I didn’t learn a specific craft at university – I studied English Literature – but what I got from the complete experience set me up for life. I learned how to be a grown-up, how to negotiate posh food (pesto! Who knew?), how to live on my own, how to fall in love and make a mess of it and do the same thing the next year, and the next. I made the kind of rock-solid friends, from entirely different backgrounds to me, that I can still count on in a crisis, 10 years later. I learned how to live in a city, how to talk to adults as an adult, and that ambition could be a good thing.
But most importantly, I learned how to be confident. I come from a tiny village in Lincolnshire where being a bookish teenager meant I was weird, and I suddenly found myself in a place where being interested in learning about books and art wasn’t something to be ashamed of. That set me up for my career. I fell into being a journalist rather than training for it, but without the boost of my degree, I would never have dreamed it was even an option, never mind had the gumption to go ahead and really try it.
So naturally I find it outrageous that this experience now comes at such an extortionate cost. Studying the arts matters in so many ways, and it would be a tragedy if it became the preserve of a privileged few. This is why I’m volunteering for Arts Emergency: to make sure that doesn’t happen.