for sacrificing financial stability, my family and friends, everything, is now basically irrelevant. It's a bit soul-crushing, and honestly, I've spent the past 3 months sleeping all the time so I don't think about it and get caught up in self-pitying misery. Of course, I'm now screwed for my exams having not been to lectures or anything, but that's sorta another story.

    I'm really seriously considering a transfer to Glasgow, if possible. This would likely require dropping out of Imperial and essentially repeating a year at Glasgow. If I do this, my debt will be half of what it would be if I stay at Imperial for the rest of my degree, I'll be much closer to family and friends, in an environment I am significantly better-suited for, and definitely way more financially stable considering how much cheaper it is to live there. In every regard but the purely academic, it's seemingly a sound decision. It was what was recommended to me when I was trying to decide which universities to accept offers from, but being headstrong and proud and whatever, I didn't listen. The edge Imperial gave me was worth it, at the time.

    But I'm... teetering. I mean, I won't pretend part of it isn't pride - I fucking hate the idea that people would think it's because I can't handle the academic difficulty of Imperial, because I can. Coursework-wise I'm sitting at a 1st. If I weren't about to screw up my exams due to lack of effort/struggling to cope emotionally it'd be fine, but I'm gonna come out with shite grades and people will think I'm transferring because of that. And I'm freaking proud that I even got in in the first place, too - I don't wanna give that up.
    But even aside from that, it's undeniable that having such a prestigious uni on my CV is damn significant. It's already helping me make connections, and will unquestionably benefit me in the job market. And if I change my mind about research later... I don't know - I do feel I overestimated how much the uni you go to for your undergrad/masters matters, considering Glasgow is also a very good university. But again, Imperial's name is gold both here and in the States.
    Throwing away an opportunity like this is a major decision. It's a little crazy to even contemplate it.

    There's so many facets to this, some of which I haven't even touched on here, that I just don't know what to do. There doesn't seem to be any "right" decision - the pros and cons are too evenly balanced.

    TL;DR: Uh, I guess I can only sum it up thus: Do I choose happiness and a good academic background, or dig myself into a hole financially (and socially) and hope that the excellent academic background will be worth it later?
     
  2. TRANSFER.

    Killing your spirit and putting yourself in horrible debt (which will just continue to kill your spirit for years and years to come) is a waste of your time and energy.

    You can still get good jobs without the fancy school name to back you up. You just have to be more tenacious when you go hunting.

    And if anyone thinks you are a failure for making an intelligent decision to care for your mental health and future pocket books, they can go climb a wall of dicks. o_o It's not their life and they don't have to live with the consequences.
     
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  3. I agree with Diana. Not only do I fucking hate watching people tear themselves apart and go through a stressful schooling process for a career path they don't even like just because it could land them a career that makes more money, but you've just said that you'll be in a much better financial situation if you transfer. So you don't even have that motivation for sticking with something you hate. The argument for landing a better job is kind of irrelevant when the potential monetary gain is completely cancelled out by the definite monetary loss. There is pretty much literally no reason for you to stay.

    Plus, you don't have to go to an "excellent" college just to get a decent job. I'm sure you can land a good job from going to a college that isn't 100 grade-A stuff if it's still a good college and you're smart about what you do there and what connections you make.

    But uh... yeah, transferring is clearly the better option, both from an emotional/mental health standpoint and a financial one. It would be one thing if you were weighing your happiness against financial stability, but, like you've said, transferring is a better option financially and it will make you happier. There's really no reason to stay, except for maybe pride's sake. And I don't think your pride is all that important anymore with so many things being weighed against it.
     
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  4. I'm pretty sure I advised you earlier to go to the school that had the free tuition back when you were deciding where to go, and while I can't recall the exact school you were accepted to, it was something like in the top 10-15 in the world while Imperial was 2nd. I know you feel like having the prestigious university attached to your degree, employers really care about the skills you know and having a highly rated school anywhere is gold, it doesn't mean it has to be one of the very top for you to get excellent job prospects. Look at it this way; a degree is getting your foot in the door, it's the experience and certification at that job that carries the most weight. You can always move up as your career progresses, and if you're immediately throwing yourself 60,000 pounds in the hole out of the gate is going to be something you're paying back for the rest of your life. Meanwhile, if you transfer and go to a school that's covering basically everything, your costs are going to be much lower and when you go to enter the work force, you'll be immediately making money instead of starting to pay off an obscenely massive loan.

    There's no shame in transferring. It takes a real man to make a considered decision and choice based on reality and his own personal satisfaction rather than what name's attached to a piece of paper at the end of it. Trust me, the name of the school will only carry you so far; being able to demonstrate you are a valuable asset is way more important, and when you're still talking world-class institutions in one of the best educated countries in the world still means you're going to have a prestigious education and a strong foundation. Like the others have said, you're fucking miserable there and I promise you while you're miserable there, your grades will suffer because of the pressure and the lack of life satisfaction you have. You aren't a machine, and you value your social life. let me tell you, I ended up in an excellent career field in one of the highest paying municipalities for my career with only one year of college under my belt. The experience and certification I earned on the job is way more valuable than the college was. I balanced my work and school life with my personal life and I don't look back on my life and feel like I threw away my best and most care free years being a machine, but I would if I threw myself entirely at my education and trying to prove something. You're in some of the best years of your life, and trust me, after you start working and getting away from your social circle, it gets a LOT harder to make friends and everything starts to change; friends drift apart, people have kids, and they move away to pursue careers. I went home for the first time after being gone for 3 years and I barely saw any of my friends in the 2 weeks I was there, life just made it impossible for them to visit and all the social groups I new were broken up. Those really good memories are all I have left of those times, and they'll never be back. It's part of growing up that everyone experiences, and you will too. Point is, a part of what makes college great is being with your friends and enjoying the time you have left with them. Seriously! Make the most of it. You'll be so much happier, and it'll help you educationally, too.

    As for feeling like transferring is "showing people you couldn't make it" at Imperial is a load of bologna; you were good enough to get accepted; nobody's going to look at you wrong for doing the financially and socially wise decision. Your friends and family will just be happy you're home, and you know what? They're the only people whose opinions you should care about. You know who you are; if anyone gives you shit for leaving Imperial, they seriously don't matter and you won't remember them years down the road.

    Trust me, transferring doesn't mean you've fucked yourself for a career. You'll be fine.
     
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  5. I know plenty of folks who've transferred between universities and gone on to do extremely well.

    I also know more than one person who decided to try and stick it out in an academic environment they weren't suited to, and wound up crashing and burning.

    Glasgow University is an excellent university. I know I'm doing my Masters at Edinburgh and am thus academically obligated to make sneery comments about it, but naw: it really is. A number of former tutors of mine, all of them extremely good teachers and historians, have gone on to teach there, and from what I've been told the social life is awesome too. Plus, Glasgow's fucking great for a night out.

    Uni isn't just about the degree you walk out with. It's about growing up and developing as a person in an environment suited to you. It's meeting people, making friends, and learning more about yourself plus making terrible life choices that involve stupid quantities of alcohol.

    I'm not gonna tell you which you should pick. That's a choice you gotta make yourself. But do remember that uni is more than just a degree.
     
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  6. So much this.
     
  7. I'm short on time to read/reply to the whole thing atm, so I'll answer this part now and move back to the full post later on.

    I would suggest happiness.

    Not only can financial holes screw one over for years to come (and snowball the second one graduates), but if you're not happy while in school your stress levels will sky rocket.

    That not only means health concerns, but it means your academic performance will drop as well, and in all honesty you'd probably learn more from a good school while being mentally healthy, than you would being mentally exhausted in a slightly better school.

    -----------------------Fuller Answer-----------------------------

    I still stand by my above suggestion.

    Except now having read the whole thing you've already admitted to the fact that your mental stress are causing your grades to slip. So looking at your current situation (armed with the info provided in this thread).

    1. Your Grades are suffering because of stress.
    2. Your happiness and overall well being is suffering because of stress.
    3. Your dept will continue to climb higher and higher if you stay.

    And then once you factor in Dervish's point on that it's much more your skill in field that matters rather than the school itself (plus Glasgow is still a good school in itself)?

    You are honestly left with just about zero reason to stick it out other than Pride.
    And in this case your Pride is working against you here. It's insisting that you get hurt even more, and eventually that pride will falter and you'll only end up even more hurt than you would have been if you had simply left earlier.

    So yea, armed with the information provided in this thread I would say switching schools and allowing yourself to be happy is the beneficial route no matter what angle you put it under.
     
    #7 Mistake, Apr 26, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
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