Why I took an extra year

At first this was going to be a personal post but I thought I'd write about my current educational situation studying Art,Media and design foundation at The University of Wales,Newport. I had a comment from somebody anonymously asking advice about applying to study graphic design and if it's necessary to study Art Foundation beforehand. My answer to this is; no, it's not necessary. But I feel 100% happy with my choice to have an extra year before going to 'proper university', I've matured as a person, learned so many new things, met a fabulous group of people and thoroughly enjoyed myself. My last deadline of set projects is looming this Friday, and then I have to start thinking about my Final Major Project, so now seems like a good time to discuss the course and my thoughts about it. I Instagram from uni a lot, so I've compiled a few little photos to give you a taste of what exactly us art students get up to:
My 'art space' (everybody gets a space to exhibit work eventually for our final major project) we can personalize these to work in ~ Sketchbook work from this week, on our final set project based around 'The mechanisms of the creative mind' ~ Brandon in the fine art room sticking his pubes to a canvas (This is how random and weird fine art gets) ~ My second home, Caerleon campus in the snow back in January ~ Screen printing and to the right the colourful inks ~ During fashion week making a barcode dress out of paper and card in the theme of 'Op art' ~ My lovely art family ~ You get messy on Art Foundation, but it's fun~ 
PROS

1. You will learn SO much. 
not so much from teachers, but you'll learn from classmates, you'll learn new techniques, mainly all by yourself, from just experimenting with things and taking chances and risks.

2. You get a taste of the university lifestyle.
It may be different with other places, as i know some foundation courses take place in college, but for me I went to university, I had freshers and get all the experience that people on degree courses get, but with a very low bank account, as we don't get any funding (Which is very difficult and at times I hate it, but when a course is free you can't really complain)

3. Experimenting in different areas
For the first six or so weeks we had what's known as the 'carousel' which is where you alternate between artistic subjects every week. I think this went in the order of Classical architecture, sound and moving image, design, photography and fashion. Despite the week long projects being a challenge this time is great to get to know what you really like. In this time we also had life drawing and print making, so it's really a chance to get your basic skills up to scratch.

4. Meeting a new group of creative people
I've met amazing people on this course, and it's something which will always come in useful, not only have I made friends but I've made contacts. People have different areas of specialism. Who knows when you'll need a photographer to help you, or do jobs for them in exchange? There's even that future potential of collaborating. 

5. Produce a strong, varied portfolio
I'm not saying A Level students can't have a strong and varied portfolio, but this was my main reason for studying a foundation. I didn't feel quite ready to go onto a degree, and i knew my work wasn't quite at the stage back when I finished college. After having the difficult job of producing my portfolio (very recently) I've really seen the variety of work I've produced on this course and why this might appeal to universities. It's always good to have a mixture of art, life drawing, print making, design and photography. You never know when these skills could come in handy in the future. 

6. Guaranteed progression
I don't think this applies to any other universities, but The University of Wales, Newport offers a guaranteed progression onto a creative course in Newport if you get a merit at Art Foundation, this is a great opportunity, and is the main attraction for quite a lot of people on my course. This guaranteed progression means that as long as you get a merit you don't need an interview, and basically get into that university. It's a great offer!

With all situations there's going to be cons of course, and as great as Art Foundation is, it's not perfect, so here are some cons 

CONS

1. Money will be tight.
I've already talked a bit about funding. I've never struggled so much money wise until this year, I've paid about £70 to create my portfolio, and in the first six weeks purchasing art materials really did make me so broke I felt like crying on numerous occasions. Art doesn't come cheap, and Foundation students aren't able to have access to loans and grants, due to the course being level 3/4, as oppose to level 4. Despite having EMA (thank God) money is still tight. But you've got to learn to deal with it. If you're lucky enough to have a job, or manage to find a job during your time, then lucky you. I've learned that it's all about compromise, that Dominoes pizza that may get you through the deadline week may not be the best option for you financially. 

2. You will get times when you feel so stressed you just cry
I can't base this around everybody, but I don't deal very well with stress. So of course, there have been some tears. Once I cried over my animation, because I was something like 60 pages into finishing my 100 page animation, and it was the most tedious task i had ever done. I've cried at money matters, cried because there's just too much work. But you get through it and  then you look back and think "How on Earth did i do that?"

3. People don't take you seriously
"I'm an art student." *silence* There's always a negative stigma around artistic subjects, and some people don't really take you seriously, they don't take into account the amount of work that art entails. You'll get a lot of 'pfftts' that's for sure.

4. You will be scared. At first.
The first day of Art Foundation was really scary for me, not quite as scary as starting college, ALONE. But it was scary. What I would recommend is starting a Facebook group for the members of your class before you start, so you can at least meet some people online before you start. I started a group in the summer and quite a lot of the class joined, and we talked about starting and shared our fears about the first day, and it made everything a lot easier. 

I hope this post has helped the person that asked about Art Foundation, If you have any other questions feel free to ask me on my Tumblr or Twitter, you can find the links in my 'contact' section :)

~
Quick update on my life: I got a conditional offer from Glamorgan, and only need a pass to get onto the Graphic Communication course, which was my first choice! Due to the interview going so brilliantly i decided not to go to my interviews at Bath and Bristol, merely because it was a waste of their time and my time, and somebody else could have my place at the interview. So I can now say that I'm off to Glamorgan in September, and I'm very excited! 

Thanks for reading, and once again thank you for all the lovely positive comments!
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