In September 2017, I started my first week in 6th form. I was set to study History, English, Media Studies and Film Studies. However, on my first day back at school, I was informed that Film Studies was no longer an available option and that I was to choose something else. After trialling various subjects over the following weeks, desperate to learn more in creative areas, it started to become clear that 6th form wasn’t want I wanted anymore. I was lucky enough to be offered a place at a local college where I could study Creative Media full time.
I’d like to share my experience of making this choice as it was not only big decision but something I never thought I would choose. Along with this I would like to explain what exactly Creative Media entailed and how the teaching environment differed from that of school.
Making the decision itself…
Throughout my school life, I performed well achieving high grades in all of my GCSE’s. It felt natural to continue my studies in the same way. I’ll be honest and say that I never considered any alternative options as I was genuinely looking forward to studying my chosen subjects.
Finding out that Film Studies was no longer available, I quickly became frustrated. Unfortunately, my comprehensive school wanted to push their pupils to study a minimum of four subjects at AS Level and so I was forced into selecting a new subject in replacement. Even though this was disappointing, it wasn’t the sole reason that pushed me to leave and study at college instead. During the few years prior to my decision I had become fairly unhappy at school. I had suffered with my mental health at times and the pressured environment was unhelpful.
It took me a few weeks of attending lessons to realise that 6th form just did not feel right. I wasn’t enjoying my chosen subjects all that much and was struggling with my fourth option. One particular day, I was waiting in class for my English teacher to arrive and after around twenty minutes had passed, I got up and left. I immediately rang my mum to pick me up and knew in that moment that I wasn’t going to go back.
I am very fortunate to have been supported by my mum who helped in finding alternative options. An arrangement was made for me to have a few taster sessions at my local college and that’s exactly what happened. Having been filming and creating content in my spare time since I was old enough to access a camera, I was really looking forward to this change. Once introduced to the college, it became obvious that I would be making the right decision in studying media there. That feeling of certainty over-powered any fearful and over-whelming thoughts I may have had.
Adjusting to the new environment…
It’s fair to say that comparing college to 6th form was almost like night and day. Without uniform, the environment was instantly more relaxed and I really appreciated this. At college, we referred to our tutors by their first names and even this small change had significance. In my opinion, this allowed for more personal, one-to-one interactions and having smaller class sizes helped this also. There was a feeling of equality in the classroom and so promoted greater respect. I think in a way this made everyone, not just the tutors, more approachable.
Being in a class of people of all ages did wonders for my confidence and I am so grateful for that. (It was actually through this course that I met my partner, Nathan!) Not only this but there was a greater responsibility in terms of committing to the course and putting the work in. It was a choice to be there and and so there was no nagging over missed lessons or work. In a way this also brought confidence through the ability in making those decisions.
These are just my observations based upon the college and school I attended so by no means reflect all instances in the U.K. However I do think it’s interesting just how different these environments were and how this then affected the way in which I learnt.
What was taught…
In terms of the types of media I actually studied, we covered a broad range of subjects. Over the two years, we did Graphic Design, Film, Animation, Photography, Sound and more. Despite not being interested in all of the areas, I did learn a lot of techniques and skills that over-lapped and it gave me a greater understanding of what I wanted to continue developing in the future.
For my course, we had one main classroom and five tutors in total. We all had our own individual iMac each to do our work on and this came with editing software. I believe the majority of our assignment work was individual although we did participate in some group projects. We would be given an assignment brief to refer to and this would be talked through by a tutor before we started work. As I mentioned before, it was down to the student to decide on how to approach each assignment and I liked this as I felt I could utilise my time.
One of my favourite assignments was the documentary I made in my first year. It featured my then 77 year old nana and her active lifestyle. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and learnt a great deal. Having filmed hours of footage that had to be cut down into 3-4 minutes was challenging. However, forced into such a short time limit, I began to understand the importance of cutting down to achieve a clear and interesting narrative. I will never forget how my tutor didn’t like the couple of jump-cuts I had left in. At the time I didn’t see it as a problem but now I completely agree and since then, have always ensured to film an abundance of cutaway footage in future projects.
Despite adoring the production of that documentary, I didn’t realise that it was the area I wanted to specialise in. I was too caught up in the idea of directing a film and lack of experience had left me with a poor representation of the role. It was only after completing my final major project in my second year, where I made a short film, that I changed my opinion. The more I had studied, the closer I got to understanding what I truly wanted to do and I am pleased that I studied Creative Media for both years.
I do not regret choosing to study Creative Media at college at all. I left the course with a D*D*D* Level 3 Diploma which has now, after taking my gap year, allowed me into my university of choice where I can pursue Media Production. The one thing I wish I had taken advantage of is the opportunity to experiment. Although I do think this comes with practise and confidence, creating my individual work would have been more interesting if I had let go and tried out different techniques and styles. This is something that I will most definitely be working on in future projects.
Going to college was an unexpected life change that brought me a lot of confidence and enjoyment. I knew my contentment was most important and so making the decision is something that I am proud of. Studying Creative Media opened my eyes to new career paths and opportunities and I look forward to continuing to make my own projects based on the skills I have learnt so far.
What do you think?
Don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Studying media at college ended up being one of the best decisions I had made and I would be interested to know what important life decisions you have had to make surrounding education or career paths.