Graduating uni and my plans for the future…

It is scary to think about but in a months time I will be a university graduate with a BA Hons in Graphic Design (ahhhh!!). Even though I have uploaded a couple of posts in the past about university in general (10 tips on surviving university or University room tour) I realised I’ve never really written about my personal experience or what my intentions have been after graduating.  Seeing as I’m down to my final few days as a student I reckoned now would be the perfect time for this post.

My University Experience 

I decided to study graphic design at uni because it was something I had always had a keen interest in but didn’t feel confident enough to try and break straight into the industry. After multiple open days and interviews I set my heart on Norwich University of the Arts because the course seemed to be amazing and I loved the idea of being surrounded by creatively driven people. I absolutely loved my first year of university and found the course to be so interesting and inspiring but, if I’m honest, it seemed to go downhill once second year began. First our amount of contact hours dropped to about 5 hours a week and we no longer had workshops or trips out of uni. Then everyones grades seemed to drop by at least 10%, bit of a shock when you think you’re doing well! The most annoying thing however was it felt as if the tutors became biased towards certain students whose style of work they liked and more opportunities were often sent their way. Guess thats the problem with an art degree where there isn’t a right or wrong answer and its all down to personal preference.

As far as the social side of uni goes it was definitely a rollercoaster! In first year I lived in student accommodation with 10 others.  I guess there was bound to be a certain element of drama when you stick a random group of 18 year olds in a flat together. Although I am still close with 8/10 of them I would say it wasn’t until my third year that I finally felt settled and with a solid group of friends around me. Looking back I do wish that I went to a larger university that had more societies to offer and, therefore, more opportunities to meet people but I wouldn’t change the bunch of pals I have now for the world.

I think the whole experience of going to university has really helped me to develop as a person, however cliche that sounds. It’s made me grow up and really taught me a lot about what I want to get from life. I’ve learnt the importance of friends and loyalty but equally not to be afraid to cut someone out my life who is bringing me more pain than joy. It has also provided me with some of the funniest memories to look back on (I will leave some photos below of my favourite times). Overall I have really enjoyed my time at uni, even if there are aspects of it I would liked to have changed, and I know that the day I have to pack my bags and finally leave is going to be a really difficult one!

My Future Plans

Apart from knowing that I want to be a graphic designer I have never really had a clear set path of what I wanted to do once I graduate. The closer it gets however I have decided that I am not ready to start my 9-5 office life just yet and would like to take the next year out to travel whilst I can. So far my plans are to work and save up until February then jet off to New Zealand and Bali for a couple of months. I will then come back home and carry on working to get some more money before then going out to America to spend a summer working at a camp. I say this all confidently as if I actually have everything booked (hahaha I wish) but still its nice to get ideas out there into the universe. For my travels across the world in February I want to go away with an arranged group/tour to begin with just to settle me in and form some friendships – if anyone has any recommendations for companies that provide this please leave them in the comments!

If however the traveling doesn’t work out, or I change my mind and want to go straight to working life, I think my plan will be to apply for as many internships and jobs in the graphic design industry as I can and hope that someone will take me on (fingers crossed all round please.) It is quite daunting to think that I will soon be kicking off my career but at the same time it’s in a field that I love and I am excited to finally be able to work on real life briefs! I will also of course try to keep up my blogging as much as I can and I hope this little blog will grow and adapt along with me as the next chapter begins….(I will leave this however on my favourite memory from uni, our scooby doo gang)

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Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on Becoming a Graphic Design student?

Unibox review

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I am now going into my final year at university and I would say I have this whole student thing down to a T. So when an email popped into my inbox from the lovely Daphnee at Unibox (theunibox.com) I thought it was a match made in heaven.

Unibox is a monthly subscription box tailor made for helping students get through another crazy term. They have a varied price plan where you can pay monthly for £21.95 a month or pay for 3 months, 6 months and up to a full year at a discounted prices. As far as value for money goes, which seems to be key with subscription boxes, the box is valued at over £37 so you are definitely getting over the worth of the box in products due to the sheer amount that you get (6-8 products). But that is enough of the technical talk time to open the box up and see what goodies are inside!

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All of the products included in the Unibox

I was blown away at how accurately Unibox had managed to cover the aspects of being a student. For me there are 4 main ares of uni life that they have covered perfectly – drinks, snacks, mental health and beauty (as well as a bit of organisation). On the top of the box was a zine that contained, not only, information about the products inside but also tips for surviving freshers, cheap meals to cook and some funny fresher fails.

 

unibox photos3.jpgPukka Matcha Green Tea – Lets all be honest here, when I put drinking and student in the same sentence I am sure you all instantly thought alcohol but (rather wisely) Unibox has thought more about the drinks you’ll need to recover a morning after a night out. If you couldn’t tell already by the name I am a major tea fan and green tea is amazing for cleansing out the gross hangovers. If I am being honest I am not the biggest fan of the taste of green tea but with a drop of honey this one was delicious!

BE Juice Drink – Walking around Lidl you will most likely add some chocolate and bread to your basket but sometimes those pesky vegetables just don’t seem to make the cut (even though we all know they should). This BE drink will be a perfect way to get some of your 5 a day in whilst also tasting lovely. In my first year of university my diet was horrendous and something I really came to regret when my health and mental health deteriorated. A drink like this will be the perfect little boost alongside those steamed vegetables which I have now come to love.

unibox photos4.jpgMunchy Seeds – Being a student comes with an eternal hunger that never seems to go away. Be it 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning I am always pining for a snack and in previous years I have reached for the honey flavoured munchy seeds. In the unibox I received the omega sprinkles flavour that I imagine will be lovely in some ready brek (yes I do still eat ready brek) and a great way to get in some nutrients that your  body will be craving.

Rhythm 108 Chocolate Brownie – My sweet tooth did a little happy dance when I saw this in the box. Chocolate brownies are one of my favourite things on this planet! When I saw that not only was this bar was considered to be good-for-you (how true that is I am unsure but it is gluten free and with no added sugar) but it could be heated in the microwave to make a gooey chocolatey dream my whole body started doing a happy dance!

unibox photos.jpgWarrior not Worrier Iron on Patch – To begin with what a cracking slogan that is! As I mentioned earlier in my first year of university I suffered badly from anxiety so I loved seeing that this box includes products that support help for mental health. I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the actual iron on patch but it did introduce me to a new clothes brand, Maison de Choup, in which 25% of proceeds goes to the charity young minds.

Unibox Goal Planner – I am a sucker for stationary but add a tropical print on there and I am in heaven. This gorgeous planner is tailor made for you to set yourself monthly goals at the beginning of each month and then review at the end to see if you completed them. Look wise this is right up my street and it is also very practical. I put it under mental health because I tend to find its easier to keep my anxiety under control if I have a structure and something to work towards to keep me motivated each day.

unibox photos2.jpgOptiat Hangover Coffee Scrub – Out off all the items in the box this is the one that intrigues me the most. It is peppermint scented and claims to revive your skin and perk up your mood after a night out. My acne gets horrendous around freshers week due to the stress, the alcohol and the crazy amount of makeup, face paint and glitter that goes on my face so if this can help that then I am all for it. The smell is something I am not the biggest fan of but if it does what it says on the tin (or the plastic bottle in this case) then that is something I can overlook. After testing it out I can say it did help to freshen up my skin but I must be honest and say that I used it the morning after a night out rather than, as it suggests, the night of simply because all I wanted to do was get into bed!

Mighty Razor Holder – I would say this was the most random product in the box but it does serve a good use. It is not something I would necessarily go out and purchase myself but after having it in my shower for a couple of days it is actually quite handy. It sticks to any shiny surface without leaving any marks so there are no fears of losing some of your deposit for damaged walls. This might be useful for the bearded ones amongst us who need to keep a razor more to hand than me.

DSCF2848.jpgUnibox Card Holder – I didn’t quite know what category to put this in so I made it into its own category. There have been so many times on nights out, or even just going to uni, where I want to bring my phone but don’t want the hassle of bringing my purse with me. This card holder sticks to the back of your phone and then has a pocket to slot in whatever you might need – ID, Card, Uni ID. Genius!

Overall I am very impressed with the Unibox and the range of products in included. Each one served a very useful purpose and I can definitely see myself using everything that was included. The unibox website is here if you are interested and I would really recommend checking them out (especially seeing as the next box is Hocus Focus themed if you sign up by the 16th October!)

ALSO Code BLOG5 will give you £5 OFF your 1st order (so go get that halloweeny student goodness!)

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on 10 tips on surviving university

Art University vs ‘normal’ University

Going to an art university can often get you quite a lot of stick (something I will go into more detail in a later post) but it is also a very different experience from, what’s considered to be, a ‘normal’ (by this I mean not just one field related) university.

For this blog post I have got the help of my 2 lovely friends Holly who attends a ‘normal’ university and is studying Pharmacy and Georgia who attends Leicester university and is studying English literature. Through a series of questions we will look at the main differences between their university experiences and mine.

Georgia – Second year student at Leicester university studying English Literature

  1. WHAT WAS YOUR APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE? Similar to everyone else’s, you have to apply through UCAS. You pick 5 Uni’s and prioritise 2, and wait to hear back about your grades and if you’ve been accepted
  2. HOW MANY HOURS ARE YOU IN UNI AND WHAT IS THAT TIME MADE UP OF? It depends what course you’re on , and what modules you pick. For example, on a straight BA English course it is between 6-9 hours a week, however because of the modules I chose I was in around 12-15 hours a week in first year. This year my hours have changed , and I would say I am in 8-9 hours a week for lectures. These hours do not include the many hours spent in the library. When I am at uni this time is used primarily for lectures and seminars.
  3. IS YOUR FINAL GRADE MADE UP OF COURSEWORK OR EXAMS? Our final grades are made up of both coursework and exams. Once again this depends on whether you are doing single honours or a joint honours, and what course you are on. There is usually more weight given to coursework as opposed to the exams.
  4. HOW MANY SOCIETIES DOES YOUR UNIVERSITY HAVE? Between 150-200 (there are loads this is just a guess)
  5. WHAT IS THE SOCIAL LIFE LIKE AT YOUR UNIVERSITY? Being in a student city means there are lots of places to go and the locals don’t seem to mind us
  6. WHAT IS YOUR STUDENT UNION LIKE? There are lots of food options in the SU but places like Starbucks and some of the canteen food is oquite expensive. We do have our own O2, which is great for a student night out and regularly has bands coming in to perform.
  7. IS IT A CAMPUS OR A CITY UNIVERSITY? It is a campus university
  8. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST YEAR ACCOMMODATION LIKE? I spent first year in john Foster halls in Oadby which was a lovely area and I had a great room. The room came with an en suite and the kitchen area was shared between 5 of us and was very modern.
  9. HOW EASY WAS IT TO MAKE FRIENDS? In our building, there was 28 of us on different floors and we were lucky enough to all get on really well. It was incredibly easy to make friends both in halls and on the course.
  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE PART ABOUT UNIVERSITY? Favourite part of uni: making lots of new friends and getting to explore Leicester. Least favourite part: paying £2,50 for the washing machines in first year and having to decide really too quickly on who you live with for second year

Em (me) – Second year student at Norwich University of the Arts studying Graphic Design

  1. WHAT WAS YOUR APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE? I began by applying through UCAS which was then followed by an interview from each of the universities (blog post about it here)
  2. HOW MANY HOURS ARE YOU IN UNI AND WHAT IS THAT TIME MADE UP OF? Technically in a week I only have about 5 scheduled hours of lectures which are from my tutors as well as external designers but the rest of time is known as group teaching which basically just means free time in the studio to get work done where tutors will be around to talk to if you need help. Once a week I will also have a crit with my teachers where they give me feedback on my work. In the first year we had a lot more scheduled workshops and stuff but that has stopped as the years have gone on.
  3. IS YOUR FINAL GRADE MADE UP OF COURSEWORK OR EXAMS? It is all coursework but for each term I also have to write some form of essay or research project for the contextual studies aspect of my course.
  4. HOW MANY SOCIETIES DOES YOUR UNIVERSITY HAVE? I’m really not sure but as a guess I would say around 20? The main one we have is the storehouse magazine which is completely created and run by students.
  5. WHAT IS THE SOCIAL LIFE LIKE AT YOUR UNIVERSITY? There are lots of typical places where NUA students go on a tuesday and friday night but I would say in general Norwich is filled with loads of pubs and a good variety of clubs.
  6. WHAT IS YOUR STUDENT UNION LIKE? Our student Union is a lot smaller than most other universities but it does still offer support for students and organises a range of events particularly during freshers week.
  7. IS IT A CAMPUS OR A CITY UNIVERSITY? It is a city university
  8. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST YEAR ACCOMMODATION LIKE? I stayed in a newly built student accommodation in a flat of 11. We had our own bedrooms with en suites then shared a kitchen and living space. As far as student accommodation goes it was really really nice!
  9. HOW EASY WAS IT TO MAKE FRIENDS? I think it was slightly harder in my uni than others due to the fact we don’t have that many societies and my course is quite an individual one but it was definitely easy making friends within my first year accommodation. I think it helped that we all did an art-based subject so already had something in common.
  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE PART ABOUT UNIVERSITY? Favourite part of uni: having independence and meeting new people. Least favourite part: the stress of deadline day and the cost of printing.

Holly – Second year student studying Pharmacy.

  1. WHAT WAS YOUR APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE? I applied via UCAS and had to be interviewed for my degree by all the universities I applied to before an offer could be made, although this isn’t typical of most science degrees (my degree is part science and part healthcare). Each university seemed to have a different style of interview. For example, one of the universities I applied to had a ‘mini-stations’ format, that presented you with problems to solve on ethical dilemmas, chemistry, mental maths and a group work exercise. However, my other interviews were more of a casual chat about myself and why I wanted to study pharmacy.
  2. HOW MANY HOURS ARE YOU IN UNI AND WHAT IS THAT TIME MADE UP OF? An average week for me is about 22 hours. A bad week can be as many as 30 hours, and a good week at the end of term can be as little as 10 hours (this is rare, only seems to happen at the end of a semester!). Most of my teaching time consists of lectures, which are an hour long each. Usually once a week I’ll have a workshop, which is where a group of 30 of us attend and attempt to answer (attempt being the operative word here) questions from a worksheet based on material that has already been covered in lectures. A lecturer leads the session and answers any questions we have about the work. We’ll also have a series of ongoing labs, usually 3 x 3 hour practicals per module.
  3. IS YOUR FINAL GRADE MADE UP OF COURSEWORK OR EXAMS? Most of my 1st year modules were assessed 100% by exams. 2nd year has been 70% exams and 30% coursework, but 3rd year will be 50% exam and 50% coursework which I am very much looking forward to. My final year is mostly based on my masters project, but I’m not sure about weighting yet…
  4. HOW MANY SOCIETIES DOES YOUR UNIVERSITY HAVE? Erm… a lot? I wish I could tell you more about them but I haven’t really gotten involved. I did try, I managed to attend Vegsoc for 6 weeks.
  5. WHAT IS THE SOCIAL LIFE LIKE AT YOUR UNIVERSITY? I don’t have one, but most normal people do. I don’t really like the night clubs in town (my excuse for not going out is that I have ‘so much work to do’), and as previously mentioned I haven’t gotten involved in any societies so I socialize with friends I made in halls and course-mates. I’ve heard a few people conclude that the nightclubs in town aren’t great, but I think the social side of uni is what you make of it.
  6. WHAT IS YOUR STUDENT UNION LIKE? Decent. 2 club nights a week, happy hour on Fridays, elections once a year for various positions, campaigning for issues such as student housing demand etc. Very busy and active, they do a lot to improve our university experience.
  7. IS IT A CAMPUS OR A CITY UNIVERSITY? Campus. Most people live in halls on campus in first year, and then second year onwards in privately rented houses.
  8. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST YEAR ACCOMMODATION LIKE?It was okay! I went for ‘cheap and cheerful’ shared bathroom accommodation in a flat of 21 people, which I was mildly terrified about beforehand. I had my own sink in my room though. With a bit of a stretch I could brush my teeth on my bed and spit my toothpaste out into the sink, such fun! We had 3 kitchens between us, 4 toilet cubicles and 5 shower rooms.
  9. HOW EASY WAS IT TO MAKE FRIENDS? The first 3 weeks of first year is the easiest time, as you are constantly meeting new people who are all just as terrified as you. I was lucky as being in a flat with 20 other people meant I didn’t have to search too hard for people to impose my awkwardness upon. It does become more difficult to find new friends as the weeks go on, but I’ve managed to make some new closer friends in my second year, so if you don’t find ‘your people’ within the first week, don’t panic.
  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE PART ABOUT UNIVERSITY?I like the independence and freedom. I can have cereal for dinner and do my laundry at 3am if I want to (I’ve never done either of those things, but mum and dad would never know if I did. It’s a great feeling). I don’t like how stressful academics can be, or how lonely/boring it can be on the weekends.

I hope this helped anyone out who is thinking of applying to an art university, or just any type of uni at all! Let me know how your university experiences relate/differ to mine, Georgia’s or Holly’s. Any more questions feel free to ask!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on 10 tips on surviving university

 

Becoming a Graphic Design student?

I am now (rather scarily) heading into my third and final year of studying Graphic Design at Norwich University of the Arts. Time has flown by and to think that this time next year I will be looking for my first full-time job is excitingly petrifying.

Thinking about it though reminded me of this time 3 years ago when I was applying for this very university course I am about to complete. I remember it being a daunting and, at some times, confusing process so I thought I would use my experiences to help any of you out there going through it right now (or those of you that are just curious). It is important to note however that this is just what I have taken from my personal experience and there are other routes you can take to get into university instead of just A-levels, such as an art foundation.

APPLICATION

  1. Finding the right university for you. Just like any other university course, applying for a graphic design (GD) course all begins with a UCAS application. The only difference with other courses however is that there isn’t as wide of a selection of universities that offer it as a course. For this reason alone it means its incredibly important to do lots of research into the universities that do offer it through their websites, student platforms and visiting them on open days. Most GD courses will be different in one way or another, some also include lots of illustration, some are very technology-driven, some are more focused on the academic aspect behind design and some just offer a lot more freedom than others. You won’t know which is right for you until you do some research
  2. What grades do I need? Just like the courses differ, the grades also vary between universities. When I was applying 4/5 of the universities I applied for wanted ABB and 1/5 wanted BBB. Again it’s just a case of looking through UCAS at expected grades and picking one that is motivational yet achievable, don’t underestimate yourself but also don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders. A majority of universities ask for some sort of artistic subject as 1/3 of your A-levels but DON’T PANIC if this isn’t achievable for you. I got into NUA with A-levels in maths, business studies and history and used my external design experience (which I will go into more detail in the portfolio section) to show my talent and passion in graphic design.

PORTFOLIO

  1. Why do I need a portfolio? A majority of GD courses are all coursework based, which means you sit no exams instead you just hand in physical and digital work that you have completed throughout the year. This is why universities ask you to show a portfolio when applying for the course, so they can see you have a talent and a good understanding of what you must do to produce artistic outcomes to suit a brief.
  2. What do universities want to see in your portfolio? Again this differs from university to university. Some have a specific checklist of what they want include and some leave it completely up to you. A majority of universities want to see any work that you have completed in you artistic based A-level so bring in your workbooks as well as any final pieces, if your work is too big to bring in then photos work just as well. They also want to see however that you have a much deeper interest in Graphic Design so also show any external projects you have done that include things like branding, advertising, packaging, editorial layouts and even photography. They don’t just like to see the final outcomes but also your thinking processes and sketches to show how you ended up where you did.
  3. What can I put into my portfolio if I don’t have artwork from school? As I previously mentioned I did not get an A-level in an artistic based subject but I still got offers from 4/5 of the universities I applied for (NUA, Brighton, Reading and Loughborough). I filled my portfolio up with external projects and here are some of my top suggestions of things you can do…

IDEA 1 – Try and get some work experience at a design agency local to you. Not all agencies take on younger students but there is no harm in sending out an email to ask. I completed 2 weeks at ToThePoint and left with enough design work to fill a whole portfolio as well as a better understanding of what life as a graphic designer is really like.

IDEA 2 – Get involved in any design opportunities that you come across at school. Whether that’s designing the cover/layout of your yearbook, invitations/posters for your school prom, helping out with any publications like a newsletter or even offering to do a display board for one of your teachers it all helps!

IDEA 3 – Look online and on social media for free briefs that are posted. Websites such as Briefbox and I Am Creative offer free briefs from, in some cases real, clients that you can complete for your portfolio and even enter them in competitions. You can even get work just from scrolling on Instagram where accounts such as WeLoveWebDesign post competition briefs that if you enter could be shared on their page to thousands of followers (but even if you don’t its still a great way of filling up your portfolio)

IDEA 4 – Make up your own brief. Look around your room and pick the first brand you see (in my case its currently PG Tips). Come up with some concepts for a new logo and packaging then create an adverting campaign to sell your new products and voila you have a whole project to add to your portfolio.

INTERVIEWS 

  1. How do I get an interview? Once you’ve sent off your UCAS application a majority of universities also require you to attend an interview. Some promise interviews to anyone that applies whereas others will first ask you to submit a digital portfolio that they will then choose a few people from to offer interviews to. Just sit tight and wait for all those interview offers to come flooding in.
  2. What should I bring to my interview? Obviously you will need to bring the amazing portfolio you just finished putting together. Some universities also require you to bring some sort of written work as well. Different universities require different things such as ID and references but each one will send you a detailed email of what you need to bring so don’t worry!
  3. What kind of questions should I expect? It is important to note that these interviews aren’t there to scare you they are there so the universities can see you have a real passion for graphic design. They will mostly just ask you about the work in your portfolio as well as your inspirations behind each piece. They will want to know why you want to attend their university specifically and maybe even what inspired you to do graphic design in the first place. Some universities will throw some curve ball questions at you but don’t panic they don’t want a perfect answer they just want to get a better idea of your personality.
  4. What will happen in the interview? As I’ve said many times, every university is different. To give you a comparison I will quickly talk you though 3 of my interviews. BRIGHTON: I arrived and was put in a room with a group where we all layout our portfolios, we were then taken on a tour whilst the tutors looked through our work, we then had 10-15min individual with the tutor plus a first year student where we talked through my work. NUA: I arrived and played out my portfolio in a room with 6 other students, we then sat outside in a group with some first/second year students and were then called into the room individually to go through our work. LOUGHBOROUGH: I was given a tour of the university in a large group and then we all sat and waited in a room till I was called in individually for a meeting with a tutor and a student to go through my work. As you can see all universities are different and some may have even changed since I was there but none of them are any reason to panic at all.
  5. How long do the interviews last? For a majority of my interviews I would say I was there for an hour but some were longer and some much shorter so my advice would be to book an open return ticket. Whilst you’re in the city/town that the university is in you might want to stick around and do some shopping or go for a meal or just generally get a feel for the place you could potentially be spending 3 years in.

That’s about all I can remember about the application process. I will however just add in that in comparison to a lot of other courses (and due to the interviews being quite late in the year) most offers for graphic design courses come in quite late so don’t be disheartened if all of your friends are getting offers and you are still waiting to hear back!

If you have any other questions leave them below and I will be happy to answer them.

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on University room tour