How do graphic designers prepare for school?

Graphic designers are responsible for producing the layout and artistic elements of a wide variety of products, from food packaging to book covers to road signs. It’s not surprising that many of the most successful have a degree either in design or a related field.

Your graphic design school experience will teach you the fundamentals, but getting the most out of it is up to you. How your education shapes your future career is determined by choices you make in school, including which one you choose to attend.

Read on for a list of tips to help you get your education started on the right foot.

10 Ways to Prepare for School

1. Pick Your Passion

It is possible to graduate from graphic design school and not know how you want to specialize your career. However, if you know ahead of time which direction you’re headed, you can enroll in classes that will help you maximize your experience.

2. Invest in a Good Computer

Sketching still plays a role in the field, but the bulk of your time will be spent manipulating graphics using software such as Adobe Photoshop® and other programs in the Adobe Creative Suite®. You’ll master these programs in graphic design school, but you’ll need a fast, updated computer with a lot of memory to create and save large graphic files. A large computer display monitor is also worth the investment, because it will make designing easier. Don’t forget to take advantage of student discounts on computers and software.

3. Talk to Graphic Design School Graduates

There is no better way to get a feel for graphic design school than to interview recent graduates. If you don’t know anyone who recently attended your school, ask an admissions officer to connect you with someone. You’ll find out who the best professors are and learn tricks for getting into popular graphic design courses. You can also research this information on the Web.

4. Prepare Your Portfolio

Graphic designers use portfolios to highlight their talents and showcase their best work. While you may not have a long list of projects under your belt just yet, starting to think about your portfolio can help to guide your best work in graphic design school. With some planning and forethought, you’ll be able to use your classroom assignments to help you build a well-rounded graphic design portfolio.

5. Learn Another Language

That is, learn at least the basic elements of computer programming languages such as HTML and JavaScript. With the bulk of graphic design done for online media, rookie graphic designers can’t afford to ignore them. A working knowledge of these and other current languages will help you create designs that function in an online atmosphere.

6. College Preparatory Courses

Obviously, gaining admittance to a college or university is one of the first steps in becoming a graphics design major. Since high school transcripts play a major role in college admission, students should choose activities and courses that make them good candidates. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that students interested in college take challenging courses in math and science. Learning a foreign language and basic computer skills are also a plus. If a student has a particular college or university in mind, they can contact the school to discover exactly what it specifically requires for admission.

7. Performing Arts Courses

Students intrigued by graphic design should take as many art courses as possible. Exploring drawing, painting, printing, photography, art history and other similar subjects helps teens broaden their understanding of how art functions, refine their own art skills and develop a portfolio of varied works that might aid them in their college admission process. While many high schools offer limited art classes, many colleges have courses or summer programs for high school students.

8. English Courses

According to The Princeton Review, graphic designers report strong communication skills are vital to their professional success. A large part of graphic design involves creating effective advertising and marketing. Graphic designers must be able to sell a product, and they must be able to sell themselves and their work to the companies who hire them. The writing skills honed in English classes can prepare students to produce clean, error-free copy. More importantly, the analytical skills they learn can help them examine the message they are trying to get across and the audience they are trying to reach, enabling them to discover effective ways to communicate with their designs.

9. Computer Courses

Computers are everywhere in the modern world, and art is no exception. Much of today’s graphic design work is for websites. Many graphic design majors include web design in their curriculum. Classes in programming languages, computer graphics, desktop publishing, web design and computer animation can give students a real head start.

10. Business Courses

Many graphic design majors require students to study business as well. It makes a great deal of sense; some graphic designers become entrepreneurs, operating their own graphic design firms. But, even when graphic designers are employed by newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies, public relations firms or graphic design companies, most of their clients are businesses. Understanding how businesses work aids graphic designers in better understanding and meeting their clients’ needs. Business classes also prepare students to work within a budget while still producing the quality product promised.

People studying graphic design in college have many exciting ways they can use their graphic design degree. Colleges and universities provide undergraduate and graduate degrees in graphic design with numerous concentrations that allow students to focus on the specific area that most intrigues them. But, students should not wait until they reach college. Taking courses that increase their odds of college admission and making the most of their opportunities to study the arts, English, computers and business in high school can help them prepare for a graphics design major.