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Michael Blake, ‘Writer’ at MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art, cut his teeth as creative by doing AWARD School. Here the 2022 graduate gives his by-no-means-unbiased assessment of the course, for anyone considering applying.

Michael Blake, ‘Writer’ at MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art, cut his teeth as creative by doing AWARD School. Here the 2022 graduate gives his by-no-means-unbiased assessment of the course, for anyone considering applying.

Whoa now, what’s this? A by-no-means-unbiased assessment for anyone who’s staring down the barrel of that ‘further education’ we hear about, and wondering where they’re gonna get the best bang for their brain/buck - a single semester at university, or by doing AWARD School? 

Written by someone who has done both of these things and somehow ended up working as a creative in spite of dropping out of uni after one semester and proving no great shakes at AWARD School either?

Wait, it’s even broken down into handy, bite-sized categories? There are points being given out? Hot dogge. Let’s go.

Category 1—brass tacks:

1a. Cost

Uni: honestly quite hard to tell at first glance, either $4474 or $8161.50, depending on whether your creative-course falls under ‘Visual and Performing Arts’ or ‘Communications’. I’m not particularly stupid and I am legitimately confused by the fee structure.

AWARD: $2,200 + GST

Verdict: easy first points on the board for AWARD. A bonus point for this information being on the ‘About’ page of their website under ‘How much does it cost?’

Uni: 0


1b. Duration

Uni: five months

AWARD: twelve weeks

Verdict: another lay-up. Who knows what the heck the world is going to look like five months from now? 

Uni: 0


1c. Requirements

Uni: some sort of TER; twelve years of formal schooling; the ability to negotiate a webpage that contains paragraphs like this: 


AWARD: a pencil; several hundred sheets of paper; some degree of boneheaded stubbornness; the ability to watch ads and ASMR product unboxings on YouTube all afternoon and tell yourself it’s ‘research’.

Verdict: hoo boy, this could be getting ugly. Uni gets a point because most people have been to school, but loses half a point for that paragraph. AWARD gets a bonus because YouTube ASMR videos rule.

Uni: 0.5

AWARD: 4.5

Category 2—brass outcomes:


2a. Will I get a job as a direct result of this?

Uni: no, but you’ll get a piece of paper and be (at least) five months behind all the mavericks who just got out there and had a crack. You might get a spot in a grad program somewhere, pending nepotism/ talent.

AWARD: also no, but also like, maybe? I got five hundred bucks worth of freelance work as a result of making a bad joke during a Zoom Q+A, which is nothing to be sneezed at. If I wasn’t incompetent it probably could have been more.

Verdict: a point for each, to be charitable.

Uni: 1.5

AWARD: 5.5 

2b. The thing you’ll be proudest of

Uni: working out one day that the parking meter in the main carpark is broken so you can print unlimited free all-day parking permits (but only for that day).

AWARD: drawing a pretty convincing picture of a horse on skis; or having work get to The Wall (it’s a close-run thing).

Verdict: probably AWARD, although that day of free parking tasted sweet.

Uni: 1.5

AWARD: 6.5

Category 3—brass the third:

All jokes aside, this is beginning to feel a bit mean-spirited and anti-university. Would you really recommend that someone who wants to work in the creative industries apply for AWARD school over getting a degree?

Verdict: honestly, yeah. The combo of: relentless briefs; super-talented fellow students; genuinely interesting (and varied!) lectures; and tutors who are actually doing the stuff they’re teaching day in and out is pretty hard to beat. 

And if you’re already in the industry, or even already doing a degree, it’s a bloody good way to extend yourself, challenge yourself, and (probably) improve yourself as a creative (and maybe as a person, if you’re half-lucky). 

That’s worth another 6.5 fake points (or at least applying for AWARD) any day of the week. 


Final scores:

Uni: 1.5



Note: Michael Blake was not paid by AWARD to produce this crude hatchet job, although a YouTube ASMR channel did kick in thirty bucks. It is written entirely based on his own experiences undertaking the AWARD School Online program in 2022, and a lone semester at the University of Tasmania when he was definitely too immature to get much out of it. Make of that what you will. His views are his own and definitely don’t represent those of his employer, social futsal team, or mum.