The Exam Results Helpline met YouTube sensation Luke Cutforth from Lukeisnotsexy fame to talk about how he got on in his exams, how quitting Uni led to his ultimate goal of making films and why he will always have the ultimate respect for his University of Gloucestershire lecturers…
How did you find doing your exams?
Remembering that stage in my life is quite a hard thing for me to do as I found exams unnecessarily stressful and got frustrated as they are a limited viewpoint into how intelligent somebody actually is.
Across the board I generally did better in work where I was given time to consider, write well, research and work in stress free environments. The bulk of my better work was in coursework. I enjoyed that side of learning much more and even managed to get 100% on several English Literature essays.
When I got my results I was disappointed as I was predicted higher grades in a couple of subjects and fell short.
How did you cope with exam stress?
I coped very badly indeed. I was quite unhappy during some of my time working up to exams and was convinced that if I messed them up that was pretty much the end of my life. I had to pay a lot of my own money out to try and get a personal tutor for some of them just to get me through some of the tougher ones.
What did you do after your A Levels?
I decided to go to the University of Gloucestershire to do the Film Production course as it seemed very practical but with a focus on the theory as well. It was the theory side of things I was really looking to develop as I had taught myself a fair amount of the practical already.
I had a lot of respect for the course leader at the uni as she appreciated my abilities on YouTube and took that into account when she gave me an unconditional offer to study at the university.
To me this was proof that the uni didn’t shy away from new media forms that were emerging and that they understood that they too require a fair amount of skill.
What made you want to go to uni?
It’s such a big decision and at the time I have to say that I felt pressured to go to uni. I felt like it was either that or settle for a second rate job and lower life goals. I know this was wrong now and that many successful people choose not to go to university.
I also felt that there was no advice available from anyone who would even discuss my specific, unusual circumstance of having created content weekly for hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube. Most people brushed my videos off as unimportant or it was laughed it. And of course, this ended up becoming the reason I could make myself a career without university so I felt that that viewpoint was limited.
I don't feel like I made the wrong choice by going to uni though. I learned a lot in the year about how to learn, the importance of theory, how to survive in the real world, and I met several people who I would go on to work with a lot in the following years. So it was a valuable year of study, even if I eventually decided not to continue.
How did you feel when you made the final and daunting decision to quit Uni altogether?
The idea of quitting uni scared me. For as long as I could remember I'd been in some form of education. The day I quit I was thrown into the real world of harsh realities and was the last day I’d ever spend in full time education.
University had taught me a lot but I knew I wouldn't be happy there. I didn't feel like my specific abilities fit in well with a university system mainly focused on making sure you get a job. It caters to the idea that you need to be employed by somebody else rather than forge your own path, your own way in the world and try to change the world you aim to work in.
Because of my early success on YouTube and the limited time I had available in the day it felt like I had to make the choice of what to focus on and what would allow me to reach a greater height. YouTube made me stand out as something unique so that's why I chose it over university. Since leaving, I've been happier and doing more work towards my life goals than ever.
That's not to say that the University of Gloucestershire course is bad, it most certainly isn't. I learned a lot about film and the lecturers were very supportive of my decision to leave and I have a lot of respect for them for that. The course leader also told me I was welcome back to the course if I ever wanted to which was a lovely thing for her to do.
What’s next for you?
Well I am still dedicated to fans of my YouTube channels and I really enjoy creating content for them to enjoy and think about.
I am also involved in a massively exciting project with a friend I met at the University of Gloucestershire to produce a film that is an adaptation of a book. I’m hoping that this will be my ‘leg up’ into the film world and I’m so excited to be living the dream as a film producer!
We will be launching a Kickstarter Appeal in August to fund the making of the film and the idea of a community contributing to, and becoming a part of, the process is exciting and enables us to have the freedom to tell the story in the way it is supposed to be told.
What piece of advice would he give to students doing exams now?
Definitely work hard. I can't express how much I'd recommend that. Education is so important.
Even if grades are not important in the line of work you aspire to, the process of learning and working hard makes you a much more rounded, intelligent and grateful person.
But I'd also say that if you have something that makes you stand out from the crowd don't let anybody try and quash it. Embrace it, make it work for you and use it to further yourself. This applies most in the world of creativity and maybe less so in academic based subjects which can be assessed objectively such as maths and the sciences.
If your dreamed line of work is one of creativity the worst thing you could do would be not to embrace your irregularities.
The Exam Results Helpline is a really great service that I wish I'd known about 3 years ago. Maybe it would have sent me down a different path, one more streamlined towards my eventual goals.
Not getting the grades you expected can be terrifying in a world that drives all its focus on test based success. There are so many other routes to many of your dreams so seek advice, work hard and never become just another worker. Embrace who you are.