Typical Timetable and Structure
Firstly, I would like to explain the structure of my first year to give you an idea of what to expect. The year was split in half and consisted of the Autumn term and the Spring term; we were in different classes for each term and some of us also had classes on different days.
One of the reasons I chose Escape Studios amongst other universities was because they offer their first-year students a thorough introduction of each discipline, meaning students will go into their second year having a wider understanding of the industry and will be more informed about possible future specialisms.
Additionally, students have the opportunity to change their course before the end of first-year, which is really helpful in case anyone happens to enjoy one of the other disciplines more than the one they originally chose. I decided to stick with Animation because it was my favourite module out of the four!
Now that I've run through the course structure. Here is my list of helpful tips that I would've given to my 18-year-old self this time last year...
Don’t hesitate to communicate with your tutors.
Communication is absolutely key, not just in the first year but throughout your whole career! Starting university was extremely daunting for me as I suffer from anxiety, so I had to really push myself to get the most out of my lectures by asking questions and keeping my tutors up to date with how I was getting on.
You may feel like people will judge you for not knowing something, but you’re at university to learn and your tutors are there to help you do so. Even when I was falling a bit behind and didn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of the rest of the class, I made sure to email/message my tutors asking for help when I needed it.
Keep track of how much money you are spending
Wherever you are getting your money from, it’s important to keep track of how much you are spending each week and what on. As you probably know, university life can end up getting quite expensive, especially if you don’t at least try to stick to a budget! You need to allow money for food, travel, accommodation, and more, so being in control of your money is an absolute must.
Join the discord servers and get to know people
Yes, Escape Studios has its own discord server. And not just one. Students are required to join the main discord servers to ensure they don’t miss out on important information regarding their classes and submissions!
Along with using Discord to stay updated and receive help from studio assistants, Discord is a great place to socialise and get to know fellow first-year students. There are also separate servers for societies within Pearson College London, so I’d advise joining whichever ones you are interested in and making friends from there too.
Attend events and webinars
Another aspect of Escape Studios I absolutely love is that they send out weekly newsletters to all their students with updates about what’s going on within Pearson College London and what’s going on around the world (in terms of VFX, animation, and games).
This includes informing students about upcoming events and webinars, which I would recommend attending if you have the time and energy! Hearing directly from industry professionals and being able to ask questions is a truly valuable experience (I also took some notes from each webinar I attended for future reference in my career).
Make personal deadlines within each module
Personally, time management was one of the things I struggled with the most during first year. I’m one of those people that unintentionally leaves everything until the last minute, and that showed during my first few months in particular! Implementing my own mini-deadlines within each module gave me more motivation to keep on top of my work and gave me a better idea of what I needed the most help with.
Watch tutorials online to get familiar with industry software.
As someone who hardly had any experience with the software used at Escape Studios before joining, navigating industry software was something I was forced to learn how to do very quickly.
We were given a one-week introduction to Autodesk Maya during our first term, however, I needed to experiment with Maya and other software such as Nuke and Unreal Engine a lot during my spare time to properly understand how they worked.
During the summer before I started my degree, I did dedicate some time to learning some of the Adobe software (which was still useful for my course), but in hindsight, I wish I had better prepared myself with 3D software in advance as well.
I hope you could find these tips helpful and good luck with starting with us in September!
By Zoe Walker, Animation Student