What is Your Favourite Memory of College?

In England, the school system is a little different. Instead of attending separate junior high and high schools, we go to ‘primary school’ from age five to eleven, then ‘secondary school’ from eleven to sixteen. After that, compulsory education ends, but many people choose to go to a ‘sixth form’ school or college, to complete A -level or B-tech qualifications before starting work or applying to study at a university.

Sixth form schools are like an extension of secondary school, where you study traditional academic subjects, whereas colleges offer a wider range of subjects- at a college you can study science or history, but you can also train to become a mechanic or a hairdresser.

I went to a college to study a two-year Art and Design course, with the intention of going on to study Fine Art at University. In this course I worked on all kinds of different projects: photography, painting, sculpture, video and textile design. College was fun because, unlike school, students had a lot of freedom. Adults of any age can enroll in this kind of course, but no one in my class was older than 20. We were mostly 16 to 18 years old, fresh out of secondary school. We were treated like adults by the tutors running the course, but we were still quite immature.

I made a lot of new friends in my class, many of whom I’m still in touch with, but I saw some people I already knew around the college ground: My friend Mikey was at the same college, studying English and French, and my friend Ben took all kinds of courses, as he kept dropping out and starting new ones, to the annoyance of his parents and tutors. Ben is a strange guy, he used to finish his class and then join one of mine, just to hang out with me. This was definitely against the rules, but security at the college was poor. Ben was able to drift around wherever he wanted without anyone stopping him. One of my funniest memories is when the photography tutor realized about six months into the course that Ben wasn’t actually a student of the class, despite having attended almost every lesson. My tutor knew he should have reported Ben, but he couldn’t be bothered. Bewildered, he just accepted Ben’s presence.

Free from the timetables of secondary school and no longer confined to the classroom, we used to leave the college all the time, with the excuse of ‘going to buy materials’ or ‘doing research’. My friend Tessa used to drive me and two other girls from class around in her car and we’d sing along to her CD mixtapes. Our favourite song was an incredibly offensive one by American rapper Mystikal. Since the lyrics are so derogatory against women, I like to imagine Mystikal would be disappointed if he knew how much joy the ridicule of his music brought four young English girls.

We did, from time to time, do some work in the studios. I made artwork I’m proud of, and learned some valuable skills, but the work process didn’t leave me with memories half as good as the time-wasting did.



compulsory (adjective) – something that must be done; required by rules or law
enroll (verb) – to register as a student for a course
drop out (phrasal verb) – to quit or stop attending a class/school
can’t be bothered (phrase) – to be unwilling to make an effort to do something
derogatory (adjective) – disrespectful; insulting
ridicule (noun) – harsh comments made by people who are laughing at someone or something