10 Things You Need To Know When Starting Graphic Design School

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In a world taken over by social media, with information at the tip of your fingers, career paths that lean towards the digital genre are becoming more appealing, and more popular. We advertise online and on television, we communicate through the touch of a screen, and we buy, sell, and trade all in digital form. For those with a love for technology and talent in art, a Graphic Design Associate Degree may be a perfect fit for you. Before taking the plunge, here are some things that will help you get on the right track to becoming a successful graphic design school student.


1. Have A Solid Portfolio

Now that you’ve come to a point in your life where you are seriously considering graphic design school, it’s also a good time to make sure you have a-rockin’ portfolio. Show prospective schools your talent by compiling your best work. Chances are you were sketching away designs during class in high school anyways. Bring those designs and sketches to life by presenting them in your portfolio. Once you’ve been accepted into a graphic design school, keep going! Graphic design courses will give you the chance to create interesting, unique, and creative work in a variety of mediums. Your time spent learning the skills you’ll need for a successful career in graphic design is the best time to develop your portfolio under the expert direction of your instructors. Attending courses at a technical college for a graphic design associate degree will allow you to stay focused on graphic design and design concepts, making each assignment you do a potential creative piece for your portfolio.


2. Have An Interest In Business

Whether you aspire to work for a firm or start your own after graphic design school, business knowledge is a must. If you have the opportunity to attend graphic design courses consider adding some business courses to strengthen your skillset. Business knowledge can help you increase the visibility of your products and services while creating a stronger identity for yourself, brand, or future business in the design world. Even the time spent in school working towards your degree can be utilized to start making a name for yourself in the design world.


3. Clients Will Come First

While attending your graphic design courses you’ll be given the freedom to make most of the creative decisions, and while you will always be working toward a deadline or assignment due date, these projects can be completed around your own schedule.  It is important to know that while you will be producing the final product, many designers must work around the schedules and within the timeline of their client’s needs. This often means late nights working on a project with a deadline, and even incorporating some elements that you may not be completely in favor of. Many clients come to designers with a vision, and it is your job to turn that vision into a reality.


4. Pay Attention In Art Class

Getting a graphic design associate degree doesn’t mean everything you learn will be on a screen. Learning how to draw and sketch is an important skill you should continue to perfect while attending graphic design school. Building a visual vocabulary to communicate your ideas is another benefit of attending graphic design classes. While being able to draw your layout plans is essential, knowledge of color coordination and schemes is also important. These fundamentals, along with typography, and layout concept and design are just some of the courses graphic design schools offer.

5. Be Prepared To Invest

Not only will you be spending money on books and tuition, but you will also need to invest in a good computer and some sort of software. While sketching still plays a role, most of your time in graphic design classes will be spent using creative software like Adobe Creative Cloud and Serif DrawPlus X8. While your school will provide you with a list of the required software programs and equipment, keep yourself in the know by researching the latest tools being utilized by top designers. Along with investing in software programs, buying yourself a quality computer to work on during graphic design school can make all the difference. Consider a fast computer with plenty of memory space to store creative files, and opting for a larger screen can make designing easier. Most graphic design schools recommend Apple work stations, and students will often create designs using DSLR cameras, HD video cameras, and large-format printers.


6. Be Prepared For Late Nights, Odd Hours, And Deadlines

Design school, like any other schooling, comes with more assignments than you hope for, which means you live your life by a deadline or due date. While you can make your own schedule while working toward a graphic design degree, you should still be prepared to manage your time according to the demands of others. Design projects will come from you, and this means that you will most likely spend late nights awake and hunched over your work striving for perfection. When a final product is a direct representation of ourselves, our creativity, and our talents, we tend to work on it until our eyes run dry, and the sun comes up. Coffee anyone?


7. Stay Up To Date On Design Trends

You don’t have to be a graphic design school graduate to start keeping yourself up-to-date. Expect to continuously discover new trends emerging in aesthetics and design concepts. In today’s ever-evolving world, technology is changing at lightning-fast speed, and you’ll need to brush up on your skills every day. Luckily with information at our fingertips, this has never been easier. Doing things like attending design conferences like the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Design) conference can benefit your education and you’ll learn about emerging trends and technologies from experts in the field. Even graphic design books and magazines can introduce you to the latest aesthetic and technology trends. Graphic design schools will offer these materials and opportunities, so make sure you take advantage of them.


8. Always Be Willing To Learn

If you plan on obtaining a graphic design associate degree expect to learn, even after you feel like an expert. Your time attending graphic design courses is just the beginning of a long path to inspiration. Graduating from graphic design school doesn’t mean you can stop learning. Technology isn’t going to stop bringing the next best thing to the table, and neither should you. Participate in continuing education at your local technical or community college. Whether it is a business, computer technology, or art class you take, learning new skills, along with sharpening those you already have are great ways to stay ahead of the game. In fact, any classes you take after your degree will hold value when applying for jobs or creating your own brand or company.


9. Plan On Completing An Internship

One of the best things about taking graphic design classes is earning course credit for completing an internship. Your internship as a student is a chance to work alongside the experts in your field and build relationships with those influential people. You could gain experience with marketing agencies, media companies, retail businesses, or even a television network! Not only does your internship earn you credits toward your graphic design degree, the connections you will make often promise employment after graduation. As a student taking graphic design courses, you won’t be sure what you are capable of until you apply and start a position that gives you real-world experience.  Look at it as job training, take it seriously, and learn from it.


10. A Degree In Graphic Design Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Do Other Things

Making the decision to pursue a graphic design associate degree is exciting. There has never been a more versatile degree to have. Whether you choose to work directly for a graphic design firm when you graduate, or if life pulls you in another direction, the need for individuals with the skill and knowledge a graphic design student will learn are some of the most useful for a company or brand looking to build or expand a business. In graphic design school, you will learn to use computers and design software, but you will also learn other skills like desktop publishing software, and even calligraphy. Advertising agencies, newspapers, marketing companies, and restaurants all thrive because of the contributions their graphic designers make. Don’t feel restricted to a position that focuses on the design either. Many professional positions need the skills of a designer for tasks that focus on things like marketing, customer service, and communications. Something as routine as writing a monthly newsletter for your company can require design and layout skills that graphic design school will have instilled in you.