7 Things to Know BEFORE You Pursue a Graphic Design Degree

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Graphic design is an exciting career for many people. You get to express your creativity in a variety of ways that no other field might offer.

These days, graphic design, especially digital design, is high in demand with a promising future. Making it a much more desirable career path 

The first thing that comes to mind when choosing to pursue any career is a formal education. 

Before diving into graphic designing there are many things you should look out for. 

This article will hopefully help you make a decision on wanting to pursue a graphic design degree and whether it’s the best fit for you.

1. Expenses start stacking up

For almost every college or uni student the main struggle is the money. Most students can’t afford to pay for a good education which can be a major downside to any degree program. 

Sure, you could get a student loan and start your education but in graphic design there are several other expenses.

Other than the usual tuition fees, students are expected to invest in textbooks, art supplies and design software. These things can be expensive and may require recurring payments.

For example, when it comes to design software the industry-standard software is Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe’s products are great for graphic designing but there also quite expensive. 

Adobe Creative Cloud has the following pricing packages:

  • $52.99/mo – Annual plan, paid monthly
  • $599.88/yr – Annual plan, prepaid
  • 74.49/mo – Monthly plan

The good thing is that Adobe offer a 60% discount to students (That’s You!)

Adobe offers the following pricing models for students and teachers:

  • $19.99/mo Annual plan, paid monthly for the first year – then 29.99/mo
  • $239.88/yr Annual plan, prepaid for the first year – then $359.88/yr

With this package you will also get access to your own portfolio to showcase your work. This is going to be a life saver in the future as you would need to showcase a professional portfolio to prospective clients and employers.

2. Practice makes perfect

This might not be a surprise for you as any kind of work you do requires practice before you become good at it.

Graphic designing requires a lot of time and effort to perfect as it is subjective. Meaning what looks good to you might not make sense to others.

As a professional graphic designer you would need the ability to communicate your message across a broader audience. This takes time to understand and implement in your designs. 

No college or university will teach you to how to design for every single industry. Rather you will learn the fundamental and core concepts of graphic design which are applied in every design. 

Then it is up to you on how to implement them according to your client or customer’s needs. You won’t know how to this initially (you’re no mind reader) but as you practice this art more you’ll have a tighter grasp on the concepts.

3. Being bored is part of the process

When you first step into graphic designing you would stare in awe at the endless possibilities this field has to offer. 

But then as your courses start you’ll notice some things won’t meet your expectations.

Graphic designing is far beyond creating cool looking logos and posters. In university, you’ll come to know that there is a proper process before you crank out your laptop.

Being a professional graphic designer is just as much about working on tedious boring jobs as it is building cool brands that require lots of creativity. - Natalie Downey, senior designer at Duckpin.

You’ll have to conduct research, ask a lot of questions, understand the objectives, and then start designing. 

When you get your hands dirty with actual clients you should know that their needs come first. This means majority of the times you won’t be designing things you love in the way you love them.

4. You're never done with it

You don’t become a graphic designer once you get your degree as learning doesn’t stop when the classes do.

The graphic designing industry is getting more and more competitive every day. To stand out, people are innovating and graphic design is constantly evolving. 

To excel in this career, you have to adapt to ever-changing design trends and technology.

5. You have lots of career options

You might have heard people sometimes be worried for the career path they have chosen. They might realize that it’s not for them and they would like to switch. However, many careers aren’t that flexible which can lead to being frustrated with your career choice.

Fortunately, graphic design is a broad field with a lot of career options. A graphic designer could be anything, illustrator, animator, game designer, ux designer etc. The possibilities are endless.

While studying, you might notice your interests constantly shifting. One day you’d be interested in ux design whereas later you might feel like moving towards product design.

Switching careers is much more flexible as a graphic designer as most of them are related to some extent.

Here are 11 of the highest-paying graphc design jobs with a promising future.

6. Don't take things personally

When entering any creative field get ready to be criticized, a lot.

Many designers are guilty of pouring their heart and soul into a piece of design just to get it rejected by everyone else.

Design is subjective and different people might hold different views than you. This means something that looks good to you might not actually be practicable.

However, college/university is the time to make mistakes and take risks.

It’s like Seth Godin says: “Whoever fails the most, wins.”

So, don't take things to heart and keep moving forward.

7. Your portfolio matters the most

In graphic designing, your portfolio is going to be the main star of the show.

Graphic design is living proof of the term, “show, don’t tell”.

Most of the time, clients won’t even talk to you unless you have a strong portfolio to back yourself up.

A portfolio is a professional presentation of the work you’ve done as a graphic designer.

Some graphic design universities don’t require you to have a portfolio when applying and would help you prepare one as you progress in the course.

This already puts you way ahead of all the competition with no or low-quality portfolios.

Conclusion

If you’re passionate about graphic design, determined to working hard, and can handle tight deadlines you should definitely pursue this career.

These 7 things might be a harsh reality for some but will help you set realistic expectations for yourself. 

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