Surviving a University Fashion Interview, Applying & Portfolios by Collette Costello – Fashion Courses & Short Online Tutorials Series

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Applying to a Fashion University Course

Your at college, just starting your final year and now it is time to apply to university.  So where do you start?

  • In November a special UCAS universities fair is held in Manchester called “Create Your Future”, it is special creative arts one and universities from across the U.K attend.  At this fair you can learn about Fashion and Textile courses on offer, what grades you need and see the types of work students create.
  • Another fair to visit is Graduate Fashion Week, again you can see the standard of work coming out of the universities and often talk to students that actually study there.
  • Look on-line on the university web-sites at what courses they have on offer, be sure to attend their degree shows at the end of the year and finally sign-up for any tours of the universities, so you can check out the studios and facilities.
  • Fashion students usually want to do a degree at the top Fashion universities, Royal College, St Martins and Westminster University.  All are based in London, so when choosing your course you need to be realistic about can you afford to live in an area like London, could you afford to travel back home regularly, lots of other universities offer well respected Fashion degrees, so check all your options.
  • Types of Fashion Degrees are massively different so make sure you study one that will get you into the career that you want, they include Buying, Merchandising, Business Management, Fashion Promotion, Pattern Cutting, Fashion Design, Textiles, Commercial Textiles and Fashion Retail.  Check out my series “Surviving a Career in Fashion” for advice on what qualifications you need for different fashion jobs

Applying to Fashion at University Course

As a college fashion lecturer part of my job was to help students complete their UCAS form personal statements and get their portfolios ready for interview, so here are my top tips.

Applying to University

  • Apply to university through UCAS.  Usually application deadlines for the following year are January, however some are in March, so always check.
  • Many of my students never even got to interview stage, after a few weeks they got letters offering them a place on a university course based on them passing their course and their personal statement.
  • Remember to also apply for your student loan at Student Finance, as courses fees can be up-to £10,000 a year now.

What to Include in your Personal Statement

  • Golden rule always, always give examples to back up what you say in your personal statement, for example if you say you want to work in fashion, say which job you want and which company you want to work for.
  • Things to mention, why you are choosing that course, university, what you have learned at college, you main skills, what your work is like and designers that have inspired you, where you see yourself after university and what skills you hope to gain studying that degree course.

See my blog post, “Creating a Great Fashion Portfolio” in my Surviving a Career in Fashion Series for tips on how to put a portfolio together for interview.  

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Your Fashion Interview, What Questions to Expect!

It is the day of your interview, it maybe your first and nerves are kicking in, here is what to expect and some tips of making it go smoothly.  Remember the lecturers are more interested in you then your work, are you enthusiastic, do you have potential.  I have often seen less talent students offer places over better ones as they are able to speak confidently about themselves and fashion.

  • Plan to arrive at your interview a minimum of two hours before your allocated time, nothing to set you back in an interview then getting lost, flustered and being late.
  • You will either be interviewed as part of a group or on your own, sometimes you will be asked to put your portfolio in a room and asked to wait outside whilst the lecturers look at it.
  • You will then be invited into interview, I hate to say it but some lecturers are mean and can be a bit snooty, personally I think it is unnecessary, don’t take it personally and calmly follow instructions, answering questions.
  • The worst thing you can do in an interview is not know the answer to questions, so be prepared the night before the interview write a list of questions they may ask and answer them.
  • Lecturers will want you to be able to talk about your work, what was your inspiration, why and how you made the pieces of work.
  • You should know the names of designers, artists that you looked at and talk about what you like about their work.
  • Why you want to study that course and attend that university, what skills you want to learn and what job you want to do after, finally which companies you want to work for.
  • A big one to fall down on is, they will often ask what do you read so think fashion industry magazines like WGSN and Fashion blogs such as Susie Bubble.

Interview done, you will either be offered a place on the day or will get a offer in the post.  If at first your don’t succeed try again, the more interviews you do the better you get and the more confident.  If you are really nervous try role play interviews with your class mates or tutor first.  Good luck and if university is not for you check out alternative options at Not Going to Uni.

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