Today I saw alot of happy statuses, tweets, blog posts and screen shots of acceptance UCAS emails, the same thing I posted a year ago today. I remember biting my nails right down and losing sleep over the results I recieved, to realise it’s not the end of the world if I did get terrible results, I tried my hardest and thankfully I was more than over the moon with my own. I felt proud of myself for the first time, to complete something and advance to a new chapter of my life. This is a subject I’ve wanted to touch upon since May finishing my first year in Chester.
Univeristy is a very personal choice. I know so many people that signed up for all the wrong reasons, you invest in your knowledge and not the certificate and hat throwing ceremony at the end or the drinking and relationships. I’m going to walk you through my experiences this year and what I expected and didn’t.
Luckily I was never faced with the gruelling challenge of having to live on my own, but this year was a very independent year for me, I sat down with my parents, the two people who have cotton wooled me my entire life and talked about my lack of independence and how I’ll never learn to live if I’m not set goals. I knew how to look after myself and even cook better meals than some restaurants (a rarity amongst students) but aspects of life such as looking after finances, bargaining for deals, learning how to pay bills and fill out forms are generally not taught in mainstream education when becoming an all round adult, now I look at these things like I was born with the knowledge, but unfortunately there is a time we must learn and grow into the people we shape ourselves to be.
It’s tough because at such a young age, everything is expected of us, we’re told that in such a short space of time we are supposed to find ourselves and choose what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Amongst battling hormones, friendships, relationships and more, being a teenager was the most stressing experience of my life, and whilst I met the most amazing people I knew at some point I would have to sacrifice those friendships to find some time for me to grow up a little.
I must point out by no stretch is university the measurement of success, some of the most successful people in the world didn’t have qualifications and although some fields have requirements to which a Degree, Masters or even PhD is compulsory, I believe knowledge and experience battles over what college or university you went to, they merely shorten the hurdles to success.
I couldn’t help but think that there are some people who choose not to go to university, that do not require it, why do we only reward the majority who do go as the ‘successful’ people, about 3/4th’s of my class dropped out, leaving few to proceed to the next year, of which I know a few of my class mates have not made it through. University is tough… there is no dancing round that point. In college it was believed that it you didn’t take the classes on writing an application for university you were to lead a poorly educated life. I disagree with the alienation treatment from classmates, as we all choose our own paths, and not those to suit the education system or impress our parents.
I always knew investing in knowledge was the thing for me, my dream job I wished to pursue did need refinement of my own taught skills, and I saw university as an opportunity to showcase the things I love , more than the end result. I decided on Photography and Graphic Design, two things I was self taught by and knew I had a future in. I lived every day like it was last, taking every opportunity as an artist to get my work out there. I can speak only for my own, but university seemed more of a competitive atmosphere than college and more anti-social than I thought it was going to be, more animalistic than friendly, as everyone adopted the attitude of ‘every man for him/herself’. For me it was very lonely year, I made few friends, but for the first time I didn’t mind that, I was to invest great sums of money into me and not waste precious seconds on not learning.
The best people I found were the teachers, more social and knowledgeable creatures, the one piece of advice I want anyone to take from this blog post is to network every last contact out your tutors, these people know the best in business and could be your potential future clients, you want to impress them as much as you can. I went to the University of Chester, a place where the creative arts campus was a very long walk away from any other subjects, this worked to my benefit, as someone that hates distraction the creative vibes that glowed from that building made it a very warming place to work amongst music, drama and fine art students. I got my head down and worked my absolute arse off. I even managed to grab contacts and get my work in the local gallery, something I dreamed about since I was little. My hard work paid off, I got the same feeling I had a year ago today getting my A-Level Results. I passed with flying colours. Major Sigh.
Be wise with your money, invest in equipment, my mum and dad had bought me everything I had and one small goal I agreed on was I was to buy my own equipment and invest in my future. Every lens cap, camera filter and soft box light was one step closer to my independence. I only learnt how to save my money in the last few months and wish it was something I started from the beginning. My tuiton fee was £7000 after a £2000 reduction on a scholarship. Apply your current knowledge to work out how long it is going to take you in a job of your choice to work that off. As much as I wanted to move to London and go to St Martins College of Art I knew I would be practically homeless and broke by my first year, university isn’t free, and especially not in London.
During my time off before my second year, I realised I needed to network, refine my choices, something I like to do once in a while to help step up my game and think what weaknesses can I improve on. This blog was one of them, it made me so much more confident, something I’ve always struggled with. I feel now I could walk in to a presentation in front of many people and talk passionately about a subject. (Something I chickened out of last year and had a crazy panic attack over)
If you’re choosing what you want to do with your life, take a year or two to really think over the decisions you make. Would it make you happy? Do you want to become more independent? Can you handle the expenses that come when going to University?
Network with everyone you can, and be happy to everyone – you never know who you’re going to meet.
Learn a little about the place you’re staying in – it doesn’t kill to know a little culture
Read some books on money management
Have at least 10 healthy recipes you can cook off my heart
Don’t go out drinking every night
Learn when to rest and stop procrastination
Make at least one friend you can stick by through everything
Don’t let other put you down for your personal decisions – you are not a failure
Make a creative CV to stand out from the crowd
Take up internships in various departments of a company
Start a blog – you never know where it will take you
Stay passionate and true to what you believe
Put yourself on various job sites, and create a LinkedIn account
I hope this has at least helped a few souls unsure where to go, good luck to those starting soon, it’s not the easy option, and responsibilities will head in your direction but if you can come out knowing you’ve learnt something good if was worth your tuition fee
What are you deciding to do this year?