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  • Writer's pictureJenny Anderson

And it all came to an end

My closest college friends and two of my lecturers

So...its been a while since I wrote a wee blog post, all I can say is life took over! My last post was composed before my college work started to get serious, so I had much more time on my hands. I was freshly back from a holiday, having had a nice break from my final year hand-ins, then I came home and realised that I actually had a shit ton of work to do - oops. Despite the bloods, sweat, tears, stress, psychotic turns, copious amounts of peanut butter, 16274905 pritt-sticks, breakdowns and chocolate - I did it! All I want to do is celebrate and cry happy tears (believe me I've done plenty of both already) but I wanted to take the time to tell you all about my little college and studying journey. It may not be interesting for many of you, but I feel it could help those in a similar situation.

School. I have always been told that the school years are meant to be the best of your life. That statement may be true for some, but for me, it is probably the biggest pile of poop ever. It is only now, that I am leaving college, that I realise that it was OK for me to dislike school. It was OK to drop out, and in the end it was the best thing I could have done for myself. My experience is not one I like to talk about, and I hate to 'glamourise' a situation or 'attention seek'; saying this I know people who felt the same, so if I knew I could help someone it would really make my day.

For those of you who do not know, I dropped out of my secondary school in fourth year. This is the earliest stage of secondary that you can drop out. I am unsure whether it is a national or even international stereotype, but certainly where I am from dropping out at this stage has an extremely negative stigma around it. A lot of people leave school unsure of what they want to do, but from an early age I KNEW I wanted to study photography. After I had sat my Standard Grades, I saw no point in continuing to Highers which would not help me at all with the course I had set in my sights. It was an easy choice, made easier by the fact I absolutely could not stand school. My experience was by far not the worst, and I want to highlight that fact. A combination of only a few unsupportive, negative and quite honestly horrid teachers, mix up and loss of friends (who I am now firm friends with again, you guys are ace) and just being your typical 16 year old girl led to a very low period of my life. A lot of mornings I would wake up and find myself in tears at the thought of being in the social situation of school. At that stage I knew I could not carry on with something that was making such a hugely negative impact on my self-esteem, life and happiness. So I made a change, did my research, and moved on. And like I said previously, this was definitely the best decision I could have made. A lot of people hate school, in fact, I am sure at least every student has said those very words at least once in their life. In no way am I actively encouraging people to quit at school because they do not 'like' it, but I feel the need to stress the fact that just because school isn't for you, doesn't make you a 'drop-out' or a 'failure'. The learning system in school is very different from college and university, if you do not find yourself excelling in one area, it does not mean to say you will feel the same in another. Everyone is different.

Now that I compared my college experience to my school experience, the differences are quite frightening. In school, I constantly felt like I was being treated as a child, an immature child at that. In my opinion this did not give me the space to grow up and become the young woman I was. At college, I was treated as an equal and an adult. My lecturers respected me and worked with me to help me reach new goals. At school I just felt like there was no real drive to learn; my enthusiasm was at rock bottom. I had a few school teachers who would give me all of time and attention, and they really, truly were good at what they did. However, I also had a handful that had a hugely negative impact on my learning and growing. Again, these were all my own experiences and I know a lot of people my age felt completely differently about school. Saying this, I truly feel that my confidence and self-esteem grew the moment I left.

Within a few weeks of finishing my final exams, I gained my first part time job. In college, we were pretty much left to our own means, everything was done independently. Of course we had guidance but we had to do things for ourselves. Instead of memorising things to pass an exam, I was learning new skills and putting them into practise. For me, this system worked miles better.

Everything was more relaxed. I felt like my lecturers were my friends as well was my tutors. This made the learning environment enjoyable and relaxing. We spoke to our lecturers using their first names, we shared jokes, we didn't have to wait until our breaks to use the toilet (a rule at my old school which still seems absolutely crazy to me) and most important of all - all my lecturers actually gave a shit about what they were doing. Their enthusiasm was so clear that it inspired a whole class of students to move forward with their work. Unlike school, I woke up in the morning looking forward to my days at college. Well, not always, I mean nobody really wants to get up early on a Monday morning; but you get the idea.

One of my boards at my Exhibition Opening Night

So, things just got deep. I am sure a lot of you couldn't give a toss about anything I was trying to explain, but hopefully some of you did. If you are considering leaving school for similar reasons, do it. I didn't look back. I am now in a position I never thought I would be in, and I am happier than I have ever been. For the first time in my life, I actually feel proud of myself - and it feels great. And this is all thanks to the photography department; Steve, Karen, Colin and Russ - you guys rock!

Before I end this post, I'd like the make a small shoutout.

I sincerely hope that my school teachers 'who may not be named' I spoke of above somehow see this post. I would really like you to know that I left North East Scotland College with an A in my Photography HND, I was lucky enough to win Best Work on the Wall at my Exhibition Open night, and I came runner up in the BIPP College Awards - so yeah, thanks for not believing in me, it turns out a did a better job without your support anyway!

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