An A -Z guide of SCA tips for future students – By @Holly_Georgious

An A -Z guide of SCA tips for future students

Here is an A-Z of things you should know before you start SCA. Why I decided to do an A-Z I do not know, so some of the headings are a little tenuous. Soz. 


The ONLY thing it is actually important to do before school starts is learn Adobe. I don’t care if you are a copywriter, do it. Get to know your way around Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere (if you want after effects, but that’s not a must.) You don’t have to be a whiz, but it will make your life a hell of a lot easier. From one Adobe illiterate copywriter to another you and your partner’s life will be a lot easier and a lot less stressful if you can do this.


Before SCA you are an ad baby. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do. You don’t know anything. This is a bit of an exaggeration, of course you might know some things, and those things will almost definitely help you, but you will still know nothing about making ads, good ads. Even if you think you do, even if you have been on placement at Mother for the past year, you still don’t know how to make good ads. Because good ads don’t feel like ads. At SCA you are not just taught about advertising, you are taught a new way to think so don’t come in thinking you know it all already, because you don’t and accepting that is the first step to greatness.


A lot of people have said that they are worried when they have looked around SCA, because everyone seems ‘so confident and loud’ and they are not. If that is you then don’t worry. Not everyone is loud, there is a big mix of extraverts and introverts, loud and quiet. Some of the best creatives of all time are shy and so are some of the students, so don’t worry if you’re not the most confident, because that will come and there is room for everyone.


SCA is expensive, make no mistake about it. The main thing is not necessarily the cost of the course, although that is a lot, it is also the fact that you are not earning. You can’t really earn while you are studying. Many have tried and failed. You can try at the beginning, but out of a class of 30 only one is still working now. So be prepared for feeling like a kid again asking your parents for money (if that’s possible) so you can go out with your friends. There are other ways to make money though, throughout the term (especially near the end) you will get some briefs with some cash prizes. I wouldn’t rely on them, but it’s worth mentioning they are there. 


SCA is an emotional roller-coaster, it is hard bloody work. It is the best thing you will ever do, but it at times it will also feel like the worst. Be prepared for that, its okay to cry. I have cried A LOT I mean A LOT, A LOT (not all for sad reasons). You will be tired, you’ll be mentally worn out, you will question everything and maybe at times even feel worthless. But you will also feel on top of the world. You will laugh and love and have the most insanely fun time every day. You are only as good as your last piece of work and because of that you have highs and lows. One week you think you are soaring and the next you’ve crash landed in a bin next to the M25. Don’t worry haven’t gone mad, you’re just at SCA….which is arguably the same thing.


A very common disease you will almost definitely suffer from while on the course and probably for the rest of your career from then on is the FuckIWishIMadeThat disease. Characterised by envy, jealously and annoyance. FuckIWishIMadeThat cannot be cured but it can be avoided. Hard work and graft is the best way to protect yourself.  

Good’s not great

Good is bad. Good is no good. Good is boring. Good is in fact the opposite of good, it is bad. Because good is the enemy of great. You will learn this pretty early on, but just know that good is not a compliment.


SCA is hard, emotionally, physically (if you get on that bloomin’ skateboard) and mentally, and the thing that will get you through is your love of the job. So love it, enjoy it and make sure you want to make ads because that is what will get you through the dark days.

Imposter syndrome

It happens to the best of us, the feeling that you are not good enough, did I get in on a fluke? Is it really that hard to get in? Was I just lucky to have done well on that brief? I could never come up with an idea like that. I am no good. I will never do well. I can’t do it. I am shit. I am not as good as X Y and Z. They are just saying it’s good to be nice. I can’t believe we did well, it wasn’t even that good. I’m not good enough to be here. Just know you are, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t good enough. So hold on to that. Everyone is amazing at something. Marc saw that something, that’s why you are there. Speak to Alex, speak to classmates, the office and mentors. They all know the feeling and if they don’t they will.

Just do it 

The key to Marc, many of the mentors’ and industry professionals hearts is when you just do it. Whatever it is, stop talking about doing it, just go and bloody do it. 

Kill your babies

99.5% of what you make is utter shit. 99.5% of what I make is utter shit. 99.5% of what the mentors make and what Bernbach and Burnett and Ogilvy made was utter shit, because 99.5% of what everyone makes is utter shit. And that’s okay because to get the gold you need to shift through the dirt. So get it out of your system, kill it and move on. That’s the only way to find a gem. Don’t be scared of work or bad ideas its part of the process, it is not a reflection on you or your ability. It is nothing personal. So do it, get over it and move on to the next.


At the risk of sounding like a clichéd poster live, laugh, love every moment of SCA. It is so much fun and for all there tears there is 10 times more laughter. You will meet people who you will wholeheartedly love, you will laugh more than you have in a while. And you will live for every moment of it. It goes fast so enjoy every late studio night drinking wine, working to a deadline and watching your classmates re-enact Disney songs. Every bellowing song from Marc’s ever eclectic playlist. And every moment you and your classmates do well because they make the experience.


Marc and the mentors are amazing, every guest speaker regular and visiting mentor is an absolute diamond. They are full of knowledge and are vital to success. See them, use them, take their advice and work with them. They are there to help and they really do. They all have different ways of helping, some are harsh or honest, some are kind and nurturing, some just like to chat and some only want to talk about work. There are mentors for ideating and mentors for crafting. Some will love your work some will hate it. All of them are right, all are valid. All can be learnt from. All have your best interest at heart. It can be hard when everyone has such conflicting opinions, so find “your mentors” the ones you agree with, the ones you respect and like and choose to listen to them. It is okay if not everyone likes it, it is not okay not use the mentors because of it.

Not sure what’s happening?

Neither am I. SCA is a minefield of mind games, sometimes you play them sometimes you don’t. Everything  you do, no matter how mundane or random it may seem, has a reason behind it so, go with the flow and keep on swimming. 


Ideas come from knowledge and inspiration. So get out, collect and connect the dots, experience culture, have an interest. Knowing about things outside advertising makes your work better, your self more interesting, and lets your brain work without you forcing it to.


Sleep around. Don’t settle to soon, don’t worry about who you will be with. Finding your partner is like trying to find the one in a group of 30 people. There’s so much to think about and consider, so go with the flow. And trust me when it’s right, it’s just right. You will know.


Question everything. Why is this good? Why isn’t this good ? Is it to obvious? How have you come to this conclusion? Is it unexpected? Is it true?


Relationships can be a little hard at SCA. This is not by any means me telling you to break up with your partner. Please don’t, just be prepared that it might be a little tricky at times. 

Your working schedule is no longer linear and it can be hard to switch off. Sometimes you don’t know what time you’ll be home, sometimes you don’t know when you’ll be free. Your partner and friends and family for that matter may find it hard to understand what it’s like at SCA what it is and how mad it is. That’s okay. They don’t need to. They just need to support you when your down. It is hard explaining that you may not reply as quickly or that you cannot see them as much. As long as they know it’s not them and they are prepared you will probably be fine. It’s just something to be aware of, it can take it’s toll.

Social Life

You will temporarily lose your social life, especially somewhere in the middle of the year when you have lots of work but haven’t learnt to balance it yet. Even when you do see friends you will realise that all you can talk about is SCA. It is all consuming. You don’t really feel like you are missing out, not in a day to day way. SCA is so sociable and you have so much fun that it’s enough to scratch that itch. I let my friends know before I started that I wouldn’t be around as much. It is not that you can’t see them on weekends, more that you can’t take off a Friday and Monday to go on big trips, or keep to after school plans. Briefs come from all over and take various amounts of times. You don’t know what you are doing when, so how can they. 

Tortoise n hare 

SCA, advertising, is a marathon, it is not a sprint. It doesn’t matter who is ahead at the start, it clicks for everyone at different rates. Those who are top at the start are rarely top at the end, so don’t worry about everyone else. Work hard, do your best and plough on through.


U turns can happen with anyone at any point. You are only as good as your last piece of work, so stay focussed, keep your eyes on the prize and don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

Venture out

Get out of your comfort zone. Knowing your strengths is good, but being able to be more than a one trick pony is crucial. Agencies want people who can be interested in anything, who can sell anything. Even things that not aimed at them, or that they don’t like. So don’t stick to what you know. Stick to what you don’t.


Work, work, work, work, work, work. Oh and more work.

Xtra ordinary 

This journey is extraordinary. You will see all sorts of bizarre things and have to do all of weird tasks. They make you better. Do them. Do I regret not getting on that bloody skateboard? No. Do I get why Marc makes you do it? yes. Enjoy it.


You are incredible and that’s why you’re here. Remember that.


Sleep. It can be hard to switch off when your brain is so on all the time. It’s worth finding how you best switch off early on, so you have it ready for when you need it. 

This may seem a little overwhelming on the first reading and a bit of a mind melt. So will your first week. But don’t worry, work hard, be mentally prepared and enjoy, because you truly are about to take the best, most mad and magical ride of your life.  Have fun XXX

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