Maxine Clark - From college to university

January 1 2020
Maxine Clark

What foundation degree did I study and why?

I studied Three Dimensional Design. I wanted to study something with more of a focus on jewellery but those around me suggested that I take up a course that was broader but still focused on core design skills. My strength was my creativity and my making skills, atypical academic situations didn’t suit me but there are a lot of options out there to learn your way.

What was it like studying at the college?

I reflect on studying at Hertford Regional College as the best part of my education, the course was a great fit for me although it took the first year for me to really settle in. I learnt so many great skills that I still use now. All of the tutors and technicians are incredibly knowledgeable and love to talk about all aspects of design and creativity, get them talking and you’ll learn so much.

I was also a slightly older student, starting further education about two years later than everyone else. I was worried at first but I didn’t need to, as you can always relate to others through the course and not through age.

I moved up from the Isle of Wight and took up a room in a private landlord’s house, it was a real adventure and looking back I’m not sure how I picked up the courage to leave everything behind. I took a bus daily from Broxbourne to Ware and found lots of nice walks in the area plus it’s really easy to travel into London and felt very safe.

What was it like progressing on to a degree at Herts?

I fainted on my taster day at Herts, a great way to make a first impression but I’d already decided I’d like to go there. I’d always wanted to go straight to university and was a little sad that I had missed out on the first year of living in halls and freshers week (you can still go and get free pizza, I didn’t realise this at the time).

The transition for me was really cool as I wanted that student living environment and I viewed my new shared house for all of about 20 minutes. Yet it was also quite difficult as I went straight into the third year of my BA. I felt like I had the support I needed in my creative tutor, with loads of back and forth and constructive criticism but the most relatable support was from the others on the course.

My tips would be to go and examine the facilities, attend the graduate shows and talk to students on all different courses and the students in further education that have already completed the BA.

What was it like studying at Herts?

Studying my final year of my BA at Herts was fun, although I was trying to cram three years’ worth of university experience into 12 months - I wanted to socialise, play with different machines and materials, get into different events, try out different societies and focus on my studies. I really found my flow about four to six months in and made the most of the final six months, I was proud of my final collection.

I used the counselling service at the University, and they were incredibly sensitive to my needs and very helpful.

In the end, although I’m quite introverted, I still really enjoyed being dragged out by much more extroverted friends to the different bars around campus. Whether it was an event or music, or really long study sessions in the LRC, it was all great fun. I ended up meeting my boyfriend at an event and six years later we have our own house together.

After my degree

After my degree, I did feel a little bit lost. I wanted to push my practice further and I wanted to stay in Herts. I decided to investigate an MA and at the time you could get full support with a scholarship. I spent the next two years at Herts and worked at T K Maxx in the Galleria.

My transferable skills came mostly from my experience of work. University gave me organisation, resilience and logic skills and college gave me a lot of design thinking skills. I also made sure to seek help when I needed it, so please do look after yourself.

I kept an eye out for graduate schemes and jobs that merged my degree and retail experience as my MA came to an end. I found a position on Arts Jobs for a paid year at Cockpit Arts supported by the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme. I’m still at Cockpit now and loving my role.