A Fresher’s Guide To Getting Into An Arts University

An honest guide to getting into university.

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These articles were written and submitted by young people across Kent, between August 2016 and July 2019. We are no longer adding new articles or maintaining old ones. Read more about Art31.

I’m an ex-member of ART31 and I am currently about to start studying BA (Hons) Print and Time Based Media at UAL Wimbledon College of Art. Here are my useful hints and tips for making it into an Arts University.

1) Don’t feel like your final grades determine your future. Most universities will base it on the strength of your portfolio and if they don’t – then the University isn’t worth it.
2) You don’t need 5 or more GCSEs at grades A* to B to get into Uni, as long as you have passed English and Maths you will be okay.
3) Whilst we are talking about GCSEs, I don’t have GCSE Art. So don’t worry about not having subject related GCSEs.
4) Honestly, I believe that BTECS or UAL qualifications are more worthwhile for the arts. You will get to spend a lot more time on your subject and it means you won’t have to do a foundation degree after A-Levels as doing a Level 3 qualification will take your work to a much higher standard.
5) Experience is vital (the schools aren’t just making it up). I feel that the more subject specific experience you can get in the real world, the more universities will pay attention to you. It shows you are passionate and hard-working to get to where you want to be.
6) Extra-curricular activities can be helpful. Falmouth University accepted me because I took Modern Jazz Dance at Hasland Dance Studios and it showed that I have the confidence to do presentations in front of the class.
7) For the slightly more elitist Universities, Oxford and Cambridge, they will judge you more harshly. I applied to Oxford and they wanted a clear, concise, well thought out portfolio that showed how I wanted to progress as an artist. Then, if you are lucky enough, you will be put onto a selection weekend. So, if you are thinking of applying to these universities, use the summer after your first year of college to think about your portfolio.
8) The deadline for Oxford and Cambridge applications is 15th October, so start your personal statement early. Time will fly by!
9) When you get to the interview process, try not to be nervous and know your work inside and out as they may well pick pieces of your work to talk about. You don’t want to get caught out if you do not know what to say!

And lastly,
10) Speak with passion! Going through the education system can be de-moralising but if you can show how much you love your chosen subject then you will be almost guaranteed a place.


Image: Campus – image credit Steph Cabell (campuslivingutk)