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Unhappy In Education? 6 Tips To Help You Make The Right Decision For Yourself

8th Apr 2021

You're over halfway into your new school year or college course. You've bought the textbooks you need, got to know your teachers, and have friends studying the same lessons as you. Maybe you've even written your first few essays or completed your first big project. And it's dawned on you that you've made a decision you're not happy with. Perhaps you've chosen the wrong subject; perhaps the wrong place to study. Either way, you've committed, and you are now aware this is not what you want to do. The only option is to panic – right?

Wrong – thankfully. This situation is one that lots of young people find themselves in every year. But before you let panic set in and make any big changes, there are a few things you should consider first to help you make the best decision for yourself.

1.     Make sure you're in the right frame of mind

It can be easy to make quick, poor decisions when you're in a negative or panicked frame of mind, especially when you're feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed, or lost. When it comes to life-changing decisions, try to make sure you're feeling comfortable and at ease before you decide what your next move is going be. Before making the decision, ask yourself the following questions:

o   How long have I been thinking about this? Usually the longer you've been thinking about it, the more important it tends to be, rather than based on a temporary emotion that can be fixed, such as feeling overwhelmed with your current workload, or that you haven't connected with anyone on your course yet.

o   How committed am I to making a change? Rate your level of commitment you'll need on a scale out of 10. Think about the amount of work, effort, and time you'd have to put in to working out your next step. Is your level of commitment higher than a 7? If so, that's a great motivational start to making a change.

o   When you think about making a change, how do you feel? Picture yourself and your life in a few months' time – how does it feel? Excitement, relief, mixed in with a little nervousness are very positive emotions.

Thinking these factors through will help you to slow down and open your views before you make any rash decisions.

2.     Be aware of what you want

The best way to make a decision is by knowing what your interests and goals are. When you're more aware of what you want out of your life, you may be able to make better choices. What do you enjoy doing? What are your strengths? This could be things like subjects or training you've completed, skills you've taught yourself, or extracurricular activities you are involved with. It can also be helpful to reflect on any experience you have had, including employment, volunteering placements, or work experience. It's important to consider what is important to you in a job and any goals you have in your life. If you are having trouble thinking about what makes you tick, you could try an online self-assessment tool such as The Buzz Quiz or Prospects.

3.     Ask for advice

If you find that your interests and what you are aiming for in life are not matching up to the subjects or course you have chosen, then find out more about the subjects, course, or option you are considering as an alternative.

Talk to tutors or teachers about your ideas and attend a virtual or in-person open event (check the relevant educational institution website for dates). Find out about the content of the course, assessment styles and where the course could lead, in comparison to where your current subjects or course will lead you. Talk to your parents/carers, teachers and Careers Adviser about what you are considering. If you have an interest in a certain job, then try and speak to employers or anyone else you know who is doing that job to find out more about it.

Ansbury Guidance have a team of professional Career Advisers who can help you to explore your options and find new opportunities.  

4.     Research your options

What are the options you have? Write them down — the possibilities might surprise you! Perhaps you could apply to another school or college? Transfer course or change subject within your current place of study? Alternative options to consider are Apprenticeships, School Leave Programmes, Online Education, Full/Part Time Employment, Gap Year, Volunteering or Long-Term Work Experience Placement, before stepping into your next position.

Researching your career ideas, as well as options, is a great way to help you make informed choices. There are lots of great websites where you can research careers and education options. If you have a specific career idea in mind then find out about the entry requirements, skills required and responsibilities of the job. Also researching local Labour Market Information can be a helpful way to find out what industries are in your local area and the demand for different jobs. Useful websites include National Careers Service, Career Pilot and Prospects. Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership has a list of the top industries available to find work in across Dorset.

5.     Gain Experience

Gaining experience allows you to try out different jobs and tasks, and test whether the career you are aiming for is really something you wish to pursue. This can be through paid work or unpaid work experience or volunteering. You could ask local companies if you can gain some experience or a shadow day or contact your local volunteering centre. If you cannot get ‘real life’ experience right now, then look into any virtual work experience options, such as through Ansbury Guidance's Inspiring Futures project, Barclays Life Skills, The Forage, or Speakers For Schools.

6.     Still unsure?   

If you are still unsure about what decision to make you could try some activities to help you decide. For example, make a list of the ideas you have, or draw a mind map. You could also rank your ideas in the order of the one that interests you most, or you could write a pros and cons list of each idea you are considering. Another technique is to write each option on a piece of paper, fold them up and put them in a hat or bowl. Shut your eyes and pick one. If you had to do that option you picked out, how does that make you feel? Do you feel happy that you picked that choice, or do you feel disappointed?


We understand that decision making and change can feel scary. We often pile pressure on ourselves to make perfect life decisions but making a big decision doesn’t have to be so daunting. There are no right or wrong answers or right or wrong ways to live your life – young people and adults often move between careers through their lifetime and some re-train later in life. If you’d like support in figuring out your options, looking into new training or employment opportunities, or gaining virtual or in-person work experience placements to help you see the realities of a certain career before you make any big decisions, then please don't hesitate to contact us.