As I write this post, A level results day is this week here in the UK. As such, I thought it would be a good time to launch my first mini series here on my blog, all about my experience at university.
I have split it all up into three, digestible posts, finding a university, the time on my course and the story of my graduation. I have also listed three of my top tips at the end of each piece.
Thinking About the Future
Back in 2012, I was preparing to leave college and lots of people were starting to think about the future. For many people, myself included, the future contained some version of university so I, like so many other people, had started the application process.
Over the years, I had endless aspirations in my life. My desires lingered from being a pilot to a dancer, to forensic pathologist, to restaurant owner, to even an architect. It was crunch time. I had to apply to do something at university, applying myself to follow just one of these winding roads.
I am from a media communications – graphic design – English language background. I researched briefly (too briefly) into some courses that were loosely associated with that I was studying and vaguely linked to what I saw myself doing in the future.
I traipsed to my fair share of obligatory interviews at universities including Central Saint Martins in London, Sunderland, Northumbria and Heriot Watt in Edinburgh. I secured an array of provisional offers. But something wasn’t right. I had spent my whole life writing and being creative with media. None of the courses I had lined up seemed capable of being that, let’s say, ‘academically challenging’.
Reassessing What I Wanted
I re-assessed my life. Ultimately decided to take a year off to think about what I wanted to do. I went on a self-imposed, mini gap year to get my proverbial sh*t together, only I didn’t end up going to India to wash elephants on a voyage of discovery.
Instead, I travelled a little bit, built a social media following and found some amazing friends along the way. I thought long and hard about my options. I wanted to be creative, but still be credible. At the same time, I didn’t want to do something that was so stiflingly stuffy with ‘credibility’, I’d be bored rigid for three years.
In 2013, I started the application process again. This time, I was able to make a much more informed decision. I had spent the best part of 8 months researching courses all over the world to get a better of idea of what I may like to do. When I was studying full time in college, that was something I simply didn’t have the time to do.
The second time around, my picks were a range of fashion and media based courses at universities including Solent in Southampton, Lincoln, Glasgow Caledonian, University College London and the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey.
The Course I Picked
During my year off, I worked hard to gear my portfolio more towards what I wanted to do – which was write. With that, combined with my A level results from the year before, I secured a range of offers across the UK, eventually settling on the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey to study Fashion Journalism.
I had applied to do this course the year before at a university closer to my home in the North, but London was calling. In September 2013 I packed my life into three suitcases and headed south. I moved myself into halls of residence and began my University Experience.
My Top Tips for Picking a University
- Spend as much time as possible doing your research. Universities are complicated and expensive places. It is never too early to start your research. This way, you can collect some options.
- Apply for a range of courses. Unless you know that you specifically want only one thing, applying for an array of courses lets you see how much each course can vary from university to university. This way, you can see exactly what you will get from each option.
- Go to open days. This is something I did not do until 2018, when I toyed with the idea of completing a Masters. It was not practical for me to attend open days when I was originally applying, but if you can, then absolutely go. You get a lot of information as well as a feel for your potential home for the next few years.