One of my goals over the past 10 years, that I finally completed last year was to graduate University. It has always been my dream to go to University. I know that sounds completely cliche, but well, it’s true.
I loved being academic, and the thought of studying something I was passionate about, was thrilling. I wasn’t raised being told I needed to go to Uni, neither of my parents went, but they always encouraged me to do the best I could, and honestly, I thought that was going to Uni.
Also; this post turned out to be way longer than expected, like it was the size of a university essay! So instead of putting all my experience, opinions, and tips into one blog post, I’ve decided to separate them. So on this post will come out on the Monday, my opinions on university will come out on the Wednesday, and then finally my university tips, as well as a video for my youtube, focusing more on the art school part of university, will come out on the Friday.
A little bit of background on me personally;
All I wanted was to study art and history. I was/ and still am very passionate when it came to art, so I really wanted to build my art knowledge and skills. I went to a bunch of different open days, and fell in love with Deakin University (Melbourne), which I ended up being accepted to.
I was also accepted to a specialist art university. The way applying and acceptance to uni works in Australia, or at least in Victoria, is that you put 12 preferences to where you want to go, in order of which you would prefer, and then when you get your ATAR score (Year 12 results), the universities in your list look at whether your score was high enough, if they want you at their school, etc. And then you get an offer. It isn’t like the American movies where you get multiple offers and then decide, you only get one.
The way I got two was because I was applying to art related courses, and many ran on portfolio based submissions, rather than ATAR. I got rejected by one course, told I got into the specialist school, and then got an offer from Deakin (which was based purely on ATAR).
During University, I did three years on campus, then a following two semesters (1 year) online. The online part was due to failing a couple of units and needing those electives to be eligible to graduate.
I went into uni, really eager to learn and do my best. I had just moved to Melbourne from my hometown, and was in a suburb called Ivanhoe. By public transport, it took an hour to get to uni, but with my car, only 20 minutes. I was not deterred by the public transport in anyway, and I was really positive going into it.
I always picked electives that I wanted to do, my core units were art-based, such as painting and artist books, then I added photography, games design, journalism and history. Most subjects had an hour or 2 hour tutorial (class), as well as a corresponding hour lecture. For my subjects, not attending the lectures was pretty easy to do without missing out on information, it was all put online.
With this, I found that unless I had the mindset to study, I couldn’t really focus on the lectures, so I would catch-up online.
Assignment wise, I did alright in my electives, but I was there for the core units, I was there for the painting subject, unfortunately this did not go as well. The teachers of this unit, stuck with the framework, it was no longer about creativity, and if you didn’t have the same mindset as them, you weren’t really noticed. My folio result first semester was mixed up and when I went to talk to the unit chair to get it fixed, a professor I had had all semester, shook my hand and said “nice to meet you”, he had no idea who I was.
Due to this, my motivation and willingness for university started to fail. I did not really want to be there, but I was encouraged to keep going.
After 6 months between semesters over the new year, I had new motivation to do better. I did a lot better in my electives, and really tried to make the best of it. The art-side however, pretty much got worse. My grades went down, and I realised that unfortunately, the only way to get anywhere in those classes, was to do things, their way. Even when I did so, when I justified my artistic decisions, I was told that wasn’t the way to do so. University became more of conforming than actually creating anything I really wanted to do. It also made art, become more of a chore. At home, I needed to work on stuff for my course, and struggled to find the balance so that I could actually create things I wanted to.
Third year was a whole lot better. I was honestly just keen to finish the year and graduate, I didn’t care how well I did. First class of painting, the lecturer, let’s call her “D”, was going around talking to each member about their goals. When she got to me, she asked me why I was still there, she looked at my grades, asked about why I wasn’t motivated – I couldn’t really say because you professors never even look at me, and just smash down everything I create – and said I could only come back after I booked an appointment with one of the counsellors to talk about my motivation.
D then listened to what I wanted to create and gave me so many suggestions to help with where I wanted my art to be. Needless to say, I worked a lot harder at my portfolios, and actually created a few artworks that I loved. (Even though these artworks barely got a passing mark, hell I’d just started on one of them, and another one of the teachers came past and made the statement about how i really needed to build up a certain layer, when it was still the underpainting.)
My last semester I also took a games design elective. The teacher of this class was one of the best teachers I have had in my entire scholastic life. He straight out said that he understood not all of us wanted to be games designers, but he wanted each of us to create something that worked on our individual portfolios. Our major assignment for that class, also happened to be a group project. This group of people were honestly some of the best people I met at uni. We honestly spent most of our time laughing and having fun, and a year on I’m still good friends with many of them. It was this class where I started digital painting, and some of the best I’ve done. We were all so worried about our final presentation, only to find out that we had done so much extra work to everyone else. To keep ourselves entertained, we started sending random stickers to the group chat and trying not to laugh. If any of you happen to read this, you guys are amazing!
I also want to mention one specific elective I took in my third year, Supernatural Literature. Whilst studying books such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones sounds amazing, the “professor” that taught this elective made it so unenjoyable, the only reason I went to class was because I had a few friends in there, that made it bearable. This man, lets call him PP, because I used to refer to him as the Pompous Poodle, would not listen to anyone of us in the class, only had his way of looking at things, and thus the whole class taught by him did terribly, and many of us tried to go to any other class taught by the lecturer. When asked for our opinion or answer to a question, PP would tell us “No, that’s wrong”. One class, after the first assignment was completed, the attendance was maybe 10, his comment was “I feel this attendance today is in exact correlation with the quality of your essays”. That class we were expected to work together on the questions given, and though I had been class scribe and was writing down our answer, he decided that wasn’t good enough, so started his own. And then told us we weren’t trying hard enough and should do the work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I would honestly like to thank Alyse, Tiffany, and Penny for making this class so much better, as we honestly sat at the back giggling the whole time.
My last part of uni was done online. I did this so that I could complete uni after I failed a few electives, and honestly I would highly recommend online uni courses. Of course, I couldn’t have done this sooner due to being in a painting course, though I am sure there are some. Online is a lot more flexible, but then also makes whether you pass or fail in your hands. I think if you were to have a scheduled time to do your learning, it would make it a lot easier, but it was doing my last units online that allowed me to move to NZ.
I went back to Australia for the Graduation ceremony, and that was honestly some of the most fun I’ve had a uni. I sat next to a girl named Kirstie, and we honestly spent the entire time trying not to laugh too loud, and making our own commentary. Thanks girl for getting me through that long as ceremony!
If I was to go back and do things over, I would possibly change my course or wouldn’t even go at all. University for art honestly made me hate it. Drawing and painting became a chore, and it has taken most of last year to reincarnate my passion for it. I honestly couldn’t have done it without my amazing support crew, and lots of V energy drinks, and Macca’s Frappes (they act as coffee to me).
Please know the my experience and opinions were purely my own, whilst my experience wasn’t so good, many people had a much better experience than me. Do not let my experience deter you, university was just not the right fit for me.
I hope that this post might help some of you, whether it is deciding whether Uni is for you, how to look for courses, or even if you are already at university and want to make the most of it. Which ever boat you are in, I hope that find success with your endeavours!