Word of Mouth! Danielle Tunstall’s tips on surviving university!

FAD Stories

Last week we had another set of successful Fashion forward Workshops at the The Dragon Hall Trust.



We caught up with Danielle Tunstall, a loyal FAD Volunteer and a graduate from The University of Manchester to find out her views on Higher Education and her advice to new students preparing for studying a course at degree level.

Check out our catch-up interview with Danielle below!

What route did you undergo after finishing college/6th Form?

After 6th form I decided to go straight to university. At first I did toy with the idea of attending art collage as I really wanted to do knitwear or lingerie design but I knew in my heart that I probably wasn’t creative enough. Luckily I did Fashion Futures (which was called Fashion Futures 2 at the time) with FAD. I got to visited both River Island and John Lewis HQ’s, this really sparked my interest in buying – it just looked so exciting! The role seemed to incorporate both a sense of creativity and business so I immediately thought it was perfect for me. I loved the look of Manchester University and the course it was offering at the time so I set my sights on going there.

Was first year very different to second year?

In my first year the lectures and tutors were aware that this was the first time that most of us were living away from home therefore the first year of uni really holds no marks. Your first year at uni is more so for you to get used to being away and learning independently. During my first and second year I learnt so much and had a lot of support when I needed it. In my second year I improved a lot more as a student  – you generally progress over the three years, as you really pick thing up while you’re studying and understand what is expected of your more. 

University is all about independent learning and being able to make decisions on your own. Be in charge of your own work and your own vision. What advice could you give college/6th form students who will be attending university next year?

At uni no one will force you to do work! You really are in charge of your own learning though it is important to remember that the university will always be there to support you. If you need help, ASK! There is no point in pretending to yourself that you understand something when you don’t, it’s better to ask before it is too late and you get a grade you are not happy with. Sometimes it can be hard to find help as lecturers are quite busy, so you need to be very proactive. If I needed help I would go in regardless of whether I was scheduled to be in or not, email my tutors and sometimes even text them to ask questions, get feedback or for general advice. Bad feedback is better than no feedback!

You hear it all the time but keeping organised and on the top of your deadlines is essential! Coursework can swamp you if you let it get on top of you. Too much stress is bad for you.

Last of all I would say, at uni you really get out what you put in! Simply work hard and you will do well. And remember sometimes you have to make sacrifices – it is not all about going out and having fun, sometimes your best friend must be the library.

As we have all experienced university can be very stressful especially on fashion courses. Could you provide any useful tips on how new students can deal with stressful situations and anxiety attacks?

Most people become stressed because of poor organisation. They let their work build up, then suddenly realise there is too much to do and to little time. Keeping organised is really key to not getting stressed. Obviously you’ll always feel a little stress as there is a lot to do at uni but if you manage your time your stress level will be seriously reduced. There were times people would be crying and breaking down in lectures, this was because they hadn’t started their work. They had enough time to begin with but didn’t manage their time well.

In my final year to make sure I didn’t let this happen to me, I would sit down take a pen and piece of paper and plan. I would sit there until I was clear about what were the main tasks that had to be done, what were the tasks that I had to do in order to complete the main task, how long each task would take and when the projects were due. Using this I was able to work out when each project would need to be started. This really helped me because it meant I always felt organised and it meant that I could tick of what I had done and it made me feel good and gave me a sense of accomplishment. If the next week I felt stressed and disorganised I would do it again!

Also there have been times when I have felt very stressed with my work load and I would have an evening feeling sorry for myself. Stress can make you really ineffective at times.  This achieves nothing. It is better to be really proactive, make a list and get on with it. Also Lecturers are usually happy to help you manage your time. At the beginning of some projects some lecturers will actually make you do a weekly plan.

Could you provide some tips on how new students can save money while living away from home and NOT working, only living off student loan/grants.

Cook! Don’t be lazy, buy food and cook it yourself. It’s so much cheaper and healthier then constantly eating out.

Buy a flask – I spent so much on coffee each day in my second year, so I got myself a flask and saved loads!

Bring lunch – the cafes at uni are usually cheap but it adds up if you eat out everyday – do packed lunches from time to time. Also lectures can be long and sometimes you have to work till late. I get irritable and can’t work properly if I’m too hungry so me and my friends always brought snacks with us when we were at lectures or working late in the library.

Walk – My uni was at the furthest campus so most people took the bus. I chose to walk. It was about 40 mins away but it meant I saved money on the bus fare and didn’t need to buy a bus pass. Also very good exercise and a great way to clear your mind!


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