I remember sitting on my bed in the freshman dorm. My hands couldn’t stop shaking as I waited for the right time to leave. It’s not bad to be twenty-five minutes early, right? Yes, I was excited. But on this day, my excitement was heavily masked with a layer of nervous energy.
This day happened seven years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. Yep I threw a cliché in here because it’s that important. So pay attention!
It was the day of my first college design class. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure an introduction to design class would necessarily teach me anything of value.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My college design class taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Even if you think you’re a design wizard, I highly recommend you take a class. So here’s what my college design class taught me.
Master the Basics
The reason I doubted this class before my first day was because I already knew how to design. I had watched videos and read articles online. I had been designing for years and felt like I knew what I was doing.
With that said, it was extremely helpful to get a refresher on the basics. There were even some techniques I had totally skipped over when I was self-teaching myself. Going over the basics was beneficial because it acted as a reminder, and also confirmed that I knew something about design after all!
Mastering the basics also helped my overall design process. And now, I no longer second-guess certain things I do. The basics come to me a lot quicker, which allows me to build on it more easily and create a better design. The ability to master the basics is well worth taking a college design class.
Learn From Experience
Reading chapters from a textbook and getting letter grades aren’t the best way to learn. You learn from experience. That’s what class gives you.
A college design class will challenge your skill and your perception of design. This will either confirm your design beliefs or force you to change and get better. You’ll have the experience of working on assignments you wouldn’t normally work on. This will make you step out of your comfort zone and get better in all aspects of design.
You’ll also learn from the experience of your professor. Your professor has worked with a lot of people and clients, and they can offer you knowledge that a YouTube video, blog post or textbook simply can’t. Don’t take their experience for granted. Ask your professor questions and listen to what they have to say.
Work With Others
Design can very easily be something you work on alone. It’s often your singular vision you’re working on, and you’re bringing it to life.
A college class shows you that working with others can elevate your designs to a whole new level. Design is about telling a story. Someone in your class might have a different perspective on how that story should be told that you haven’t thought of. They might’ve also learned different techniques and styles that you can learn from.
Working with others lets you share ideas and become inspired by your peers. Your fellow classmates can also push you to new heights.
How to Take Criticism
In my class, we had something called Critique Day. At first, these were the scariest days of the semester—and lovingly in bold and underlined in the syllabi. They occurred every month. Wonderful.
However, it soon became the most beneficial days of the entire class.
If you’re not familiar with Critique Day, it’s when people, specifically the professor, give feedback on each person’s work. The first Critique Day was stressful — I had never had my work broken down and critiqued by someone with a lot of design experience. I was afraid the feedback would tear my work apart and crush my spirits.
Instead, I learned that feedback, no matter how positive or negative it is, is helpful.
It forces you to reevaluate your work and make necessary changes you might’ve been avoiding. Critique makes sure you don’t take the easy way out, and it pushes you to be better.
On Critique Day, we would also have to give feedback to the other students. This was helpful because we learned how to give feedback to designers that will help them. You have to understand what they’re trying to accomplish and help them get better.
Are you procrastinating right now? Maybe you have a creative project you never get to? My college design class taught me the importance of setting deadlines and how to manage my time more effectively.
In class, we would have to meet deadlines for grades. These due dates gave me a goal that I set for myself. No matter what, I had to have my assignments finished on those dates. If I procrastinate, I was welcomed by an all-nighter and a pot of coffee.
Take a Class
Taking a college design class was the best decision I’ve ever made. Take a class, it doesn’t have to be design related, in order to learn how to deal with feedback, work with others and learn from experience!