Graduation is like a slowly deflating balloon

It’s Friday morning, it’s raining and I have nothing to do. After four weeks of working towards my last ever final university project, I’ve handed it in and successfully built those all important shelves I’ve been worrying about in my last blog.. now they just need to stay on the wall.

I expected that when I’d finally finished my 3 year degree I’d be excited, overjoyed even. Instead I feel a little sad and empty, a bit like a slowly deflating balloon. I am neither bobbing with the party atmosphere on the ceiling or sadly flopping on the floor. It’s a weird feeling. With every bit of happiness finishing my degree and moving on into the future, there is a sudden realisation that I have to leave so much behind as well.

It has dawned on me that I am losing a hell of a lot. There are the physical things I’ve lost; the studio, lectures and 10% discount on art materials. But they don’t mean much really, what I can’t buy or replace are my classmates and my tutors.

‘How’s your project going?’ or ‘Have you started your project yet?’ will no longer be what we talk about. It’s more likely to be conversations about babies and house prices in the years to come. The common connection linking us all together, working towards a shared common goal (to graduate) is over. It may seem pessimistic or negative, but it’s the truth.

But that feeling is so worth it. As some would say, it’s better to have experienced than not experienced at all, and for all the negative empty feelings at the moment, what I haven’t talked about is all I’ve gained and should be proud of to have experienced.

There’s a lot of focus on the importance of taking a course that has good graduate opportunities and getting a job afterwards, but absolutely no value is placed on how much we personally grow. Maybe we focused so much on the £9,000 tuition fees and the expense of getting a higher paid job that we fail to see the true value of the experience.

I for one I have gone into the university machine and come out a completely different person. Although we must take into account this was a bit of a malfunction due to the fact I went to art school and not a ‘normal’ academic university. None the less I am more confident, happier and a better person for it. Could I say a year ago that I would have the confidence to set up my own show, brand it, market it to the public and be on Sky News? Certainly not!

I seem to know myself a lot better, I now have likes and interests individual to me that sum up my unique creative identity, even if those interests are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and cats. Why do you need to know this? Because I want everyone to understand the true value of university before it’s too late.

We are entering 5 years of a Tory Government, the value of an average university experience may completely change.. and if you haven’t guessed it’s not for the better. With a potential rise to £11,500 uncapped fees and reforms to Visa’s for international students, the cost of a place at university will once again be the main focus.

As well as this, the attacks on the arts as a subject have already begun with the appointment of John Wittingdale as the new culture secretary, a right-wing Conservative backbencher, oh and he’s homophobic if it wasn’t already bad news. It doesn’t stop there, Nicky Morgan our education secretary was gearing up for an attack on the humanities deeming them useless in comparison to the much more impressive subjects of Maths and Science.

It appears creativity and individuality will not be the priorities of our current government, let alone given any value in the future of universities. With David Cameron wanting an education system more similar to Chinese, it’s lucky we don’t end up as overworked robots. If we are not already of course.

Fetch me some WD-40 and a spanner, I sense it’s going to be a long 5 years!

Goodbye for now.

Brighton Graphic Design and Illustration Show

Class of 2015, Graphic Design and Illustration graduate show coming soon.
Photograph: Eugene Noble

Holly Macdonald is a political agony aunt for Kollektiv Gallery.

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