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University Isn't For Everybody

Words by Madeline Stocks

University; an educational institution designed to give you knowledge and an abundance of career opportunities. A place where academics flourish and thrive. But then again, it is also a place where a lot of people find themselves through the act of failure. And that’s what I did. I’m not a University student. It has taken me seven different degrees, three different universities and two different modes of studying for me to realise that University is not the key to my career right now. I wouldn’t take it back though, and here’s why.

When I started my first degree, I was a young and preppy student ready to immerse herself in the world of theories and scholars. I was adamant that this was going to be the place where I would find myself, succeed and find out where I belonged in this world. I was supposed to flourish. With each lecture, tutorial and assignment however, I found myself sick to my stomach and drowning like a bird trying to swim. It didn’t feel right. I wasn’t like the other people I would see in the library or on my Instagram stories, cramming for exams or writing a notebook worth of notes from a lecture. If anything, I was actively ignoring the work I needed to do, which should have been my first sign that this was not the path for me.

What became even worse, was when the marks would come back. Coming from a selective academic school where I achieved some of the highest grades in my year, I thought I knew how to write, how to cultivate ideas and study texts. Apparently, I knew nothing of the sort in a University context. Everything I had enjoyed in my high school education was crushed, my space to be creative and create a bond with my teachers had dissipated. I was so lost, confused and didn’t know what to do. University was supposed to be my beacon of light at the end of a very tumultuous high school experience. Why couldn’t I do it?

Over the next three years was a multitude of identity crises. Switching and swapping degrees whilst dropping out of others. Frantically looking for a course that would give me some guidance, some sense of opportunity and eventually, a fulfilling career. But each time I was left more battered and bruised than before. I kept thinking, “if I just change degrees one more time. If I try one more campus. One more way to study, I will find it.”

Safe to say, I didn’t find it.

So, on a beautiful Autumn day I cried, and cried, and called my Mum. I was so confused. I felt hopeless without attaining a degree. I knew I wanted to become a writer, that choosing my outfit every day was one of the most important tasks to complete, and that I had been manifesting Vogue magazine since I was 16. With these three things considered, and the help of a little Googling, I stumbled upon a course that was going to finally give me some purpose.

I present to you, The Fashion Institute. A hands-on Diploma of Business in Fashion Communications and Digital Marketing. A one-year course where I get to meet fellow fashionista’s in the business, the power women and men who come straight from the field and let us pick their brain. The opportunity to gain real industry experience within my field in order to become a piece of the puzzle. A chance to work hard, play hard and fulfil my dreams of a modern-day Devil Wears Prada. It was absolutely perfect.

After speaking with Sarah, the founder and boss woman of The Fashion Institute, I instantly felt at home. Her passion and excitement for this course, as well as telling me the abundance of opportunities that will be laid before me ready to jump into was making me grin and grin some more. Finally, after years of manifesting Vogue, I was here and ready for the task.

Ever since I travelled to Paris at the age of sixteen, I must have subconsciously known, that this course, this journey I am about to embark on was for me. After walking down the Champs Elysee, climbing the Eiffel Tower and purchasing French fries with baguettes as if my life depended on it, I stumbled across an old, rickety shop on wheels. It that sold a variety of different pictures and canvases, I knew what I wanted. I bought four vintage Vogue covers and carried them around Europe with me as if they were my long-lost treasure. They have been framed and hung in every home I have lived in, from the Inner Western Suburbs, to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. These have been the photos I have woken up to every day and said good night to every evening. They have been my dream for over five years now, and to say I am blessed to have found The Fashion Institute, a place to make this dream come true, is the understatement of my year.


I wouldn’t ever take back my ‘complicated’ relationship with University. Even if it did break my heart once or seven times, because it taught me so much about myself. About who I am, how I learn and most importantly, who I want to be. So, if you are currently a University student, or even a high school student who thinks University is the be all and end all of your career, I am here to tell you to think again. There are so many options for you post high school that don’t have to involve a degree that can still give you an abundance of knowledge. Everyone is different, and everyone will learn differently, you just have to find your wave and ride it with absolute confidence.

My name is Madeline, and I am not a University student. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I am so glad I have finally closed the door, because it allowed me to open this one that The Fashion Institute will give me. And I believe it’s going to be the ride of a lifetime.

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