This post is primarily aimed at my friends who are/will be studying their final year in Photography at Coventry University, however some of this advice can apply to you if you’re a student on any course. I wanted to create this post because final year is such an important year and any help I can give will help you be more prepared and hopefully less stressed.
- Go ahead, start your research early! If you want to start planning your dissertation or project ideas early because you are worried you’ll fall behind then I say get brainstorming, just be aware that plans change and what you construct now will be de-constructed and re-constructed before the final idea comes to place.
- Visiting exhibitions is one of the best ways to get your ideas flowing.
Think about what tools you might need and get them. If you are thinking about making a book this year, then get your tools ready so you aren’t wasting time finding them. Get all sorts of stuff, A4 paper, notebooks, stapler, paintbrushes. Whatever you think you’ll need.
Don’t prioritise one module over another, everything you are doing is important and so needs to be treated as equally important.
Money Money Money! So money is kinda helpful y’all, you should be working during the summer or getting a part time job. If you want to make amazing work and fulfil some big ideas then lack of money shouldn’t be a problem. I can tell you now, you are going to be spending most of your money this year on print credits, equipment and final pieces.
- Start planning for what happens after your degree. Yep, this is early on the list because it needs to be early in your mind! Research MA’s, apprenticeships, jobs or commissions.
- Sketchbooks. Do not leave it until the last minute *cough* Chris *cough* and make sure you’ve written every important detail at least twice, cover your bases and cover your ass.
- I am a bit of a hermit, but even I will say that a visit to the pub or the OCCASIONAL night out is needed to blow off some steam. But I am pretty sure you’ll just want to sleep most days instead, so maybe go for a run?
- TREAT YO SELF. You want a bar of chocolate? eat it. You fancy a lay in at the weekend? Do it. Don’t deny yourself of something as long as you can afford to, if you are working hard then you reward yourself.
- McDonalds and Sainsbury’s will be your best friend by the end of the year.
Use Unidays or Student Beans to get discounts on food and haircuts.
- Bulk is good, buy some things in milk such as: milk, soup, vegetables, cleaning products, makeup wipes.
- If you have the energy then I highly recommend visiting Coventry Market and getting some organic, yet very cheap, vegetables or meat products. It smells quite bad in the market but I got a load of Kale for 68p once so brave it guys.
- Time for the nitty gritty part I am afraid and that is degree show preparation. This will probably be the most stressful part of the year but also the most important as the outcome will reflect on each and everyone of you. Meet every week, start thinking of a title name soon and get those invitations sent out asap. Also google drive is a lifesaver.
- There will be times during the before/duration of the degree show where someone or some people are not pulling their weight and contributing, believe me it will happen and I know it’s infuriating. But take the advice of my good friend Rachel Hennis, who told me that it’s best to forget about them and get the job done ourselves so that we can all go home and chill.
We are so lucky to have the professional futures module, we have some lovely guests so please sit down and talk to them. Even if they don’t seem relevant to you, go and talks to them because presuming is a mistake I made a few times this year. Don’t forget to tell them how grateful you are that they’ve come to talk to you guys, they are busy people but still have time to be lovely and chatty.
- I have so much love for Brodie Standen. This isn’t advice I just wanted to include him in this post.
If there is some information you want to learn more about, such as the art market perhaps, then ask if you can arrange for a lecture during your futures module.
- Find out which lecturer you work best with and consult them often, you should still be seeking the opinions of others in formative feedback and the occasional tutorial but its good to have that one person you relate to and work well with.
- Daniel Bosworth is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and probably borderline dangerous with his jokes, expect the unexpected with him and enjoy his brilliant laugh.
- Look after Emma Lambert as she’s got her own amazing work going on, yet she is still able to be a fun and helpful lecturer. She’s also got to keep an eye on Dan who he’s prone to getting distracted with throwing paper balls into a bin.
Don’t mention you haven’t watched Dirty Dancing, just don’t. By the way Gemma, I still haven’t watched it. I am not sorry.
- If Gemma is teaching you then expect a weekly email that acts as a sort of bible or prophecy in which she lists why she loves you and why you are driving her crazy at the same time. This email will include Gemma’s signature ending by telling you to breathe and hydrate yourself, which will make you feel loved on a calm day and get on your tits on a bad day. She’s just trying to help so for that Gemma, we love you.
- Please please please don’t be selfish (or snakes, that is for immature children). Just once a day i’d like you to think about other people and their problems. Listen to them and lend a hand, a small gesture can mean a lot.
- You will look forward to graduating, until you realise you can never use the media loan shop again.
My last piece of advice sounds impossible but guys, have some fun. Yes you do need to work hard and it isn’t all fun and games but knowing when to have a little laugh is so important to your mental health. There are days when you love your year and days when you want to hit someone around the face with a photobook. But before you know it, your journey as a BA student will be over and you will be struggling to remember the good times if you don’t try and stay positive.
I might not have loved every second of my time at university, but I have loved every day. I am so grateful for the opportunities that this degree has given me and without the support of the lecturers I would not got as far as I have. Time goes quickly so get your heads down and produce some kick ass work, then get up and celebrate.