My University Experience

I went to De Montfort University in Leicester with the intentions of completing a degree at Nottingham Trent after I finished the foundation course at Leicester. I was willing to stay at DMU if I liked it and if I became settled to move onto the degree but unfortunately that never happened. The foundation course was something that had to be done to ween you onto the degree - I'm not sure if its the same now but it was standard to do this for art based subjects at the time and we're talking 2010-2012.

I had studied art, graphics and photography at A Level and came out with brilliant grades. University was never something I actually wanted to do, it was something that was expected of me by both my family and tutors. I applied for 3 universities and went to an interview at DMU (I didn't bother with the rest!) and even then I wasn't fussed whether I got in or not. Obviously I did so I followed the crowd and enrolled in September 2010. As soon as I arrived on campus I despised it. I hated the freshers week and the promotion of drinking heavily and joining all of the different clubs made me feel so uncomfortable. I tried to show an interest but just couldn't seem to develop one and this continued to bring me down for the next few months.

Upon arriving at uni, we were put into what they called bays which were small boarded off areas of a huge room fitting quite tightly, ten desks and ten people. We were all put into alphabetical order to begin with and I was with mostly girls. The downside to this was they were all in halls together so they had had a few weeks to get to know one another and were talking as if they'd been friends for years. A couple of weeks after, we were all rearranged and sectioned off into categories based on which area we wanted to specialise in. These ranged from fine art to sculpture, fashion to photography and I went for graphics/illustration. These bays were much better as you were put with people of similar interests and there was more of a mix, gender wise. The space was still small, but we were encouraged to personalise it and make it our own. Each week we were expected to present our weeks worth of work to the bay and to the designated tutor and for me this was a complete nightmare for two reasons. I've never been confident with presenting anything and its only at my current job where I have become much better at talking in front of a group and also, my tutor hated me and the work I produced. Each week I dreaded it more than anything and I remember one of the lads from my group tried to cheer me up by suggesting to post a poo through my tutors letterbox. I don't think that ever went ahead.

There were also a few workshops we were told we had to attend and these were all pretty boring and not very hands on. There was not enough equipment for everyone to be working at once so a lot of the time was spent queuing to use machines or waiting until someone else had finished with a material or tool. I was still struggling to make any friends because I'll be honest, I was too anxious to approach people and people never showed an interest in me either. As time went on, I felt my self esteem sink lower than it had in my entire life and was experiencing the artists equivalent of writers block. Every piece of work I produced, I was told wasn't good enough and I was shown up in front of the other students in my bay.

As the end of the year drew closer, I knew I had some big decisions to make. Everyone else was planning their next steps onto the degree and meanwhile, I was planning an escape. I put very little effort into my final piece which just scraped as a pass mark and in my head knew I wasn't going to carry on with university. I told my parents when they eventually worked out I'd left it too late to apply to continue to the degree and although they were unhappy with my decision, they still respected it. On my last day, I walked out of there feeling terrified of the big wide working world but also the most relieved I've ever felt knowing I would never have to go back. I went home and burnt all of my work except for one piece and haven't regretted a single thing. 

University can sometimes be portrayed as the very thing that will land you your dream job, a portal almost to get you to where you want to be at the very end of education. This isn't always the case and whilst I have no problem with people loving university, it isn't all fun and games (as well as hard work don't get me wrong) that is often hammered into our heads. It's such a shame because uni doesn't even guarantee you a fantastic job at the end of it. I have friends who are working minimum wage jobs just to get by whilst applying for their ideal roles and not getting anywhere, even with the shiny degree on their CV. I won't lie, I have a decent job now but it has nothing to do with art. I've had countless rejection letters for design jobs and its pretty much down to a lack of degree. Hence why Pastel Elixir was born, determination to make it without the degree.

It's totally okay if you're going through university and don't feel its working for you. Don't be scared to consider your options. Its also okay if you don't even want to try it…I wish I had known this before I accepted my place at DMU. This isn't me being for or against uni…every one is different and things never work out the same for two different people. Follow your heart!

Thankyou for reading - let me know if you went to university and did it work out for you?


  1. Sorry to hear about you experience. I'm going to be applying for colleges soon and so many other people have been telling me what I should do. People are always on this college experience BS and I'm pretty tired of it. I hate the idea of living in a small dorm with a complete stranger. I would rather live on my own or even at home. Everyone's like your going to miss out on the college experience. Everything isn't for everyone ,and peo8should be allowed to switch things up to suit their needs. I personally don't mind living with my parents and following their basic rules. As long as I'm continuingmy education to achievemy dream I don't see the problem. Great post by the way!

  2. This is a very honest post and i have to agree some of your points as they apply to my time at University too. I graduated back in July from Bath spa Uni with a 2:1 in History. Although i did love my course i don't often drink so Freshers was a little pointless for me too. I didn't make a huge amount of friends. I also agree that a degree doesn't guarantee you your dream job and after three years at uni i still have no idea what my dream job is! Uni isn't for everyone, for some its brilliant but i think its needs to be said that you don't have to go to uni because its what you think is expected.


  3. Thank you so much for talking about this so openly. I personally also am not the biggest fan of university. It's just not what I thought I'd be so I'm just hanging on to get it over with. I think we should stop promoting uni as the be all and end all.

    Love, Kerstin

    1. Hang in there Kerstin - it'll be okay <3

  4. Great read doll! Thanks for sharing

    Lots of Love,


Popular Posts