What I Have Learned at Uni
Sorry to make this post sound incredibly *self actualised* and possible even *smug*, but Uni is a sharp learning curve for most people, and also a time when you learn more about yourself and who your real friends are than ever.
1. My University experience was less about the knowledge gained, and more about being exposed to an industry that I decided, in the end, was not for me.
I would be lying if I said I had come out of university with any actual knowledge or skills acquired, but not wanting to call my three years in London a 'mistake' has led me to view this experience as something quite valuable: knowing what you don't want to do. I was going to ruthlessly pursue fashion photography and forget academia in September 2012. By December I had more or less decided that the fashion industry was, by and large, vacuous, unfulfilling and near impossible to get work in.
2. No matter how hard you try, sometimes you get bad grades.
Especially true for art university courses! I was spoiled at school because I have a good memory, so could always do quite well in terms of grades. At Uni, I never knew what was expected of me. Even when I did, your tutors may have diverse artistic styles to you and even though it's meant to be a totally objective grading process, everyone knows that this is simply not the case.
3. People won't be the same as they were at school.
Expecting to go to Uni and for my cohort of students to be as enthusiastic and driven academically as my class at school was perhaps naive. In fact Uni was a complete melange of motivational levels. Some very driven individuals mixed with with people who seemed to care less, despite forking out 9,000 GBP per year on tuition alone. If you come from a different background as your peers, for example, it will be hard to find people to relate to.
4. Living alone is awesome.
The freedom to occasionally have an oven pizza at a ridiculous time, or lie in until the afternoon without any guilt by far trumps the minor nuisances of laundry and cooking. If you can't handle the maintenance of living alone when you're only fending for yourself, how will you ever run a household! Cooking, cleaning, doing what I resentfully call 'life admin' will never go away, so suck it up and be efficient about it, and you may find you enjoy autonomy in all it's forms.
5. A Bachelors doesn't have to be the end of the line.
I enjoy being a student. I enjoy learning, and I enjoy writing, and I enjoy pushing myself. Having had such a personally disappointing experience for my Bachelors, I decided that I would try and get onto a Masters course to salvage my uni experience and look back on these years in a more favourable light. I am now going to do Cultural and Arts Administration as an MA, and am so excited that I am already studying in preparation for it!
In conclusion, uni is about more than what books you read while you are there. Uni is about becoming a functioning stand-alone adult, and sometimes learning what you don't want to do is a valuable a lesson as knowing what you do want to pursue.
Good luck to any BA or MA students out there, and enjoy the journey! (ugh, lame phrasing...)