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ArtyHelen
11-10-2003, 07:15 AM
I'm 34, mum to an 11 year old, and have been a "homemaker" for all of those 11 years. I am a self-taught artist, but lately I feel like I've hit a bit of a brick wall and learned as much as I can teach myself, and need some guidance as to what will be available to me when my son is 16 and I need to work.

So I am seriously considering going to Art University College to get a National Diploma in Fine Art. (I then may consider doing a Degree in Fine Art.) I want to be taken seriously when I look for art orientated work - I don't want to be seen as "housewife with a little hobby", so I feel some qualification will show commitment and will surely help me on my way?

But I'm scared, and also hopelessly in the dark about what to really expect.

So, are there any mature students who can tell me how they managed to adapt to college life after being a 'stay-at-home-mum' for several years?

And is there anyone out there, mature or otherwise, who can answer the following questions for me?


What time does the college day start and finish? (I'm in the UK.)
How do I create a portfolio? Must I have original paintings and drawings, or can I take a little album of photos? How many pieces should there be in my portfolio? etc
How tough was your initial interview? Should I be as nervous as I feel when I think about it?!
Do you apply for financial help BEFORE you enrol, or do you wait until you have a definite place first?
Is there a specific month when you start college, or can you start at different times throughout the year?


Sorry I'm so ignorant. :(

Thanx a lot for any thoughts, advice or encouragement you might have for this old lady who wants to go back to school! ;)

Helen

sandge
11-10-2003, 08:05 AM
Helen, I've just seen your note in the Cafe. I have to go out now for the afternoon and may not be back til late but I will definitely be back.

The quick version of it, though, is: go for it! :D :D :D

anney
11-10-2003, 08:19 AM
Hello Helen,

I'll be 34 at the end of the month, so I felt it was qualifying to give you some support. I am currently jobless, and I started some further financial education a year ago, so in a sense I am a mature student too!

The world is running faster than it used to be, and I think it is more and more comon that pepole have to go back to study at our age. A friend of mine, 35, mother of 2 children (7 and 2) just started the nurse school!

I've asked www.google.com to search for me for "National Diploma in Fine Art" UK (include the quotes - replacing UK by your town is probably better) and I found that link very useful:

http://www.arts-inst-bournemouth.ac.uk/aj/coursehtmls/ndip-fine.html

Their website looked very useful:
http://www.arts-inst-bournemouth.ac.uk/aj/home/home.html
(especially Money Matters in the student section).

If I were you, I would look for the nearest art institute, carefully read their website and just go there to ask all the questions (even better i they have open days like in Bournemouth) !

As for interviews, etc. you have to be well prepared, the best thing would be to get in contact with a jury member from another institute to train you (my friend did it and she had an outstanding note at the interview).

JUST DO IT!

Anne.

ArtyHelen
11-10-2003, 08:52 AM
sandge - thanx, and see you later today! ;) :)

Anne - thanx for the encouragement and for looking that up for me! I have chosen a college, "The Surrey Institute of Art & Design", and received their booklet, but it didn't answer any of my questions above... I didn't really want to show my ignorance by asking them some of the questions, but of course you're right that they are the people to ask! So I just sent an email with the questions about the times, portfolio, etc.

The booklet really makes me want to get started there, but at the same time I am so hopelessly 'out of routine' that I don't know how I'll cope with the 'daily grind'... And I'm naturally shy, and feel even more so because I've lived within four walls away from the outside world for so long... :( Also, I don't want to set the wheels in motion and then find that I've done it just because I was going through a transient period of feelings... You know what I mean - when you suddenly wake up and think, " :eek: Aggghh! Why the heck did I do this?!! I was perfectly happy with my little reclusive life!!" LOL :D

So I'm trying to think it thru very carefully, and find everything out, and then hopefully have a little time to make sure I'm really comfortable with the idea, for the right reasons and with the right attitude...

Helen

anney
11-10-2003, 09:13 AM
Originally posted by ArtyHelen
So I just sent an email with the questions about the times, portfolio, etc.
Well done, people answering to administrative requests are not necessarily members of the jury and anyway asking questions shows interest! Bournemouth indications on portfolio were looking nice, but all school don't necessarily have the same policy.


Aggghh! Why the heck did I do this?!! I was perfectly happy with my little reclusive life!!"
Well you may also think about entering a convent. ;)

Considering the age of your son, I thing it is just the rigth time to go for it!

Anne.

PhilC
11-10-2003, 12:37 PM
Hey there Old friend. Been ther and done that.:D :D :D

Helen your going to be fine. Ok so it is a big step to take. You are whaere I was 10 years ago. was scared to death when I filled out that app for collage. was also 34. Had worked all my life until that point.

I had to drive 30 miles one way each day to class. The frist day I was so scared that I was shaking, and was ready to get baack in to the car and come home. As those that have meet me, can tell ya. I not a little guy, and not much really scares me. I had thos same fears that you are having now.

fear of the unkonwen. Once you get to your frist class you well see it not as bad as you thought it was going to be. Truist me you will fit right in. and if older students in the UK are like the ones here. they tend to do better in School than the younger ones.

Helen remember we are here for ya. But everything is going to be fine.

Have to go being rushed out the door.

mebo
11-10-2003, 12:57 PM
I agree, Helen, you should do it. I went back to college, then on to lawschool when I was 36. I had 4 (yes, four) children at home. Organization became a big part of our life!

If when you get in, and you've given it a fair trial, and you absolutely hate it, you can always quit and go home.

Give it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Marian

ShivaWolf
11-10-2003, 02:28 PM
Must be something about the age of 34.....Thats how old I was when I decided to go to college and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world!! A lot of the students were traditional, right out of high school, but there was a lot that were older-giving me the confidence I so badly needed.
Some advice...hook up with clubs, sign up to do things with other students...become involved!! I made so many friends that way. Prior to this I was very much to myself. I did work full time and had 2 children but not much else was going on. I joke about it now and say it was my midlife crisis....maybe it was...it was worth it!! I fell in love with the art studio-working all hours of the night :p
I only got flak from one person in my first year. It was in a writing class....I had no typing skills and no computer skills....this was the class that really changed my life!! My Prof was a big time computer geek!!( I learned to love computers in large part due to him.) His class discussion was in the form of typing in a virtual reality. The one kid that gave me flak ...he made some wry comment about my age, told me I was too old to learn and since I showed no typing skill I should just give it up and leave! huh!!....little did he know that his words were never forgotten and it made me determined to become proficient at typing and learn and to become the computer geek I am today! :angel:
I could write all day about the benefits of going back to school and how much you could get out of it....do it, just go for it!!

katcocat
11-10-2003, 03:50 PM
Hi Helen, Just wanted to say Go For It! and tell you some of my experience of being a mature student. I was 26 when I went to Uni - to do a B.SC in Sociology. My youngest daughter was 3 months old and still being breast fed when I started my first term. I also had two other daughters who were 10 and 6. I'll admit that I was absolutely terrified, didn't have a clue what to expect, or what was expected of me. Thought that everyone there would be 18 and just out of school, and apart from anything else, they would all be far more intelligent than I was. For the first couple of months, my husband came to uni with me, lol. He'd take the baby to the park whilst I was in lectures and then meet me afterwards so I could feed her. Not the best way to meet friends and settle in, but I did get through it. I also made a lot of friends. I think the biggest surprise was how many other mature students there were, of all ages and from all backgrounds. This was brilliant because it meant we could share common fears, and common problems - running a household and looking after kids whilst doing a degree. Most universities today welcome mature students with open arms and will bend over backwards to help them make the transition. They all have mature student societies for example and it's well worth going along to them. Mature students are known to work harder, have more experience of life and usually have more general knowledge. They have less of a drop out rate, always a good thing as far as the Uni is concerned.
It isn't easy, I'm not for a moment going to pretend that it is, but you'll never regret making the decision to go. You'll slip into the routine really quickly. Universities differ, and I'm not sure how yours works but most Uni's have an academic year which runs from Sept to June. This is divided up into either three terms (like the schools) or two semesters with breaks of approximately a month at Xmas and Easter, and then a long break at summer. Unlike the schools, there is no half term at Uni, though many will put a 'reading week' in place. (Supposedly a chance for you to do all your research and reading, instead of having to attend lectures and tutorials.) When you get to uni, you'll be given a personal tutor. GET TO KNOW THIS PERSON!!! This is your first port of call for any questions or problems you might have. The personal tutor will also deal with the uni and other tutors on your behalf if you need them to. If you meet them and take an instant dislike, ask to be assigned to another tutor, you may feel more comfortable with a female tutor for example. Join as many societies and groups as you can, it's a great way to meet people and you can always drop out of them if they don't suit you. I think another important thing to remember is that in reality, you are paying the university to provide you with a service. If you're not happy with any aspect of that service then you have the right to do something about it. I once had a class with a lecturer who was obnoxious, rude and a blatent mysoginist. Several of us complained, and when the complaint's were upheld , the uni found us another lecturer. What's interesting about this I think, is that it was the mature students who complained. The younger students didn't feel confident enough too. Being a mature student has it's advantages!
I had a great time at Uni, and went on to do a Masters degree a couple of years after I'd finished. I've never regretted it for all that it was really hard work. Hope this helps, feel free to pm me if you have any questions.
Kate

sandge
11-10-2003, 08:34 PM
Went to see the Olafur Eliasson installation at the Tate Modern. :)

I went to art college as a mature student late 80s/early 90s so some things might have changed. For example, I did my degree at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham which I think is now part of the Surrey Institute.

Hours
At that time, they were running 3 terms similar to school terms but not quite as long. Back then the hours were flexible. You got a studio space and they liked you to use it but you could come and go. I think the studios opened from about 8am or 9am and stayed open til about 6.30pm or 7pm. There were a couple of lectures a week on history of art and contextual studies which were part of the written element of my degree. But unless you had one of those, or an appointment with your tutor, you could really come and go as you pleased. BUT you've got to put in the work, obviously.

Portfolio
Take the actual work. Take as much as you can - provided it is strong work. Before I did my degree, I spent a year at Wimbledon School of Art doing a foundation course. I was told that it would be very difficult to get onto a degree without having done a foundation. I've not heard of the National Diploma - is it the same as a foundation? Part of the job of a foundation course is to get you onto a degree so they advised on what to take and what to write on the forms. To get onto the foundation course, I found Wimbledon ran evening classes in life drawing and portfolio preparation so I went on those. Looking back at what I've just written makes me realise that, without really planning it, I was going on courses to get me onto other courses. I think this was good as it got me into the system, so to speak.

Interview
Your portfolio does a lot of the work of getting you in. I don't remember much about my interview for Farnham except for one thing. I had been doing a lot of cubist/futurist inspired abstracty stuff at Wimbledon. I was asked at the interview what I thought about vorticism. I knew enough to know this was the English version but I didn't know that much about it. So I thought I'd try to steer the interview onto something I knew about and said something like, 'Vorticism is ok. But on the whole I prefer futurism.' :rolleyes: LOL! The guy said, 'Well, at least you know what it is.' Anyway, the point is that at a degree interview you may be asked to talk about your work and possibly put it into some sort of theoretical context. And they'll likely ask about your goals for coming on the course.

Finances
Can't remember anything about that application process but that's all changed since then, anyway.

Application times
Now is a good time to be thinking about all this. When I applied, both for foundation and degree, the applications had to be made early spring - February-ish, I think - and the interviews happened around Easter for entry into the course starting September. So, you've got time to work on that portfolio and maybe get on a portfolio preparation course. The other thing you should think about doing is getting some magazines like Art Review, Modern Painters, AN [artists newsletter] and Time Out (if you're near enough to London).

Stray thoughts
I remember being struck by the immaturity of those who had not yet left the education system. That took a bit of getting used to. The other thing was that everyone kept asking why you were doing everything - why did you come to art college? why did you choose that subject? why are you painting it? It might have saved me a lot of time if, when I'd been working in a bank, I'd been asked to question my motivation for being there!

Some aspects of art college were very tough. I remember some of the crits being very harsh - they didn't hold back or try to spare your feelings. And if you got upset, they'd say that you'd have to get used to criticism if you were going to make it as an artist. Nonsense, of course. It did, nevertheless, set up a certain hostile environment. It took me about 3 years to get over art college before I could paint properly again - I am still in touch with some of my fellow students and we inevitably end up talking about why they put us through that and how awful the art college experience was! :D

I sometimes wonder why I went to art college because I don't think I'm painting very differently from how I would be if I'd never gone. But going to college has given me a knowledge of art history and the theoretical basis of art movements. This means that I can put my work in context and talk about why I'm doing what I'm doing knowing that I did explore other possibilities. It means that I can talk about why a piece of torn paper by Sol Lewitt (if I remember correctly ;) ) might be considered an important piece of art even if I don't like it myself. It has also given me an honours degree (that may open up certain career possibilities for you). I have found that people - other artists, galleries, buyers - do often ask where I studied.

In conclusion
Even though some of it was very tough, I think art college was a very important step for my development as an artist. So, that's why I say, Go for it! :D

janetpoole
11-11-2003, 08:01 PM
Dear Helen

I am 54 and am halfway through a part time BA Fine Art - Painting at the University of Hull.

I can only advise you to go for it, but research your college before you apply. Ring up and chat to the art tutors, or go and have a look round.

It is no good going to a college that encourages conceptual art and installations if you want to paint representational narrative paintings. Some colleges are very directional, others (like the one I go to) are happy to encourage students in whatever direction they choose to go in.

I wanted to make more interesting paintings, and have really enjoyed being stretched. There are people of all abilities on my course, but everyone has something different to offer, and we all learn immensely from each other.

Have confidence in your own abilities, and don't be intimidated! Most UK University colleges start in September, so start accumulating a portfolio now to show off what you can do, and look for a college that suits your aims and objectives.

Good luck and take courage!

Janet

ricky
11-12-2003, 04:42 AM
I'm 54 now, but went to college starting at 34, and am echoing all of the wise PhilC's and other's comments. Very scary at first, but just do it in spite of yourself. After the first few weeks, a lot of the fear will wear off. It's a great experience. It took me 11 years to get my degree (I was definitely in the slow lane), but I will never regret the time spent. Just shrug off the uncertainties and walk forward, you will quickly learn to control your self-consciousness...

Don't feel like you are the lone ranger. You can go slow, that's okay too. GOOD LUCK!!!!:cat: :clap: :cat: :clap: :cat:

ArtyHelen
11-13-2003, 06:11 AM
Oh, thank you all SO much! :D

You got me all fired up, and gave me things to think about that wouldn't otherwise have occured to me and I thank you all SO much! :D

After writing this post, I went round in circles trying to find everything out and worrying about the financial help and where to get it, etc. In the end, the lady at the College that I'd been emailing coaxed me into phoning her for a chat, and I've just got off the phone. :D

I'm not doing the National Diploma now - they have a special Access to Higher Education Course which is only ONE year and allows me to go on to a Degree then if I pass!! Whoopeeee!! :D And it's aimed at the mature student and those without formal qualifications who haven't studied for years, starting slowly, but then doing the serious work that the young 'uns are doing as well!! How cool is that?!!!! AND the tuition fees will be waived due to my circumstances!! :D

The form is on its way, and the interview is in January, so I have until then to get a portfolio together... :)

I am sooooooooooo excited!!!! :clap:

MANY thanx to you ALL once again!

(But I'm just going to give sandge a sly slap for daring to mention the Sol LeWitt thing... ;) LMAO :D

Helen

soso
11-13-2003, 07:31 AM
Dear Helen

We all have to start somewhere. One of Australias leading artsits was a women who started in her 50's. Rosalie Gascoigne. She made beautiful assembeges. Her background was Ikebana.

Janet Mansfield, one of Australia's internationally known potters also started at this age in potting at the local TAFE.

You do need to be professional in your work and relations with galleries. I will send you a chapter from my book 'Portfolio Preparation for the Artist' It is available at http://www.artnews.com.au/aaart/gallery

Hope this has some helpful advice for you

ArtyHelen
11-13-2003, 08:02 AM
Thanx for that, Sophi! I didn't even know I needed to include a CV in my portfolio! :eek:

Helen

poppymiller
11-16-2003, 09:59 AM
ArtyHelen, Hi there! I am a beginning artist and am 61 years old. I just put in my application to a local college and plan on obtaining a second degree in art. Now, I want to share with you that at age 34 (must be a magic number) I did go to college and graduated with a BS in business. It is easier and harder at an older age. It's easier because you are more focused and perhaps more driven! It can be more difficult because of responsibilities to family, work etc. Go for it, you'll never regret it.
Poppy

MS_Triple
11-18-2003, 01:41 AM
"It's only too late if you don't start today."

Barbara Sher

jeaberg
12-05-2003, 01:11 PM
I'm lovin' the age 34 ties here. I'm 33 and am about to start filling out my applications for an MFA for the fall when I will be... 34!

My scary problem is that I have a 10 month old now. I'm hoping to find grants and scholarships to help pay for daycare and some tuition.

It's been really nice to read everyone's posts, because when you start reading the college websites and app's, they are intimidating. It's easy to imagine all of these young, confident students running around, with nothing complicating their lives...:)

Toadie
12-12-2003, 02:21 PM
I feel very much the same way you do, except I am 50.:) But hey what am I gonna loose now hehehehe
Michelle

solipsist1
12-14-2003, 03:25 AM
Well I may not be a "mature" student (only 27, but have 2 kids, one 6yrs and the other 1yr) but I think it qualifies. I had the same questions when I started a couple of years ago, so don't feel bad. I had been in and out of the military, worked construction, worked in the medical field, etc.
I am not sure how things work in the UK, but in the US, if you just call schools most of the time they are more than willing to answer questions. I know here it depends on where you go to school, whether or not it is private or not, as to how things work. In terms of what to expect, I had no idea and just jumped in head first. It was a little overwhelming at first and I felt like I didn't know anything (no art education since grade school), but I put in the time and frustration at times and persevered. I am now only a year and a half from graduating. All I have to say is that it has been the best thing I have ever done.

For a portfolio, most often places seem to want slides. The new thing now also is a digital portfolio where it is just digitial photos put on a disk. Again it depends on where you are sending it as to what they want.

Good luck!

VanGoghsEar
12-19-2003, 10:55 PM
Originally posted by ArtyHelen
I'm 34, mum to an 11 year old, and have been a "homemaker" for all of those 11 years. I am a self-taught artist, but lately I feel like I've hit a bit of a brick wall and learned as much as I can teach myself, and need some guidance as to what will be available to me when my son is 16 and I need to work.

So I am seriously considering going to Art University College to get a National Diploma in Fine Art. (I then may consider doing a Degree in Fine Art.) I want to be taken seriously when I look for art orientated work - I don't want to be seen as "housewife with a little hobby", so I feel some qualification will show commitment and will surely help me on my way?

But I'm scared, and also hopelessly in the dark about what to really expect.

So, are there any mature students who can tell me how they managed to adapt to college life after being a 'stay-at-home-mum' for several years?

And is there anyone out there, mature or otherwise, who can answer the following questions for me?


What time does the college day start and finish? (I'm in the UK.)
How do I create a portfolio? Must I have original paintings and drawings, or can I take a little album of photos? How many pieces should there be in my portfolio? etc
How tough was your initial interview? Should I be as nervous as I feel when I think about it?!
Do you apply for financial help BEFORE you enrol, or do you wait until you have a definite place first?
Is there a specific month when you start college, or can you start at different times throughout the year?


Sorry I'm so ignorant. :(

Thanx a lot for any thoughts, advice or encouragement you might have for this old lady who wants to go back to school! ;)

Helen


Hi Helen,

Think I might be able to help. I'm in the first year of my Fine Art degree at Belfast Art College.

I'm 36 now but set out on this road two years ago when I decided to apply for a place on the Art and Design Foundation Course. That is the course you need to apply to as you won't be accepted directly onto a Fine Art course, even with a good portfolio, competition is very high.

This course is run by art colleges and also some Higher Education Colleges. It is a full-time course but I was only required to attend 20 hours per week. I had to go 5 days a week usually from nine to one o'clock.

The course covers all disciplines within Art and Design and opens up all kinds of possibilities for specialisation when you start your degree. This is a Diploma Course but the real purpose behind it is to help you compile a strong portfolio of work before you apply for your place on a degree course.

I too thought long and hard before taking this step but I can almost guarantee that you won't regret taking the plunge.

As I said competition is pretty high when it comes to the degree course, Surrey Uni will be able to give you statistics related to that. You can apply for up to 6 courses at art college so you shouldn't have a problem getting in, once you are in you can transfer between courses if you are not happy.

If things are really bad you take leave of absence - when this happens you can leave the course and come back at the same point anytime within five years. Don't be scared to take the plunge, Universities offer all kinds of advice and assistance to students.

Don't worry about your age, you won't be the oldest student, I guarantee it, colleges are well aware that mature students make better Fine Art students and your age will be a plus point when it comes to interview.

All courses start in September and you should have your finance sorted before you start.

Portfolios should include original work, don't overload it but pick out the best examples of different areas within art. Eg. Drawing, painting, photography etc. try and include some life drawing and self portraits are a good idea. Start working in sketchbooks now, set yourself a challenge to draw something everyday or every other day at least and go with the flow, don't think about producing a lot of final pieces thats not what they are looking for, they are more interested in how you develop ideas.

Interviews for the foundation course are straight forward, nothing to worry about.

Fine Art interviews are more of an 'ordeal' but by the time that comes around you will have gained confidence and will be prepared and instructed by your foundation tutors.

I admire you for taking this step. it was difficult for me as a single man never mind having children like yourself.

Don't worry about the financial aspect, there are mothers your age on my course who seem to manage well enough. There will be quite a few mature students on your fine art course, there must be about 20 first years in Belfast at the minute.

Hope it goes well for you, any questions just PM me.

EJ

tropicart
12-23-2003, 05:37 PM
Hey Helen

I too can identify with what your'e going through and I have to say it's like a roller coaster nightmare, so just close your eyes and hold on tight. I started engineering school in the evenings, after I was married, had 2 kids and had to keep my 8hr engineering job and I was a full time student. I did this for 5.5 years and when I started in school my grades were all over the place (math, physics, structural design, you name it). Even the engineers working with me didn't know how I could cope and keep up. On more than 5 occasions my wife told me to quit it all, that she would understand. But hell no! I had too much riding on this. It was either this or work at a crappy job for eternity to support my family.

Well, I graduated 6 years ago and I still can't believe it's over. I have a good job, my art makes some money on the side here and there, my wife doesn't have to work (although she decided to keep a part time job), the kids have everything they need and all I have now to keep me sane is my art. SO DON'T BE AFRAID! Have faith in yourself.

Happy Holidays

Gerry

s-augustson
12-25-2003, 11:08 AM
I am 30 and I just finished my first quarter of school. I stay home in the day with my boys. I then go to class in the evening. My classes are from 5:30 - 10:30 Monday through Friday.

I will tell you this though, going to school now for me has been better. I am more focused and know my goals. I had three classes this quarter and I got an A in all of them.

I am majoring in Interactive Multimedia Production and Technology. Its a new major which combines graphic designer, web design and DVD authoring all in one.

A lot of places in my area who hire graphic designers want them to know more web stuff too. You need draw but at the same time build a database from scratch for the web so this major is awesome.

Sorry I am not any help on your financial questions. The Army pays 100% of my tuition and pays for all my books, computer, etc. so I didnt have to do the financial aid stuff to be able to tell you how to do that.

But I just saw your post and wanted to encourage you to pursue it.

My biggest thing was I kept thinking... I am 30, these kids are going to think I am weird for going to school now. But that was far from it. I found all of them coming to me with questions and I was able to help them, which also helped the professors.

Yokovich
01-02-2004, 02:25 PM
Helen--! It is wonderful you are taking the plunge!
At age 30 I left a successful career in insurance to go to art school. Everyone thought I was nuts. It was commercial art that I was after back then I now at age 53 I know I've learned everything I can from "advertising". Now I am most interested in Fine Art. Point is, your path might not be straight on--there are bends in the road--but it's all an "evolution"!
My school experience was fantastic--even though several times when I got to the classroom ahead of everyone I was often mistaken for the TEACHER! LOL that sort of shook me up but I also shook it off! Here in Portland Oregon we have a woman who graduated college at age 85! (this made the newspaper) The reason she went to school at this advanced age was because someone asked her when she was 82 if she had 20 more years what would she do with them! Ageism is rampant here in the US--I regret MY OWN contribution to it through the advertising industry. Don't buy into anything about age being a drawback in any area (well ok perhaps downhill racing, but even THAT could be challenged) ageism is hooey. :)