Thinking about switching degrees? Here’s everything you need to know

9th November 2022
Woman In Yellow Jacket Holding Books

If you’re in your first year of uni and your chosen course isn’t what you expected, the good news is that it’s possible to switch degrees – but it isn’t a straightforward process. In our latest blog, we give you the full low-down...

So, you’ve had a wonderful Freshers’ fortnight – you’ve already made some friends for life, you’ve joined more societies that you could keep track of, and you’ve donned some questionable fancy dress on a night out (or three). But since the initial buzz of the first few weeks has settled and you’ve got into the groove of lectures and seminars, you’ve realised your course isn’t for you. What happens now?

Before you start packing your bags, don’t panic – changing course can be done, but it’s dependent on a few factors, including your university’s individual rules, course availability, your commitment to the new course and your academic performance.

Bear in mind that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan for switching degrees, and some unis have cut-off dates for changing, so it’s important to address any doubts you’re having as soon as possible.

Please note the following tips are for swapping within your current uni.


Assess all of your options

Changing your degree is a big decision, so it’s important to make sure that the new direction is right for you, your well-being and your future goals.

Firstly, ask yourself: Is it definitely the course that’s the wrong fit?

A person sits behind a stack of books

Degrees are a different ball-game to A-Levels, and starting your undergraduate course can be overwhelming. If there's a specific part of the course you’re struggling with, it’s worth asking for support. Your tutor and lecturers want you to thrive at uni and will be your first port of call for any worries you have. It might be a case of asking for more academic support or changing a specific module.

Or perhaps, our introduction to this blog about loving Freshers’ Fortnight didn’t ring true. If you’re feeling homesick, not getting on well with housemates, or finding it hard to adjust to uni life, it might be clouding your view of the course.

It’s important to know when to ask for help. Speak with the dedicated student support team at your university or accommodation provider

Here at Sanctuary Students, we want to help you enjoy the best university experience possible while living a happy and healthy life. Find out more about our well-being services


Making moves

If you’ve considered all of the above, and have come to the conclusion that, yes, you really want to transfer course, the good news is that it is possible – but there’s a few hoops to jump through first.

Three young people sit on steps and talk with each other.

Firstly, make sure you’ve researched the course you want to move on to, so you know it’s something you’re interested in studying for the next few years. If any of your housemates or sports team friends are on the course, ask them about the various modules and how they find the course in general. What are their career plans after uni – do they match your own?

Next up, talk to your course tutor, who can help you initiate the transfer with the university’s admissions team. You’ll also need to make sure you meet the entry requirements for the new course, and may need to write a new personal statement.

When speaking to your new department, you'll have to show you’re seriously committed to the new course. Prepare just as you did for your first interview and be ready for questions about why the course appeals to you and why it aligns with your future plans. Be proactive and show how you plan to catch up on missed weeks.

If the new course admissions team is happy to accept you during your first year, they’ll set the plans in motion and soon you’ll be embarking on your new degree!


Finding the path that’s right for you

As we’ve seen, changing your degree in your first year can be a complicated but rewarding process – after all, it’s better to be doing what you enjoy, right?

University is an incredible experience, and by finding a degree you're passionate about, you’ll set yourself on an exciting path to your future career – or perhaps more higher education!


We’re here for you

If you’re struggling to settle into your course or uni life in general, it’s important to know when to ask for help.

Don’t suffer in silence. There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including our Student Advice Line from our partners at Health Assured. At Sanctuary Students, your health is our priority and that’s why we offer professional support to help with any problems you may face, from stress and depression to financial issues and coping. The phone line is open day and night, 365 days a year, and everything you discuss is kept confidential, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Call the freephone number on 0800 030 5182 – we’re here as often as you need us, for as long as you like. Learn more about Sanctuary Students well-being services.