My First Year at University

14 May 2015

Just yesterday I handed in my last assignment for my first year at university, which feels crazy to say as it seems like only yesterday I was just starting. I thought I would do a blog post about this as not only is university obviously a huge part of my life right now but also my course is fashion-related and I know that people are often interested as to what it involves plus it will give anybody who wants to do a similar course some more insight. Heads up, this might be a bit of a wordy post but I'm going to try and make it as concise as possible! 

First things first, the course I am studying is BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing/Management at the University of Southampton. I believe the entry requirements for this course were ABB at A-Level (though this information can be checked on the website) and previously I had studied no fashion/marketing/business-related subjects. At A-Level I studied Media Studies, Psychology, and Spanish so there's no need to worry if you think you should've taken Textiles or Business Studies. Though these subjects may give you slightly more knowledge to begin with but as long as you're interested in studying this subject and are willing to learn then you should be absolutely fine.

Before I begin speaking about my course I thought I would speak generally about starting university. As I live close I decided to stay living at home which means I travel to uni on the train each day which takes about 30 minutes. For me, this experience is fine and I'm completely used to it now. I've never had a problem with travelling via train and because I always bring something to read with me it doesn't seem like long at all. If this is something you are considering but are worried you will be the only one/you will miss out then I don't believe it has really affected me in a huge way and I know others on my course who also live at home too (and travel further than me). My main piece of advice for starting first year is to just talk to people as everybody is in the same position, if you live at home you may have to make a little extra effort as you're not living in accommodation with everybody else but ultimately you will make friends just as easily from my experience and it doesn't take too long before you're settled into the routine. I would also say that another good tip is you need to manage your time well but don't put a huge amount of pressure on yourself, you can still have fun and first year doesn't count.

Onto my course specifically, when people ask me what I'm studying and I say "Fashion Management and Marketing" I get a LOT of replies like "so, are you designing clothes and stuff?". The answer is no. The clue is sort of in the name. I chose this course because I wanted to get into the business side of the fashion industry, I think people often just assume design is the only route available but that is absolutely not the case.  Fashion Management/Marketing still requires creativity but this is balanced with being business-minded too. As reading about modules online can be a bit tedious sometimes I thought I'd give a brief description of what areas I've studied this year to explain what the course involves.

During my first semester I studied three modules - one bigger one and two smaller ones - which really provided me with the basic knowledge and skills needed to study this course. Firstly, the bigger module, Introduction to Fashion Business was about introducing us to analysing fashion businesses and teaching us different theories which we then continued to use throughout the year and undoubtedly will use throughout our entire time at uni. The assignment for this was a 3000 word illustrated report (don't panic - this does not mean drawing!) on a brand of your choice and a 500 word article. Digital Fashion Practices was a slightly more creative module which consisted of making 6 boards and introducing us to the Adobe Creative Suite, again which we have used to create our assignments ever since - my particular favourite is InDesign. The other module in semester one was Research and Communication Skills which is not incredibly fun however during this we learnt academic skills to assist with writing assignments, such as how to reference, and this was done in the form of weekly blog posts and related to fashion to make it more interesting and relevant.

Semester two consisted of two modules - another smaller one and the biggest one for first year. Consuming Fashion focused on the customer and for this we learnt about the way people shop, e.g. what influences them and how they make decisions. We had to choose a specific group of consumers and analyse their behaviour for a 2,250 word illustrated report. Finally, the assignment which I handed in yesterday was for Fashion Promotion. This module taught us about the different methods of promotion which brands can use and for our assignment we had to: do a group presentation, write a 500 word reflective journal, write a 2500 word project report analysing Primark and creating an integrated promotional strategy for the brand, plus create 6 mood boards. I can honestly say I have enjoyed all of my modules, my favourites were probably Introduction to Fashion Business and Consuming Fashion, and I do believe I have learnt a lot and can definitely notice improvement in my work just from semester one to semester two.

Aside from the modules I've studied the course has also given me several opportunities to visit London attend some fashion events, notably Pure which is a business to business trade show and London Fashion Week both of which I've written blog posts on (here and here).

For those wondering whether it's worth it studying a subject like this at university I personally think it is and I'm completely glad that I chose this course as it's something I have wanted to do for years. Getting a degree is definitely valuable but equally I think people can do it their own way through gaining work experience if that suits them better. I would say that you do have to be motivated and though this course is fun and I love it, it still requires hard work as any degree does and you need to be passionate about wanting to work in the industry.

Concluding my first year I had to make a couple of decisions in my last few weeks including selecting an option module and picking a pathway to specialise in next year (either management or marketing) which was quite difficult but I felt like the lecturers gave some very helpful advice. Now my plans for summer are to attempt to find an internship and to do more blogging! I hope this post was useful for those who are maybe considering studying fashion at university and feel free to ask any other questions in the comments or check out the course page here.

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