Changing Paths | Moving from Creative to Academic

Monday, 8 June 2015

University can be a hard transition as it is.But when you throw yourself into a subject you have never studied before, don't expect it to come naturally, especially for a creative person like myself. I have always been better at creativity, I was never into Maths (if you can be 'in' to maths) and I didn't care much for learning the subject to be honest, I still don't really understand how most of the things I was taught has helped me to this day but lets not get into that. I have always chosen creativity over academia, even in my Alevels all my subjects were creative. Media, art and philosophy, all subjects that have room for free thinking. 

When I decided to partake in a Psychology degree I was warned many times that some units do contain maths (my friends know too well of my hatred for maths) and I thought that that would be okay, I knew that the subject of psychology has to have a little structure to it because it is evidently a science. What I wasn't expecting was a whole unit on what was to me actual maths (I know now that statistics are important in psychology and for any hypothesis or theory to work the statistics of your idea have to be a positive result). My brain went into overdrive when I sat in that stats class for the first time and all I could see were numbers, just random numbers everywhere. I didn't get better, during our first week at Uni we had to sit through many classes on essay structure and referencing, which I now know is a very important part of any Uni course but, at the time I did wonder why I was doing this to myself, why I dropped a job in art or photography for this. But then I thought about my future career as an art therapist and how beneficial a psychology degree would be for that and that did calm my nerves a lot. As the semester progressed we were taught things other than structure and once my Philosophy of Psychology unit started, I began to remember why I was there. 

Don't get me wrong it was an incredibly hard transition to go from a very creative (very easy) photography course where most units had a completely open brief, you could literally do anything. To an assessment brief so narrow it was actually hard to keep on topic for most of it without drifting off into something else. APA (American Psychological Association) structure is also incredibly petty, some of the things they ask you do for your essay to get a good grade I just can't get my head around, even after first year. I just don't understand why forgetting to indent your essay on every paragraph can cause you to drop so many grades, shouldn't it be all about your quality of your writing and your choice of words? Not whether your title font is 0.5 smaller than it should be. I think though, that this will annoy me forever at Uni and after talking to people who are doing creative courses, they have put my mind at ease by saying that they also have to abide to an essay or portfolio structure. 

I do sometimes think what my Uni life would be like if I did study a creative course and what zaney ideas I could come up with and whether my creative drive would be a lot stronger. I try and keep in touch with my creative drive as much as I can, I play guitar, write (bad) poetry and draw and paint as much as I can but I can remember when my essays began I just lost all creative thought and that scared me a little because I am known for my creativity, if this course eventually sucks that out of me what will I have left? But lets not get that far into that, I'm sure I'll find a way to insert my creativity into my course somehow and then if I do move onto an art therapy course (what I actually want to do with my life) then I'm sure that's full of creativity and will add up for the years I lost doing work without it.   

I would love to know if any of you have had the same problem.
Did you study a creative course and now have to face up to an academic one to get that qualification you desperately need?


  1. I'm currently doing a BA Contemporary Media course and the academic side of it has surprised me. I enjoy essay writing so it doesn't bother me too much, but it's a lot more academic than I thought it would be. I think font sizes and indentations are just university rules rather than specifically your course, but I agree that you should get marked on what you've written rather than how you've presented it!

    Megan / Lazy Thoughts

    1. Yeah I'm so glad I like essay writing as well or I would be screwed! And also yeah it seems to be the case that Uni's really want that structure to be perfect or we fail and yeah exactly I don't understand that either, ugh.