It's been over 10 years since I first started contemplating Central Saint Martins as the holy grail of Fashion education, and the solution to all my career troubles.
I've experienced every stage of the "I need to get into CSM" drama:
- Learning about many famous alumni (but just superficial info on each one);
- Cluelessly going to an international office to ask how to get in, and being told how hard it is by an office staff with no actual ties to any of the full-time courses;
- Cluelessly going to the reception desk at the Granary square building in my first trip to London, and being told "ugh you can't just wanna go to a school just because you heard someone famous studied there" (WRONG! That's one of the criteria for ranking Fashion schools)
- Reading the entry requirements for international students on the CSM website, and feeling totally confused, overwhelmed, annoyed, prejudiced, wronged and humiliated;
- Having an interview at an international office with a half-baked portfolio, because I didn't know any better back then… and leaving in tears after being looked down by the interviewer, a tutor from some random course in Chelsea or LCC;
- Kindly being offered a chance to apply to a portfolio making course;
- Getting into Fashion Folio, and finally start making real progress between many emotional ups-and-downs.
I'll stop there since I already wrote about my experience at Fashion Folio and Graduate Diploma, plus made videos showing my portfolio and sharing some of my insights.
Back to my main point writing this: I know how desperate you are to get into CSM Fashion.
But there's no reason to pay £300 for any student to answer your questions.
1. You're supposed to talk with current students or graduates before you apply.
It's not a service we're providing, it's just a cosy chat.
- If you come for an Open Day, you're supposed to talk with the students you meet;
- If you're in Fashion Folio, you're supposed to talk with the students in the course you wanna apply to;
- If you're in the BA or Grad Dip, you're supposed to be nosy and find a way to connect with the MA guys and check out what they do behind their closed studio doors.
This is not my advice: every course director will tell you to do that.
And if you're not in London, slide into people's DMs.
Be polite, don't write them a sob story, don't expect to get free tutorials, and I'm sure most of them will reply. For free.
2. Even full-time students get very limited time with their tutors.
Meaning: no smart student will waste their time and their valuable tuition money trying to get insider information for somebody else.
If you find such a person, know that she's sacrificing her own development and a good relationship with the tutors in order to earn some quick cash.
Of course we approach the tutors to ask for a friend who wants to apply, but if there's someone doing it every other week, everyone's gonna see what they're doing.
And if there's any tutor directing you to someone else for private tutorials and portfolio advice, question their intention on doing so.
Places at full-time CSM courses are very limited, and many of us need a preparatory course to get at a level where we can keep up with them… but if you need a preparatory course in order to get into a preparatory course such as Fashion Folio, you have deeper issues to solve.
3. Not even a £500 tutorial will save you, if you're not at the right level.
If you wanna spend money that bad, you can find private tutorials with alumni who supposedly were every designer's darling in the early 90s, and were one step away from becoming the next big thing in Fashion.
Again, question their badass-ness: if they're that f*cking awesome, why don't they have their own full-time course at CSM? Is it because they're busy working in the industry?
And how come you never heard of them? Is it because they're Fashion's best kept secret?
If so, why are they offering their services to your newbie ass?
Studying at CSM is a very intense experience and you'll grow a lot - but there are no shortcuts.
You have to be at a certain level to profit from the courses, and trying to find a magic fix because you're getting "too old to work in Fashion" or whatever will be self-sabotage.
Don't do it to yourself when you're paying up to £18,000 in tuition fees.
But if you do have a burning question, feel free to get in touch.
Just remember: be polite, don't write me a sob story, don't expect to get free tutorials or portfolio advice, and I'll reply in 1-2 days. For free.