I graduated university at 19 years old!

On Saturday, 9th November, 2019 I graduated at the Wakefield Cathedral with a Foundation degree in Creative & Digital Industries at 19 years old. I want to tell my story about that, so what better place to do that than my own blog?

I started off studying Level 3 Social Media for Business at Wakefield College (initially set up with Cognitiv), and was known as ‘the Cognitiv Course’. I was designing websites, building them, messing with WordPress and studying digital marketing. Now, the course had to assume that the students knew nothing. This wasn’t the case; I had been teaching myself HTML and CSS prior and I built my GCSE IT website from scratch, rather than using the drag-and-drop tools of Adobe Dreamweaver as the majority of the class were doing (it helped that I was doing GCSE Computer Science at the time too). I’d had a headstart, and more or less knew what I was doing, and was improving with direction from my tutors. My designs improved and my coding standards improved.

Now, the college runs the University Centre at Wakefield College (UCWC) from the new Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre (ASIC) building. There was a web design course there that was like a natural step forward for the course I was on. The programme leader for that gave us a lecture on the PARC principles as a favour to our tutor at the time. Later on in that year, he came down to observe our work.

Not long after, he gave me (along with two others) the opportunity to skip the second year of my level 3 diploma, and become part of a new cohort for the rebranded Foundation degree he led.

As you can see, I took it.

It was a whole new experience in education, and I was not prepared. The amount of sketchbook work and idea generation I had to do per module was staggering. I filled a sketchbook pretty quickly. I did some good work in my first year, including a website design, a website redesign and a playing-card themed wine label. Which is also where things went downhill.

My lecturer disappeared during one module and never came back. The university centre didn't arrange anyone permanent to cover the first year of the course, meaning a module and half wasn't properly taught. I managed to get a merit in the module he left in the middle of, which I find is an achievement (it was my highest grade). We had a permanent lecturer for the second year (though he had only a few months to learn about and prepare the second year), though things were still rocky. We went from being a cohort of five in the first year, to a cohort of 2. Two students failed and one quit. Our contact hours were reduced. In the second year, I had a chance to work with real people, such as Alisha Faye, and get some actual experience.

I managed to pass the modules here, with a lot of struggle, despite everything that had (and still was) happening. Then, in July, I found out I passed the course. It felt like a blessing.

In November, I graduated at 19 years old. The only member of my family to graduate. It was a huge win, and I'm glad that to leave university behind me.