What is it like being an LCF student? Does everyone like London? How do you know if you picked the right course? Monica Barleycorn, BA (Hons) Fashion Management (now BSc (Hons) Fashion Management) third-year reflected on her decision and moving to London College of Fashion from Yorkshire.
After writing a similar blog post whilst I was studying abroad in New York City (which you guys seemed to really like) I thought I’d share a bit more about my time as a student at London College of Fashion. I’m currently in my final year of BA (Hons) Fashion Management and will be graduating in July. This post will also be live on the New Look Student Hub and will include little tips about applying for uni, what it is really like being a student in London and what the future holds.
The Back Story
Not everybody knows what they want to do when they grow up, but I was lucky enough to have had a pretty good idea from a young age. My interest in fashion started in my early teenage years, but really developed into a passion of mine whilst in the sixth form. Although I knew I wanted to do something in the fashion industry, I’ve never been much of a creative person (trust me – I’m potentially the worst person at art that you’ll ever meet). My interest wasn’t really in design as you might think when you hear the words ‘working in fashion’. Instead, my desire was really on the business side: buying/merchandising/marketing. I actually found out about London College of Fashion when browsing the internet one night looking for courses I had my heart set on attending pretty much since that moment. At A-Level, I chose subjects that I was interested in and excelled at, but also ones that would help me to achieve my goal of getting into LCF. I decided to take Maths, Business & Economics and English Language at A-Level as well as a BTEC Diploma in Business Studies. London College of Fashion is an extremely competitive university to attend. I worked really hard in the sixth form to get my grades, managed to get relevant work experience and ran my blog as a way of really helping me stand out and secure a place on my degree: BA (Hons) Fashion Management.
Making the move to London was a pretty big deal for me. My hometown of Whitby in North Yorkshire is a far cry from the big city. I’ll be honest when I say, I’ve never really missed home that much. Of course, there are times where I miss my family and friends, but I know London is the best place for me to be at this stage of my life. I’m lucky enough to have a really positive university experience and I couldn’t be happier that I chose London to spend my years as a student. I’ve made some incredible friends in the city and being a student here in the hub of the fashion world, has really paid off. During my time off uni (during the weeks or in summers), being in London has allowed me to gain internship experience and also be a part of big events like London Fashion Week. But, it’s not all glitz and glamour, London is super expensive, super competitive and at times, mentally draining.
When applying for university, I never thought I’d be accepted at London College of Fashion, so also applied for similar degrees at Westminster, Manchester, and Nottingham Trent. However, my hard work paid off and it all worked out and I started my degree in September 2012. I’ve really loved my degree from the outset and the content (units covering buying and merchandising, cultural and historical studies, visual merchandising, marketing, branding and lots more) has left me in good stead for working in the industry. The degree is predominantly coursework-based, although we do have exams in the final year. If you’re looking at applying for a fashion degree, its really helps to have relevant work experience and related hobbies. Something like having a blog can really show initiative and I honestly think my little space on the center has helped me no end in getting into uni and also when applying for jobs.
London College of Fashion is one of six colleges part of University of The Arts London which also has Central St Martins and London College of Communication within its portfolio. I expect going to university in London is a pretty different experience to most other towns/cities for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not the same as a campus university. For my degree, my campus is based in Holborn and it pretty much takes 45 minutes to get to uni every day on the tube, no matter where you live in London. Secondly, it is very female dominant. Before I started my degree, I did fear that going to a fashion university would be really bitchy or unfriendly, but I can honestly say I’ve never really experienced that kind of negativity. The atmosphere at LCF is really positive: full hardworking individuals with an of passion for the fashion industry and real motivation to succeed. I love surrounding myself with inspirational people that share the same drive for success.
One of the main reasons I chose my degree is because it offered a placement year. The placement year is an optional part of the course to gain an extra diploma (Diploma in Professional Studies/DIPS). LCF is a pretty well-connected university so on my placement year, I chose to first of all study abroad in New York at LIM College for the first six months before undertaking a paid student work placement at Ralph Lauren head office as an Allocator. I was really set on studying abroad in NYC ever since I had attended an open day at LCF. Although it was a very expensive move to make and took a lot of hard work in being selected by my course leaders, studying abroad was undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever done! Experience is arguably more valuable than education within the fashion industry and having the placement year is a great opportunity to gain experience and network before graduating. I’ve written a whole blog post about My Career Journey which explains in a bit more detail about my experiences working and interning in the industry.
I’ll be finishing my degree in May and graduating in July – and you know what, its pretty scary! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my university experience and I’m quite sad to see it coming to an end. I guess it’s time to face the real world! I’m currently in the stages of applying for graduate jobs, hoping to get a role in buying or merchandising with a multi-national retailer. Ultimately, I’d love to move back to New York, but it’s so difficult in visa terms and to get a job there. But hey – watch this space!
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