As Thanksgiving looms, so do early-admission college applications. If you're as on top of things as we're betting most Fashionista readers are, you've most likely already started writing your essays -- or better yet, you're done.
While we highly suggest perusing our list of the 50 top fashion schools in the world before sending out that final application, we also think it's good to know that there isn't one perfect college or university. Not every fashion industry hopeful can go to Parsons, Saint Martins or FIT, and not everyone should. Just for you, we asked a bunch of fashion insiders -- from fashion editors such as Harper Bazaar's Kerry Pieri to designers like Trina Turk -- where they went to college and what they learned there.
Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director, Paper
School: Purdue University, Parsons School of Design
Major: BA in Spanish from Purdue. Almost BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons (I failed one class my senior year so never graduated).
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned that college is really about personal growth and development and that in life it sort of doesn't matter what you've studied or what you're an expert in, you can always try new things and don't need to feel limited. Unless of course you're talking about medicine. In which case you really do need to be an official doctor.
Taylor Tomasi Hill, Chief Coffee Runner, TTH LLC
School: Pratt Institute
Major: Industrial Design
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today?It's easy to overlook the most simple solution.
Kerry Pieri, Senior Digital Editor, Harper's Bazaar
School: Loyola University in Maryland
Major: Double Major in Journalism and Fine Arts with a Concentration in Photography
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Obviously I utilize the journalism and creative writing aspects of my education and knowledge of photography and photographers goes a long way in fashion and online in particular—though I don't shoot personally. However, I think that going to a liberal arts school was advantageous overall because my job covers so many topics daily, from culture to art and literature -- I find I mentally reference so many works I learned about in school regularly.
Matthew Bires, Senior Publicity Director, KCD
School: Bowling Green State University (in Bowling Green, Ohio), Fashion Institute of Technology
Major: Apparel Merchandising and Product Development at Bowling Green; Applied Science, Advertising and Marketing Communications at FIT
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Fake it till you make it...kidding!!! Hard work and a little midwest Ohio charm goes a long way.
Michelle Smith, Founder and Designer, Milly
School: Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC; ESMOD, Paris
Major: Fashion Design
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned how to deal with pressure--staying up sewing term garments and engaging in some healthy competition certainly prepared me for my runway shows!
Kerry Diamond, Restaurateur/Editorial Director of Cherry Bombe
School: The State University of New York at Plattsburgh
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I had an amazing desktop publishing class with Dr. Ron Davis and not a day goes by that I don't use something I learned from that class. Also, I worked for the school newspaper and radio station from my first semester 'til my last and that experience was invaluable.
Sidney Prawatyotin, VP of Fashion at Krupp Group
School: Hunter, NYC
Major: Liberal Arts with a focus on Media
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned a great deal in college, but nothing about the "industry." I actually failed History of PR. I think the best way to learn about our industry is through internships. And by that I don't mean the tasks your superiors assign you, it's the friends you make along the way. It's golden.
Erica Cerulo, Co-founder, Of a Kind
School: University of Chicago
Major: International Studies (which was like International Relations with a cultural emphasis)
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? How to interact with all sorts of people. There are a lot of characters at University of Chicago -- in a good way!
Somsack Sikhounmuong, Head of Design, Madewell
School: Parsons The New School for Design
Major: Fashion Design
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? The amount of talent that this city, and specifically Parsons, attracts is incredible and humbling.
Phil Oh, Photographer, StreetPeeper.com
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Ummmmmm...?
Trina Turk, Fashion Designer and CEO, Trina Turk
School: University of Washington
Major: Apparel Design
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I spent endless hours sewing and thrift/vintage shopping during the years I lived in Bellevue and Seattle and while attending the University of Washington. These two activities are more connected than you might think -- vintage shopping is a lesson in garment construction and fabrics, and you can’t design a garment if you don’t know how it will be put together. Textile Science at the University of Washington is the class where I learned things that I still use every day.
Britt Aboutaleb, Editorial Director, Byrdie.com
School: Boston University
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I actually think the social skills I learned in college have been the most helpful, career-wise. I did a short stint in a sorority, which taught me a lot about functioning in an all-female environment, and since BU was such a massive school (and Boston itself is like one giant university) I was surrounded by so many different types of people. Also, my senior year internship at Stella McCartney in London was like fashion school 101 -- I learned the difference between Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer, Marios Sorrenti and Testino, and the value of just getting things done without asking a lot of questions.
Imran Amed, Founder and Editor in Chief, The Business of Fashion
School: McGill University
Major: Finance and International Business
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? Problem solving, structural thinking and of course, how to build and run my own business.
Claire Mazur, Co-founder, Of a Kind
School: University of Chicago
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (basically a "mix and match your own major, so it was English with an emphasis on dramatic texts, Art History and Gender Studies)
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned to think critically -- to question things, to come up with own way of thinking about them, and to craft a solid argument around it all.
John Jannuzzi, Senior Digital Projects Editor, Lucky
School: Muhlenberg College
Major: Studio Art
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? I learned a lot about dealing with people and networking. Anybody who tells you that isn't important in any industry is lying. My actual curriculum included a lot of history, and the basic concepts of design which in turn formed a lot of my opinions on collections and fashion in general. It also helps me pick out inspirations much faster. Style is cyclical and there are so many parallels to pick out between the art world and the fashion world. There are a few other art majors I've met in the industry and they all sort of say the same thing.
Lela Rose, Designer, Lela Rose
School: University of Colorado; Parsons School of Design
Major: At the University of Colorado I majored in Painting & Sculpture. Then I earned an Associates Degree in Fashion Design at Parsons.
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? That grit, not grades, is what gets you further in work and life.
Ruthie Friedlander, Senior Digital Manager, The Row
School: New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Studies
Major: Computer Science and Journalism
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? In my role, I am constantly using my computer science skills, whether it's to manage the backend of a website, or in terms of how I approach problem solving. While I'm not longer an editor in the typical sense, my classes in journalism help me when constructing emails, writing press releases...you're always writing in every job and I'm glad to have that strong background.
Kaelen Haworth , Designer, Kaelen
School: Dalhousie Univerisity (in Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Major: English Literature
What did you learn in college that you use in your work today? The importance of having an honest and original voice. Also a drink or two helps.