Choosing a University is one of the biggest decisions you'll have to make at this time of your life and honestly, it could effect a lot of your future too. I've been through it all which was why I felt like this post was so relevant and honestly, I'd have loved to have read something like this from a more relatable point of view when I was going through it, which I hope will be the case.
When I was at college and doing my A Levels (I did Art, Photography and Film Studies alongside a BNA in Media Studies) I knew I wanted to go to University, it was the most natural form of progression, and I just assumed I would do Art as I had always done it, loved it, and I suppose been a little bit good at it. It was just the idea of what I would do after University that confused me a little. What would I actually do with that Art degree that I had always assumed I would go and do? With this confusion, I went on to do a Foundation in Art and Design at my college, though some people choose to do this at a University which actually is a great idea as it gives you a feel for University without having the 3+ years timeline, a university taster year if you will.
Doing the Foundation it gave me time to think a little more about what I liked doing, what I was good at and what I saw more potential with for jobs in the future. My love for Photography was growing at this point and I ended up deciding that I would go down that route. Onto the difficult bit, which University? And the main point for this whole post. You hear a lot about University rankings, and as great as that actually is, it's not the be all and end all. If you're not in a University that is suited to you then and you end up hating it and potentially dropping out, then the University rankings really made no difference in the end. My college tutors really emphasised this to me when I was choosing my University. They wanted to make sure that you were in one that you were happy with, while still reaching your full potential too. University ranking and happiness, I suppose work on a very similar level of importance in that respect. I spent so long deciding which University was right for me. Countless trips up, down and around the country to check out the Uni and courses at open days and honestly, I found this to be the best way. Sometimes you'll go to one and fall in love and others you will just know it's not right for you. It's all about the feel of the place and you can't feel that without visiting and by looking at your computer screen or at a brochure. That's in the end how I made my decision about where I wanted to go, that instant feeling of falling in love and the amazing location was just a bonus. I go to the University of Westminster and study the BA (Hons) in Photographic Arts and I'll leave my experience and all that jazz for another post or video. Just think a lot about the location and what you're going to study. If you're a photography student heading to a small town, it's likely you'll run out of things to photograph pretty quickly. Add this thought into the mix too...
Once at University though, it's a great idea to get involved in as many things as you can do. St Mary's University* have launched a campaign titled 'Be Part Of It', asking current and former students why they wanted to 'Be Part Of It' to help the newbies like you currently choosing your University. These videos show how important it is to have a proper look at a Uni, chat to students who are there and see the University yourself. Just like how I did.
University is a time of you're life that you'll never be able to get back again. So make the most of it, you're spending enough so you want to make the right decision, but you know, don't sweat it if you don't. Again it's not the be all and end all, there are things you can do. Much like with picking a course, I don't now want to be a Photographer (but again I'll leave all that to another post another day) but a lot of jobs nowadays just like to see that you have a degree, so focus on getting yourself a 2:1 and it won't be a waste of your time and money. Trust me!
How are you getting on with choosing your University? Let me know where your currently thinking of heading!
*This post was written in collaboration with St. Mary's University, but as always all views are my own!