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Stop telling me that fashion isn't a 'real' degree


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"So, what are you doing at uni?" As soon as the F-word falls out of my mouth it's met with shrivelled noses and suppressed laughter.

There's a huge misconception on what a degree in fashion communication consists of. Instagram? Selfies? Alexa Chung? A couple of photoshoots and makeovers here and there? We wish. We still have to do as much writing and research as you do on an 'academic' course. We write long essays, we cry over word counts, we sit through lectures and seminars - just like you. 

I remember thinking that doing a degree in fashion would be great, because I wouldn't have to do much reading. But how wrong was I? I'm lugging around textbooks that are 50 pages to a chapter with the tightly packed, never ending paragraphs in size 0.4 font. It's a misconception that all we read are magazines. I can't remember the last time I even read a fashion magazine without having to over analyse every single detail.

Time management is key, as us fashion students are usually working on around 3-4 different briefs or projects at once, with painfully close deadlines. Oh, that's the other thing - whilst some students are all getting drunk every night and missing lectures the next day, we're working towards the next deadline. We don't have exams at the end of the year that we can panic revise for. We've always got a deadline.

Don't get me wrong, fashion is a fun degree too. With every bit of research, and every contextual studies essay on hemlines through history, we get to do the odd photoshoot, or play with makeup, or prance around pretending we're Alexa Chung. Within our briefs we can do, to an extent, whatever the hell we want to do with it. And that's great. And that's also hard. But it's worth it in the end, because you get to create. You get to draw, you get to paint, you get to photograph and contribute to an industry that is worth £26 billion in the UK alone. This article isn't to scare you away from fashion. It's brilliant. But it's hard, and you can't see it as an 'easy way out' subject, or a simple degree that you'll just fly through because "it's just posting on Instagram, isn't it?" We. Wish.

Unfortunately you can't just waltz into the fashion industry and have a collection put on the fashion week catwalks immediately. You need knowledge, you need skills; ultimately, you need a degree. It's not to say that you can't make it without one, but it's way, way harder. There's always going to be someone willing to work harder than you, work for less than you, and so having a degree instantaneously sets you above those people.

As well as being creative, we have to have a lot of technical knowledge too. We need to have a high standard of English and maths. You can do a BSc in Fashion at University of Manchester, looking scientifically into materials and studying the psychology of the human brain.

Creative subjects are degrees too, and we all work bloody hard for them. The next time you start talking about how our degree is less important than yours, or not 'real', take a walk to the fashion department in your uni and no doubt you'll find an exhausted student sweating over a sewing machine, or working on the same photo in Photoshop for 6 hours, or frantically printing things out and sticking them in a sketchbook. You may find someone desperately trying to finish off their final dissertation, photocopying books for research, trying to get their head around Harvard referencing.

Sound familiar to you guys on academic, more 'credible' courses? It's not a competition; every student at university has a ridiculously large workload and we should all be respecting and encouraging each other rather than trying to insult and belittle.

Your degree is what YOU make of it, no matter what you study. My fashion degree IS a real degree. And I'm working hard for it. Just like everyone else. 

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