My name is Luke and I’m a fourth-year student at Loughborough University. I started my Loughborough journey by completing an Art Foundation Course at the University before moving onto my Undergraduate Course, studying Graphic Communication & Illustration.
I was attracted to Loughborough University because of the atmosphere on the Open Day. Before going to this, I was unsure if I wanted to go to university. I had looked around some other universities, but I didn’t feel any sort of connection with them. Loughborough was actually the last university I was looking at; it was recommended to me by a Sixth Form teacher.
I went to both the talks for the Art Foundation Course and the Undergraduate Course I was interested in. At both, the lecturers gave very engaging presentations, and both made me want to study with them. From that day, I knew that Loughborough was a university where I could feel comfortable and welcomed.
I found that before coming to university, I didn’t have any particular worries and concerns. I worried more generally about university life because I didn’t know what to expect so there was nothing in particular that I could worry about. I found that during the summer holidays prior to starting, I would come up with strategies in my head so that if anything did come up to worry me then I would know what to do.
A lot of things surprised me when I came to university, both in terms of my course and university life. University is very different to how it is portrayed in some types of media. Some things that surprised me became more normal over time, while others faded away. University life can be tailored to how you want it to be though, so if something surprises you negatively, don’t think that you have to go along with it.
The first few weeks were hard for me as I was trying to adjust to a new routine. I think that all students find it hard in the beginning. It is important to keep communicating with those close to you, either at university and/or at home, because by telling others how you feel they can help you to find solutions to your problems.
For a lot of students such as myself, university can be a daunting prospect. Before arriving, there were times where I was unsure if I would be able to cope due to my Asperger’s. However, I knew that I liked the campus and was still strongly considering coming. Having the extra year before my Undergraduate Course allowed me to feel comfortable on campus and establish a routine. It was also the time when I met a lot of my closest friends on campus.
The thing that helped me the most when coming to university was doing a Foundation Year Course before my Undergraduate Course. To any students that are considering going to Loughborough University but are unsure, I would highly recommend applying for one of their Foundation Courses to see if university life and higher education are right for you. If not, you can then seek other options instead of being tied to a further 2-3 years that you may not enjoy.
I think that there is a myth that Foundation Courses are easy and aren’t worth considering. However, I received three A* grades in my A Levels and I still found my Art Foundation Course to be challenging and enjoyable. I learnt many skills too that I have brought into my degree work as well. It is an option that I would recommend to anyone looking to come to Loughborough University but who is unsure if university life is right for them.
I then chose to study Graphic Communication & Illustration because I like creating work that communicates with people. I don’t like creating work for myself, I prefer to answer more rigid client briefs where I need to achieve specific aims. As I have progressed through my course, I have worked with numerous Students’ Union associations too which has also shown me how much I like working with clients to visualise their ideas.
I like that on my course, I feel as though I am a part of a community rather than a course. I have always felt that Art education is a little different in that we often work in more collaborative spaces - there is more of an emphasis on sharing ideas and working together to achieve a common aim of solving a brief.
There is not only a good atmosphere between students but with staff as well. I like that the tutors know who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I have known some members of staff since Art Foundation Year and they have been able to see me grow as a creative individual. They give me advice tailored more towards my strengths and push me to expand my existing knowledge.
My favourite project was one I completed last year where I had to create a series of three posters that highlighted an issue in an LEDC. My posters where exploring the issue of malaria and how people could protect themselves against it.
I enjoyed this project because it was the first time that I ever completed a piece of graphics that was more ‘socially-beneficial.’ A lot of the work that I do now is more in line with this, this summer I have been learning about inclusive design and how I can make my graphics more accessible to people with disabilities. I look back to that project as the origin of my passion for work like this.
I have received plenty of support from both my department and the University. In my department, my tutors are easy to contact and are always willing to provide guidance when it is requested. The University has also provided me with an outstanding level of support too. Alongside Disability Support Allowance (DSA), the University has been able to provide me with both a study skills mentor and a support mentor for my Asperger’s. Both have been highly important to my time at University, allowing me to flourish academically and socially.
I think that the most important thing for first year of university is to establish a routine. With all the freedom that university provides, it is very easy to get into a cycle of slacking off and then getting into stressful situations with deadlines. I think that once you have established a good routine, you then know when your busy and free periods are. The free periods can then be maximised to make the most of time that you have, to get a healthy balance between work and leisure.
My favourite thing about being a Loughborough student is that I feel proud of my university. In the past, I have always felt satisfied with where I have been but have never had a strong sense of devotion or affiliation towards where I am. There is definitely something about Loughborough though that makes you want to be a part of the community and draws you to want to do your best for both yourself and the university. I will always cherish the time that I have had here – it has been a privilege.