Hi, I’m Edward Cowderoy, and I'm studying Art and Design Level 3 at East Sussex College Eastbourne.
College life is a lot more freeing than what secondary school was. It allows you to, well, you take responsibility for your learning. The main difference between school and college is that at school, you had to turn up and your attendance was monitored. Your attendance is monitored at college, but the teachers care that you're here because you're the one who's putting the time in, you're the one who's chosen to learn your particular course.
At school, you were given a block of subjects, and you just had to go to all of them, even if you didn't like that subject. But with college, you've picked your course. You're the one who wants to study Electrical, or History, or Drama, or do A-Levels. You're the one who wants to do it - and that makes all the difference to your learning.
Since studying the Art and Design course and specialising in Textiles, I've learnt how to sew. Before the course, I had no clue. On my first day, I sewed my jacket to the machine. I didn't know what I was doing. But now, I'd say I'm semi-confident, and I can sew quite well. I never knew how to do screen printing or operate a heat press before either. But being able to use those pieces of machinery at college, and being guided by my tutors is brilliant. They're able to help me to develop certain techniques that I wouldn't otherwise know how to do. If you saw somebody doing it, you'd never know the name, you'd never know how to do it, or what steps you need to take to do it. The Internet is a brilliant thing, but you can't type in questions if you don't know what you're looking for. But having people who study it, know it, and live it, it's a world easier because they know what they're doing and they know all these techniques just by looking at it, and how it's done.
I'm able to show my tutors an item of clothing, and they'll instantly know how I can replicate it at college. And make one-off pieces too - not this mass production, huge scale of making thousands of clothes like some fashion brands do. You're able to use your skills to get the same look.
I've had some really great work experience so far. At the moment I'm working on a live brief, set by designers and brands in the industry. I recently worked on one for the Design Lab, where I had to upload my textile design. Last year, I worked on a brief for Levi's and created items to fit their brief. I also had the chance to work at the Brighton Sewing Center. I was there for three months and learnt how to do machine embroidery.
College is really helping me to get on the path that I want to be on. I've realised new ambitions and want to go to university. But before joining college, I had no idea what UCAS was. I was thrown in at the deep end. It was quite a painful thing to fill out, but it is one of the most helpful things possible. Every university is on there, and you're able to apply to multiple places all in one go. I've also been helped enormously by my tutors. They know the universities, and they know the places that they think are good for you. They know you as a person because they work alongside you, they help you with your work, they critique it. They know what work you produce, and that allows you to feel more comfortable with the work that you produce. So I completely trust them to recommend universities and courses that best suit me.
You soon start to realise that college is guiding you. Your tutors are guiding you and preparing you for your future, in my case, going to university. I just think that's some of the most important support out there because you don't want to go to university and it is the wrong choice.