Saturday, February 18, 2012

Surviving 1142: A Students' Perspective

I sent a survey to solicit the advice of previous 1142 students. I asked them to give the incoming students some advice and tips for surviving 1142 (and just the program in general). They were asked "What advice do you have for incoming students? Based off of your own experiences in the course, what do they need to do to be successful?" Below are the responses that I got.

"Make sure you're on time. Getting to class even a few minutes after it's started will throw you off. Make sure you pay attention to your professor; they have valuable advice, and they want you to succeed. They're also available to answer any questions you have, so don't be afraid to ask. This first class/semester is all about learning new things or expounding on what you've already taught yourself or learned prior to college. Take the time to continue learning outside the classroom, on your own. It will enhance your time in class, and give you an upper hand on your peers. Take these graphics courses seriously. Valencia's program is very well-respected in the Central Florida community, so treat your time in the program with equal respect."

"First of all, time wise, you have to be aware that EVERYTHING takes longer than you expect. Never underestimate your assignments, and don't think that you can do the tutorial or whatever project in an hour or so. If you do you are not going to finish. Be consistent, turn in every project, every tutorial — if you miss one assignment you jeopardize your chances of passing the class. Try to be resourceful, learn about famous designers, artists, etc. You have to educate your eye into graphics! You have to look at GOOD quality work, amazing astonishing blow-your-mind-off pieces that inspire you to accomplish your vision for your projects. Even if it sounds over rated: Don't miss class!!! Every class, you learn so much, so many tools within each program. Remember this is all new, and graphics is not something everyone can help you with. Also, If you have the opportunity, ALWAYS ALWAYS do extra credit; it is ALWAYS worth it! "

"Don't wait until the last minute! No matter how much you don't want to do homework, you can't ever do your best under an extreme time constraint, and you really, REALLY need to try to do your best in these classes."

"Keep an open mind to critiques and find inspiration for projects your working on."

"The thing that got me through this course was trying to utilize all of my resources. Looking at examples of good design helped really helped me understand what my final projects should look like. The internet is a fabulous place. I got into a habit of looking at design blogs on a daily basis. I even came across this wondrous place - Barnes & Noble became a regular hang out for me.... I would sit there for hours looking through design magazine and books. Also, this class introduced me to Illustrator. I guess the best thing for Illustrator is just practice! Trying to achieve simple shapes and figures with the pen tool was daunting at first.... but I eventually got the hang of it :)"

"Never wait until the last minute to print and put together your project. Be prepared before the due date. This brings your confidence level up!"

"In order to be successful I would say you have to keep pushing yourself. If you think it is good, keep going a little longer and make it better. Tips: Watch a lot of tutorials. Always look for inspiration. before you start a project, or just make a folder of things you like and you can browse through later."

"Don't get overwhelmed with "pen tool" or "gradient mesh". Slow down, ask a question before you get too far behind to finish your project in a way that will make you happy."

"Keep a folder for all ur papers and stay organized ... And submit everything in the [process folder] envelope. It really helps ur grade more."

"From a designer point of view, consistently push yourself to make your next design better than your last. If you think you have done something good, save that file and try to make what you did better. Always reach out for inspiration by looking at other designers work... there is nothing wrong with looking but stealing is definitely bad and most important, SAVE OFTEN. From a business stand point, be motivated, friendly, and personable. Be ready to not only hear a lot of BS, but deal with a lot of it too. You can make the most beautiful designs and have a lot of great ideas but your clients will always have a different point of view. You will have people that will say things like "trust me, i know design and what you did looks like crap" and "i designed our last menu, place a box around that" when you KNOW that what you are doing looks WAAAAAYYYYYY better than anything they have done and SAVE OFTEN. Make yourself stand out above the crowd... make your business card something that people like, not a representation of things you like that look like crap. And SAVE OFTEN! Can't figure out how to do something? Don't be afraid to ask around. We are all in this together and should be willing to help each other out always listen to constructive criticism. Even if one of your fellow designers bashes your work, let that be a stepping stone to what direction your design takes... always make sure to make that design better and always keep in contact with your teachers. It isn't to brown nose, it is to ask them for any advice that you might need. They are here to help with everything design and possibly work related."

"I kept my workbook from essentials class and found myself referencing it in later classes for things I wanted to accomplish on other projects. I also HATED the pen tool and [Illustrator] at first. It took me about a month to get used to the pen tool and using a Wacom tablet helped me grasp it a lot. With only 2 semesters away from the print degree [Ilustrator] is now my absolute favorite and I feel the most confident in it. Best advice: Don't be afraid to ask questions, use the help box to find what drop down menu your looking for, and don't give up. Also, get your stuff printed and done at least 2 days before class. It's not worth the stress trying to finish things last minute. "

"Don't miss any classes! Every class is integral to doing well and getting a good grade. Remember, these are the basics you'll use for most other design classes. Also, don't put design and printing off until the last minute. You never know what problems can arise. You may need to print several times. Don't get stuck having done all of this work and nothing to show for it."

"1. Nothing prints the way it looks on the screen 2. TIME is your priority 3. The lab doesn't have computers for all the students, only for the #__ who got it first and wont leave for a long long time!"

"Don't try to do the best design the world has ever seen before, because you can't. Just worry about learning the programs. Don't worry about being on Flickr or competing with classmates, just worry about learning about the [material]."

"Students have to listen. To their professor, to their fellow students, to the feedback at the critique, to the project guidelines. Most of the students in my class that did not succeed... did not listen. When they graduate how will they be successful with clients if they don't listen to their client's needs? The real world is a lot more demanding when you are getting paid... if you can't handle 1142, you are in the wrong college track."

"Seriously, read your text book. Actively read the material and follow along as you work. There is no shortcut/quickie way to becoming proficient in these programs. You learn by doing, but you won't know what to do unless you learn it properly. Try to learn as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. It will increase productivity, and software layouts may change with new versions, but keyboard shortcuts won't. ( Don't forget to use Google. When you can't find something or don't understand, use Google to search for a tutorial or even a video tutorial. You certainly aren't the first person to have questions about the programs. Your instructors want you to learn and become great designers, but they won't spoon feed you the answers. You have to go out and learn it independently."

"Don't get mad at the instructors if you receive a low grade. In school the instructors are your clients. You have to please them. If you can't please the instructors how can you please your clients? I saw a ton of other students who would bitch about the instructors, how demanding they were, the grades that they received, the critique, the projects are too hard... etc. If you think the instructors are hard try demanding clients in the real world. They'll be in for a rude awakening."