Want to study fashion? How to pick the right fashion course
You don’t want to be a fashion designer, you know you don’t have those skills, but you love fashion and would love to work in the fashion industry after university - so what university course should you choose? Picking the right degree course can set you up for a great career path in the industry, but careful steps should be taken to make sure you get the most out of your 3 or 4 years in education.
The number of fashion courses that are now offered by universities has been steadily increasing with greater diversity than even just 5 years ago. Specific degree courses focussing on the design process, marketing, PR, communications, branding, buying, merchandising or garment technology are all available at a wide range of universities.
Here is what to consider and how to pick the right course for you:
1. Is there an opportunity to intern/gain experience as part of your studies?
A lot of fashion courses these days offer the option to undertake a ‘sandwich year’ or ‘placement year’ and can be a great opportunity to gain vital industry experience to complement your studies. This usually means a 4 year degree course rather than 3 years and for some students being able to finance this would play a part in the decision, as does the possibility that you will have to relocate during that year.
2. Does the course have breadth and depth?
Whilst you have chosen a field to specialise in, it is important to gain knowledge of the many different aspects and areas of the fashion industry. Understanding a wider view of the industry alongside your chosen area will be an added bonus. Making visits to university open days and discussing the course structure and topics with lecturers will help you judge whether the particular course you are considering will achieve this.
3. Will you have the opportunity to experience guest lecturers and speakers from the industry?
It is crucial not only to learn the academic and technical side of the industry but to also hear from the current professionals in the field. Each course and university should expose you to experts who can provide up to date knowledge and share their experience, skills and challenges of working within the fashion industry.
4. How will you be assessed?
Whilst the number of fashion courses have proliferated, there is no standard means of assessment across universities. Consider how you learn best and what form of assessment will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding. Whether your skill set lies with coursework or exams, you should have this in mind when applying to universities. Investigate how your grades will be determined and pick a course that works in your favour thereby ensuring you achieve the best results possible.
5. What is the university and course employment rate?
Each university should showcase and publish their employment rate, i.e. how many people gain jobs in the industry within the first 6 months after graduating. Picking a fashion course that focuses on life after studying is really important. You want to feel confident your teachers and lecturers are preparing you for the working world.
6. What have previous students said about the course?
Does the course have a good reputation? Although you should always make your decision based on what is right for you, it is worth trying to gauge the reputation of the course and university. Could you contact some alumni students on LinkedIn and ask them for their opinion of the course? With so much choice, it may help to speak with someone either currently studying or someone who has since graduated from the course.
It is essential to make sure you have fully investigated a range of courses and universities before making an application. Prepare yourself with all the facts. Speak to a range of people either currently studying fashion or who have previously, for their advice and think hard about the type of studying you want to do, and of course, visit the university department to ask key questions.
Studying fashion is a wonderful opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the industry before going into a job but you should be aware that the fashion industry is a very competitive one, therefore, picking the right course is vital.
By contributing guest editor Hannah Rafter, founder and Editor In Chief of The Intern 247, a website dedicated to giving real insights into the world of fashion internships. @theintern247 theintern247.com
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