I have decided to write about my time at university, where I am now and to answer the biggest question of them all.

Was it worth it?

In September 2009 I enrolled onto the Web Design and Development Degree at The university of Hull. My course was based at the Scarborough campus only around two miles from my house. It’s a small, homely but yet impressive university with the campus still displaying many of its initial features. (Hogwarts springs to mind.)

Before I stepped into the first lecture I had never even heard of HTML and CSS never mind PHP or JavaScript. The initial lectures were rather brief and thinking back they skimmed the basics so fast that you would often walk out of lectures bewildered. We had one lesson on Photoshop and Illustrator and we were then expected to create full branding for a fictional business. It was the same with HTML/CSS and the creation of a webpage.

Some people in the class were much brighter than myself and many if not all of the people on my course had some basic if not intermediate experience of the web. I had some catching up to do.

I quickly found that I enjoyed the design and front-end development of websites much better than anything else. I found the first year JavaScript project fascinating but it was far too complex for me at that stage in my learning.

First year was over in no time and although I passed easily I didn’t really feel like much of a web designer. My work was dire and to put things into perspective I still didn’t know how to float elements properly with CSS after the first year. I was certainly very naïve at this stage of my life and unfortunately didn’t put enough effort in outside of lectures and seminars.

Second year came around and it was difficult. We moved onto PHP, SQL, AJAX and ruby and they were very challenging at first.

Something changed in me second year though. I purchased a macbook and quickly became a ”Computer Person”. I would spend hour after hour on my mac just playing with code, making pages or drawing pretty things. I was by no means good but I was certainly getting better. I suddenly loved making things on screen and became fascinated by everything that we learnt. I read books religiously and could tell that I was quickly catching others in the class.

I still found the back-end work much less appealing than the front-end work but I was absorbing most stuff that we learnt in lectures and my skill set was slowly expanding.

The second year was the hardest in my opinion. We had to do a lot of back end programming and some of tasks were very demanding and confusing for me at times with so much to learn but so little time. Third and final year was much more essay orientated. The dreaded dissertation is a prime example of that. As you can probably tell from reading this, my English skills are pretty crap so therefore so too were my essays.

Anyway I graduated in June and I’ve managed to obtain employment with a very impressive web agency. We have some fantastic clients and it feels great to be part of it and to have made the step up in my professional career.

Anyway back to the question. Was it worth it? Well yeah I suppose it was, I’ve managed to obtain a good job, which is the ultimate goal at the end of university. However I can’t help but think that the actual university experience could have been slightly better. I felt that some of the modules we took were not relevant to mine or any of my classmates’ future careers whatsoever. I understand that not everything will be everyone’s cup of tea and the need to conduct your own personal study and research out of lectures was drilled into us from the start.

However, I felt the modules could have been substituted for something that would have more suitably benefitted our careers.

Considering the course was called Web Design and Development, I would say the Development side of things seriously outweighed the Web Design. I remember opening Photoshop/Illustrator twice in three years. Not one CMS was mentioned. There was no HTML5, jQuery or CSS3. Anyway enough moaning.

Overall the course was well balanced (just slightly not in my favor) and included many relevant things which have helped me ascent to the level at which I find myself today. However, it’s important to understand that university in itself doesn’t guarantee you a job or a career. It’s down to the student to literally work his/her knackers/knockers off in order to succeed. It’s the same as everything in life. You only get out what you put in.

Cheers for reading

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