Blog originally posted on: 8/7/2015 I studied fashion full time for five years at three different colleges. In the past six years I have taught either pattern cutting, garment construction or design at seven colleges at various levels from absolute beginner to budding designers at degree level. Not all colleges are the same and choosing the right organisation to help achieve your goals is very important, (e.g. If you want pursue a very creative or ‘Avant Garde’ route, then choosing a college whose focus on the commercial side of fashion will not be a good fit and vice versa).
Always visit the potential college and ask LOTS of questions!
Talk to the students.. NOT the ones the college select as examples on an open day - they will only tell you what the organisation want you to hear. Try to speak to students as you move around the college.
Questions you should ask include:
How many students will be in each class (count how many sewing machines are in the machine room, if there are less than the amount of students in the class be aware that this will cause access issues during future sessions).
Example: If there are thirty students and one tutor, how many technicians are available? There are a lot of hands-on technical skills that you need to learn for fashion, one person cannot fully support thirty students.
How many guided learning hours will there be?
What resources are provided by the college? Be aware that not all sites have library or computer access.
If the college says it has Computer Aided Design (CAD) resources, ask how regularly you will have access to them. On the tour for my Higher National Diploma course (HND - now known as a Foundation Degree), I was shown a pattern cutting CAD system. During the course we given access to use the systems for two short modules twice in the two years of the course. As a class, we left without the relevant CAD skills needed to empower us in finding work once we graduated.
For levels 2 and 3, ask how many students progress to higher levels.
For level 4, 5 and 6 ask how many graduates have gone on to find PAID work in the fashion industry, excluding retail.
One last thing! Remember if you choose to do a fashion course it is NOT an easy option. Garment construction equipment and materials, art equipment, the requisite books and stationary... A Fashion course is not cheap. I have seen FAR too many students overwhelmed by what is involved in doing a fashion course.
You will be learning a wide range of disciplines and you will also have to write about your work. If you think this is the route you want to take, I recommend trying out a short course to see if it is what you really really want (yes, I just quoted the Spice Girls ! )
Some colleges that might interest you.
Highest ranking Universities for fashion in the UK.