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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

Is Higher Education your Higher Calling …

In a shocking twist this post is a sister post to my Top 5 University Essentials post, that post was for the people who were on their way to university. This post however, is for those who haven’t made their decisions quite yet or just don't know what is right for them, well don’t fear because advice Ben is here.

A quick history lesson, I applied to university in 2011 to do Drama, I went to interviews, got all my offers and then I got cold feet. Midway through that year I pulled out of the process. I then set about training and working as a nail technician, and although I enjoyed working with nails and still do, the salon business was not for me. I then worked in retail until I began to feel that my life wasn't going anywhere.

I attended photography and photoshop night classes at my local college and that is where I began to finally see the skills that I had. From that course I then began to investigate university. So my first piece of advice here is too take a long time over your decision, it is not something that you should rush into, and there is certainly no shame in not being able to make your mind up.

Something that might help your decisions are going to the open days, I know they might be dull and kind of the same and also could be a long way away but believe me they are worth it. I went to 5, and at some point nearly all members of my family helped me to do that. Without going to see where you might be for 3 years you simply cannot tell what it will be like. I am a big believer in gut instinct and the vibes that a certain place can give off. I only loved one place, so I focused my efforts on going there.

So now you have picked the places you might like to go, now you have to try and get in. Personal statements are not a huge deal but they are still important. Now I’m sure you’ve heard this all before but you have to try and cram as much about you as possible and to avoid all the clichés that make some personal statements just look like copy and paste jobs. For creative courses and for some highly oversubscribed courses you will need to have an interview. In my case that required a creative portfolio, now as I had left school 2 years prior to this process and had never studied art I had no things that I could place into a portfolio. So I set about creating what I thought these universities would want to see, now just a hint here, I got all 5 of my offers (unconditional) and I believe that some of it may have been down to the originality of the content that I submitted. I think that when you have an opportunity to really show what you can do, don’t just bring your current school/college work. Set your own briefs and create amazing content that you really love, and you will stand out from the competition.

So now maybe you are wandering why I chose to study fashion. Well growing up I had always been drawn to fashion, was an avid watcher of Project Runway, Ugly Betty and of course obsessed over The Devil wears Prada. As I grew up I fell in love with fashion publications such as Vogue, iD, Love and many more. I knew I did not have the skills to design, and I didn't have the head for management or marketing. So I began to look at Fashion Imaging/Promotion courses, the things they offered were styling, photography, editorial, and projects in between. I choose Fashion Promotion and Imaging at UCA Epsom because firstly the course was exactly what I wanted to do, the location of the University, just 30 minutes from London and finally the vibe I got from the open day, I just really loved it.

I will just briefly mention the debt issue right now. If you are worried about the thought of having so much debt, I really would suggest that you don't worry. I will have over £40,000 in debt when I finish my degree, but the way in which you pay it back makes it so easy and not a burden at all. So please don't let that put you off. You do need to consider what money you will have after you have paid for your rent and tuition and really work out from that point if can you afford to live. However, I would not worry about that until you have made a decision about your chosen course.

So a year on and I had my first day of second year yesterday, and I can honestly say that I made the right choice, I love the course, the university and my tutors. I will say that it is very hard work, and if you are under the opinion that studying a degree in fashion that it's an easy option then I'm afraid you have been misled, the open ended-ness of our briefs make the work we produce that much harder. Deadline week will always find me working through the night, but it is so worth it.

The university lifestyle is not for everyone, including me. I am not a party person, don't drink and have a phobia of not being in bed by ten. However, you adapt to the situation and make it work for you. I still made the most amainzg friends I only went out-out twice in the whole year. I genuinely believe that you don't need to live your universality life how it is seen in the mainstream popular media, being a student can be exactly how you want it to be, just make sure that you always feel comfortable with a situation and everything should work its self out !!

In conclusion choosing whether university is right for you is hard, it isn't just a simple yes or no, and you have to make sure it is completely the best and the correct decision for you. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you are happy...

See you later alligator 🐊

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