My Student Experience

by - 16:47

As now is the time for a lot of college students to be applying to/hearing back from universities, I thought I would reflect on and share my own university experience. My attitude towards uni changed many times throughout my course and I definitely felt like I didn't do enough research before I went but I powered through and now have my own university story to tell! I've interspersed some of my favourite pieces of work that I completed in my last year of uni into this post, so you can get a taste of what I poured all my energy, heart and money into!
 Design 301 Project: Elevation

I studied Architecture at London South Bank University and let's just say that the course quality (and my overall enjoyment of it) was varied. The career path I've chosen will require me to go back to university at least once more so, in a way, I've got a chance to learn from my previous experience!

For a start, I lived at home for the duration of my course and commuted into London but I didn't feel like I was missing out on activities. I kind of wish I had experienced living in halls etc but looking back if I had started that way without having my core people in my life around me I would have dropped out in the first semester of the first year (seriously: the course was that awful!). I saved a lot of money by living at home and I don't think that's something I would have changed if I were to do it again.
Design 302: Section

One thing that's good to get into the habit of is treating your degree as your job. You'll be paying a heap of money to study your chosen subject and you'll need to invest a lot of energy and time into succeeding at it. Of course there will be days when you are definitely not feeling your 9am lecture and it might not be so damaging if you miss the odd one...but balance is key. If you can commit to your course the same way you would a 9-5 job it will be a lot easier to stay focused and motivated. It may seem endless and draining but you'll be paying yourself forward, both for your degree classification and for future work habits in the real world.

Design 303: 3D View (First Iteration)
As I did an art based subject, a great deal of my course was spent having one-to-one sessions with my tutors. Now, this may be unique to these types of degrees, but sometimes tutors for this subject can be a little...unrestrained. They will pretty much tell you exactly what they think of you and your work, which isn't always complimentary. This does take some getting used to but something that's good to teach yourself is to just not take it personally: this is easier said than done but so long as you're doing what they ask you to the best of your ability there should be no reason for you to feel as though you're underachieving, no matter what they say!
Design 303: Partial Section & Elevation

The work of a course itself will be like nothing you've experienced thus far. There are no regular work hours. You will always feel as though you should be doing something. It will make you cry.  It will make you lose sleep. It will test your sanity. These are pretty much all guaranteed things to experience but it's okay! You're not expected to have it all together or know it all...if you did you wouldn't be at university educating yourself. For me, I just had to go with the flow and find a way to motivate myself. Sometimes this meant having endless snacks to entertain me, at other times it meant I needed Friends on repeat in the background to keep me focused. Literally, whatever it takes for you to complete your work to the best of your ability, that's what you do. 
 Design 303: 3D Section

Perhaps the most vital part of your course is your fellow classmates! Being able to find friends who are experiencing all the same things as you is extremely reassuring and you can help each other out and give each other support at critical times. Plus, they're good for celebrating and letting off steam with! Personally, I had one friend that I made on the first day who I couldn't have actually survived the course without. There were other students that I would talk to and share info with but having a close friend made my experience far more enjoyable. At the end of the day, having the support of others who know exactly what you're going through is invaluable, and I learnt so much from my peers.
Design 303: 3D Section

Overall, I found university to be extremely challenging on both a professional and a personal level. If I could do it again I probably wouldn't have gone to university straight after finishing college and I don't know that I would choose to go London South Bank University. But although I found it difficult, confusing and unrewarding at times, I might not be in the place that I'm in now - so I really can't say that I would do it differently!

 The only piece of advice I would give is this: if there are other ways into your chosen subject that don't require you going to university, find them. Degrees are expensive and so many people have them: their uniqueness is diminishing. With my subject and others like law, medicine etc. it would be exceedingly difficult to get into that career without a degree, but there can be other ways of getting into your area of choice without needing to fork out £50,000 to get there.
Design 303: 3D View (Final Iteration)

Ultimately, you are the one that has to do the degree so remember to do  your research, work hard but also remember to reward yourself when you've done well. University is a great way to teach yourself a lot of important life lessons and habits as well as make lifelong friends. Similarly, I know people who are doing extremely well in their career/life in general and have chosen not to go to university; so long as you're happy, it really doesn't matter whether you have a degree or not.
Stay inspired,

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