Retrospective: Studying Design

As this semester is drawing to a close, I want to focus my final blog post of the year on my journey through school thus far. The end of this semester marks the halfway point of my schooling in Graphic Design at Conestoga.

As a student of Graphic Design, I obviously feel that it is important to study this field in a post-secondary environment. While you can become a very successful self-taught designer, the experience from your faculty is invaluable. Also being constantly surrounded by your peers is incredible as they can offer you immediate feedback that can save you a lot of embarrassment before bringing your idea to the faculty.

Another helpful aspect of school is preparing you for the harsh criticism that will inevitably come your way. The faculty will critique your work—don’t get me wrong—but they come from a desire to push you to be a better designer. They are there to see you succeed and enter the workforce to cast a good reflection on not only yourself, but the program by extension. Getting criticism is always tough, but having heard it from both faculty and clients, it’s easier to hear coming from industry experts who know what they’re talking about.

Stress is going to be present in any career but there is an added facet when it comes to design. As designers we need to be creative all the time, even if it’s midnight on a Sunday because your client just told you they actually need that latest project for this Monday, not next Monday. School helps prepare you for that because you will be working on six projects at once with three due this week and still manage to come out of the other side alive, if a little less well-rested than you would like. Another additional bonus of this is your future employers will be very impressed with your ability to work under stress and still churn out amazing work. The added camaraderie of being up late and strung out on caffeine with your classmates is also a big plus.

Speaking of classmates, these people that you are sharing the two, three, four, or however many years in school with aren’t going to disappear into the design ether once you graduate; these people will become your colleagues, bosses, or employees someday. They can help you get jobs or even prevent you from getting them. The same goes for other years in your program, your faculty, and past graduates. You are basically getting a free network that can connect you to a world of possibilities.

If you choose to pursue a career in design, or anything creative really, you’re going to meet a lot of opposition. Naysayers will constantly be asking you if you think you can really get a job, or that you’re wasting your time, or ask if you just aren’t clever enough for a “real job” (yes, people will ask that). That is unfortunately the nature of our society. However, if you do choose to go to school for design, know that the rewards you will receive far outweigh the costs and you will never stop learning, even after you graduate.

Considering design school? Need advice? Have an alternative to design school? Tell me in the comments!




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