Sunday, 27 August 2017

TOP 10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING UNIVERSITY

It's been three years since I graduated from University and although I've not gone down the path I quite hoped for, I learnt quite a lot in my time there. I wanted to share with you all my best tips and tricks and what you can do to help yourself along the way to reach your end goals. Now you will learn that I put an extreme amount of effort into my course and spent 9/10 of my time there so I learnt quite a few things along the way. 

Now I picked a course that I was interested by, but not necessarily what I wanted to do. I would call myself a textile artist, but I ended up doing surface pattern design which leads me to telling you my first point. 

Research your course. 
I mean we can all look at the prospectuses and think oh that sounds nice, but maybe when you're on those glorious open days looking a bit feeble, ask the students what the course really entails and if it meets your expectations. No one will shout at you for asking or getting it 'wrong'. We're there to help make sure it's the right choice for you. I didn't do the right one for what I wanted to do in the future which was my downfall. I picked something I knew I'd enjoy which I can't argue with, but it didn't help me in the end. 

Research extra funding. 
Unless you've got a rich Uncle Bob who swannies off to the Caribbean every month then by no doubt you're not going to be rolling around in the dosh. University is expensive especially if you're doing a full time course. Working part time or full time along side helps but it's very draining. A lot of university's have their own special bursary's for students. My university had a bursary for those on low income. There was bursary's for my particular course to help with supplies. And then I found out in the third year there was extra bursary's for those in the final year to help them so they can focus on their course. Ask about what extra funding they have available for your particular courses. 

Look at interning during your course. 
Right this is a tricky subject. Interning is normally unpaid and nine times out of ten they're all in London and no where near all the hundreds of universitys all over the country. So you could either strike lucky and get an internship near you or you could go down the hard route. A lot of the girls on my course interned during the 'summer holidays' in London and stayed at each others long lost relatives during the time. It really does shine on your CV when you go to apply to jobs after leaving university. I'd recommend trying it in your first year or second year when the pressure isn't as bad. Yep, I know this is a scary thought and sudden but believe me, I've regretted it since. 

Don't blow all your money at once. 
As soon as you start university you'll start blowing money, I'm sorry but it happens. If it's not on food and drink, it's being sociable, things for your course you didn't have and trying to keep on top of bills. I know you might think 'I'll treat myself to those Topshop boots I've been dying for' but wait until student nights are on and you get discount, because believe me, library credit takes a chunk out of those grants. Try and save money by buying beer in and drink some before going out with friends, make it a £10 challenge when you go out. My tip is loads of instant noodles and a bottle of Sriracha, fake it til you make it chilli ramen! 

Your first year marks count. 
This is something I was incredibly naive about. I was always told "oh well first year doesn't really count and doesn't matter!". If I didn't have that mindset in the beginning then I might've actually got a bit further and got that costly 3% to get that dream First. It does matter. However, what I think matters more than the points you accumulate is your mindset. If you push yourself from the beginning then you're more likely to succeed and push yourself to better yourself throughout your time there. 

Top up your library credit in your first week.
Unless you've gone to a lovey university where you get free credit (OMG life dreams!!) then top up your card in the beginning. I had to do a heck of a lot of photo copying and printing during my course but not only because of the artistic side of things. Printing out copies of your work, photocopying books and forever printing off Harvard referencing guides. It soon goes so it's better to have it there. than suffer. 

Get to know the staff.
I was super lucky in my university because we had the same security throughout the three years I was at my course. Myself and a lot of girls on my course were the first ones on campus and we were there until they kicked us out. We got to talk to them a lot, friendly, even shared our Tuesday Dominoes pizza with them when we over ordered. Hey, we were allowed one treat a week right?! But what happened because of this, they trusted us. We always made sure everything was clean and tidy and because they always started super early, and left super late it made it great for us in third year. We often got to let ourselves into the computer suite (it's all open spaces) and the studio. In the final few weeks they let us leave at midnight even though the latest was 9. That's when we would all venture into the library and prepare for long nights. It was a bit more homely and a better vibe to concentrate in. So a bit of friendliness and kindness with the staff often shows that respect goes both ways. 

Work on those dissertations early. 
I'm no saint when it comes to dissertations. They're not my friends. Wouldn't wish it on my arch nemesis. My advice is start researching early. When you've thought of a topic go to the library and search about how much research you can pull to do with the topic. See how comfortable you feel with it as it often changes. I started mine the second week of my third year. I tried a couple of topics but the one I settled for, was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My tutor didn't agree with it, I often exchanged notes with her  and asked for her council. She told me to pick something else. I stuck to it and I kept pushing it and well it was just worth it to prove to her that I could actually do it. I came out with a B. And the tutor who I thought hated me all along? She sensed I needed that from her to push myself. Crazy but it worked. Your tutors are there to help you. 

Jumping onto extra sessions. 
Your time at university is precious. Three years seems an awful long time but believe me it flies by! If a teacher is offering to teach a lesson about something you're not already doing for example, a trip out, new techniques or even sharing some of their work then do it. You really have nothing to lose. By using that hour you'll learn something new and get the most out of your course. IF you're worried about work then take some with you to and from. Sounds silly but I got to learn quite a few new things that I put into practise in my final project. 

Laptops are your new best friend.
This seems a bit silly doesn't it? I mean in a University full of computers you wouldn't think you would need a laptop would you? Well maybe yes. The amount of times I couldn't get on a computer especially when assigments are due for everyone it made things increasingly difficult. I used my laptop to and from university when I was travelling, in the studio, during presentations. It became my lifeline. I bought a laptop with my grant that cost short of £400. That laptop still works 6 years later down the line. It just became a lifeline and for the times I needed my work to be in one place it just made sense. 

Bonus extras.
If you're on a course where you have a working studio e.g Arts/textiles/graphics. then I must advise you to ask about getting a safe area where you can buy a kettle to use. This saved up not only money from buying crappy cups of tea or coffee from the canteen but also the time. When you're in a working studio it's so easy to get stuck into work and get a good rhythm and taking time out of that I personally found hard to concentrate again. It was also good for doubling up and filling up pot noodles and cup a soups to get through the day. Check with your tutors if it's possible for you to have an area to have a kettle. This is a no go for rooms full of computers with regulations. 

And there you have it. My eleven top tips and tricks of things I wish I knew before starting university. There is so much on offer like extra curricular activities and groups going on but these are what I favoured most. Without all of this, and the people around me I don't think I would've made it past 1st year. 

Is there anything you wish you knew before starting university? Let me know below! 

Until next time, 






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