So, you’ve made it in to medical school and you want out. It’s possible – but you need to know what you’re doing. The first thing you have to remember is that universities are large organisations with long histories, and they didn’t get that way by allowing fee-paying students to walk away without a fight. Universities are also rated (both by government and by applicants) on their ability to retain students. Institutions with high drop-out rates are less likely to attract central fund, or applicants. In a way, you should think of the university/student relationship as predator & prey – you aren’t going to get away without a fight. And this predator is much bigger that you – and much more experienced. This is your first attempt to get away; the university has been here many, many times before.
So what do you do when you’re faced with an opponent bigger, stronger and more experienced than you are? Come on, you know the answer to this! You’ve seen Karate Kid? (The 1984 version with Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi who teaches the Karate Kid karate, not the remake in which Mr Han, played by Jackie Chan, teaches the Karate Kid – kung fu. That’s right, it’s not even the right martial art. Come on, Hollywood, if you’re going to remake a classic, at least do it right! But I digress.) The principle stands, however – you use your opponent’s weight and size against them. And the weight and size of the university lies it its regulations. Now, reading university regulations is a long boring task which only very sad nerdy people do, so I’ve done that and here’s what I’ve learned.
There are four sections of the regulations which are of use to you, and we’ll work through them in sequence: Examination, Fees, Attendance and Behaviour. Let’s start with the most obvious: Examinations.
Everyone knows that if you fail your exams, they throw you out of university. Like all great misconceptions, there’s a grain of truth in this. There are also – from your point of view – two problems. Firstly, exams tend to be at the end of a year – and don’t forget that most universities will also have a resit policy, so you can’t really fail until about August or September of the year after you join. That’s a lot of time to be in a course you don’t like. Secondly, although your course will have criteria for progression to the next year, it doesn’t necessarily follow that if you fail meet them that you’ll be asked to leave. You won’t progress, but that doesn’t mean you have to go. Your university has become rather fond of you (and the fees you attract) so they won’t necessarily want you to leave. They may well offer you the opportunity to take the year again!
So what does that leave us to say of technique 1, examination failure? It’s slow, it’s tedious, it’s expensive and it doesn’t always work. I’ll give it 3 out of a possible 10. There have to be better ways. We’ll look at some in part 3.