I get asked a lot by girls I went to school with about how to get into university to study a fashion related subject. We all get told its highly competitive… but is it really though? I’m going to run down my tips into getting into a top fashion university and how to make the best choice for your career.
Where did I start?
Firstly, I didn’t do A-Levels. I tried sixth form and lasted 2 weeks, I hated it. I knew I wasn’t academic (at this time I had no idea I was dyslexic) and that I wanted to work in the fashion industry, but from doing textiles GCSE I knew that I didn’t want to study design. My local college ran a fashion business and marketing BTEC course, which covered styling, buying, visual merchandising, promotion etc which literally sounded right up my street. My school did have a really good sixth form so I felt pressured to go there, plus all my friends were staying on there. But to do what I wanted to do I had to choose 3 creative/coursework based subjects so I went for Textiles, Art and Media. In the back of my head I knew that this still wouldn’t leave me with the skills I needed and at the back of my head I kept thinking about the college course. So 2 weeks in I was sat trying to draw a fish for my art coursework and I just thought ‘I’m not enjoying this.. why am I doing it?’. This is where I first realised that I should actually do what I enjoy, luckily my dad was really supportive and I think he knew the college course was the best choice for me.
So the course I did ran for 2 years and sort of felt like a mini foundation course for fashion business. We covered a variety of topics and then at the end specialised for our FMP (final major project). I decided to do a store design brief for Missguided as if they were going to open their first store, which funnily enough they are now doing.
Alongside studying, this is when I first started out at Topshop. I was just a part time Christmas temp in my local store. It wasn’t exactly challenging I just practised customer service and worked in a fast pace environment. At the time I never would of classed it as experience but looking back now it definitely helped. My godmother is a stylist and I got the opportunity to help her out now and then, it was amazing but I discovered that I didn’t fancy being a stylist. This is why experience is so important, because you get to learn what you like and dislike which makes it slightly easier in choosing a career path. I loved working in retail so I knew that it was something that I’d like to stick with.
How Did I Choose My Course?
Seriously just research it, go to open days and look on Unistats. Unistats is a gov website which publishes the National Student Survey (a big survey that you do at the end of your degree) results, you can compare courses and universities together to see what the students thought. At the end of the day just think about what you enjoy and what’s going to challenge you. I really would focus on the course and not the university, because ‘some’ really do just rely on their reputation.
I applied for 4 universities. I tried to go to as many open days as I could, I fully recommended this as you really get a feel for whats right for you. For example, Manchester sounded great but when I visited it I hated it and couldn’t imagine myself there.
When applying you really doubt yourself and have such a fear of rejection, don’t let it get the better of you. I applied for;
- Northumbria – Fashion Communication
- Nottingham Trent – Fashion Promotion
- Manchester Met – Fashion Promotion
- London College of Fashion (UAL) – Fashion Visual Merchandising & Branding
I knew that I wouldn’t go to Northumbria, I 100% wanted to move away from home. When I had my interview I fell in LOVE with the campus and the facilities really were great. It was a group interview and really relaxed. We just had to create a mood board about ourselves and talk through it. You’ve got to remember that they want you as much as you want them.
Manchester Met was my safe bet choice, I didn’t want to go but if I got rejected from everywhere else then I would go. It was actually the first uni to offer me a place, no interview required.
Nottingham Trent had great facilities, wasn’t far from London and the course sounded amazing. I was really torn between here or LCF because I couldn’t decide between a degree quite broad or one quite specific.
London College of Fashion was the scariest application process because I wanted to be accepted SO bad. If you’re wondering, I didn’t apply to Central Saint Martins as none of the courses were for me, always apply based on course not university. Plus at any UAL college you get to share all the facilities, so I do spend most of my time at CSM library any way. Anyway, for LCF I had to submit a 10 page visual portfolio on Flickr, which is essentially 10 examples of work. Then I got an interview at about February time at their campus on Oxford Street. I nearly shit my pants I was so excited/nervous, I knew the course only had 50 places and about 20% of them were for international students only.
Not gonna lie, I’m probably the worst person to ask as I did mine in one draft and sent it. Just think that its your one chance to sell yourself so say everything you want to say. Remember that it’s unique to YOU, so don’t include any quotes from anyone else. Plus please, do not say ‘I have a passion for fashion’. RIP.
I had to bring along a portfolio of work which wasn’t much of a surprise. I just chose work that I could talk about, don’t pick anything that you’re not proud of showing because you won’t look confident. The interview was much more of an ‘informal chat’ with the course leader. She asked questions along the lines of;
- Where I got my inspiration from? Include examples of primary sources and please don’t say ‘the internet’.
- Why I wanted to study here ? do NOT say ‘well it’s LCF’. Talk about how its in the heart of London and you have everything on your doorstep.
- Why this course? Make this personal to you and think about why you actually want to be on that course, think about your career and where you would see yourself in 5 years.
I heard back from LCF the next day, I was so excited it was like Christmas day. Looking back now I have no idea why I was so excited.
Do I NEED To Go To University?
It’s a tough one. For me personally I’m glad that I did because it brought me to London. I deffo didn’t want to stay in Newcastle all of my life as there’s just no opportunity available there and I wasn’t patient enough to stay in a business and wait for an opportunity to develop to become available. Working in retail alongside my degree has helped me A LOT and if you’re thinking of doing a subject similar to me then I would say it’s essential. I’m lucky that I work in a place that has pretty much supported me through my degree and I get given the opportunity to put what I’ve learnt at uni into practise at work. However, there is times that I’ve felt like my job has taught me more than my degree. But I enjoy both of them and at the time it felt like the right step to take applying to University. It’s completely your call, do your research into all the options available for you.
So that’s kind of my summary and advice, any questions then leave them below.