10 Things Every Design Student Should Know to Succeed

Mydee Lasquite

Written by:
Mydee Lasquite


Earning a degree in graphic design can be challenging. It takes an enormous amount of patience, hard work and strategic planning to get through numerous deadlines, periodic examinations and year-level challenges.

The list below covers useful tips for design students that are proven to double productivity and improve your performance.



The most important thing a design student should learn and value is organization at all times, in all areas of learning. Calendar management is one. An ordinary calendar can serve as a planner. Detail everything on your calendar to help you keep track of everything you need to accomplish for each day, week, month or semester.

Use the calendar to keep track of your deadlines, your college papers and your project progress. Today’s smartphones, tablets and computers come with calendars you can adjust to your personal preference. You can also download calendar applications and task reminders to help you make the most of your time.

You can end up falling behind and missing important assignments and essays if you don’t list your deadlines in chronological order. Use your calendar for assignment help by listing deadlines to get a better idea of how much time you need to set apart for each project.

Learn to stick to your deadlines and make it a point not to miss any assignment as this reflects your ability to meet expectations later on in your career.


Learn to Prioritize

Knowing when to study and party is a survival tip for any student. Think of it this way: You should have twice as much time for working on design projects or assignments or being an essay writer as you do for social activities. Design is a demanding area of study but also a rewarding career.

Learn to prioritize. This also applies to project and subject management. If you can determine which subjects needs more of your attention, then you can focus on those. Following this tip will also free up time for improving your performance in other classes.


Master the Art of Overestimation

Design requires time. A student in design should know early on that every project or assignment that will be required during the course of study cannot be done overnight. Most often than not, projects will be assigned  ahead of time and will require days or even weeks and months to complete, depending on the difficulty of the subject matter.

Train yourself to overestimate the amount of time needed for each project.  An important tip for design students is to never eyeball the amount of time you think you will need. If by chance you finish the project before your estimated time, then you will have extra time to do other things or review and improve what you have just completed.

When you land a career in design, you will find that overestimation will save you time, allow you to be detail-oriented and be more efficient in your responsibilities.


Establish Your Network

Design has various specializations. When you start working, you will find yourself needing the expertise of professionals from other areas. As of now, you can start reaching out to potential partners, friends and fellow designers who can assist you when you get your degree and establish your career.

Be friendly and make sure you get connected to people who in the future might  be working for other agencies or specializing in other fields. Establish real connections, both for personal growth and your professional future.


Keep the Passion and Momentum

Design work is demanding and at some point may become frustrating. You can survive your studies by being passionate about your course work and enjoying every challenge. Passion fuels creativity, which is the most important requirement of design.

Ask yourself every now and then why you entered design school and keep reminding yourself of that reason.  This will enable you to complete your studies with enthusiasm and become successful in your field.

7.Be creative

Be and Stay Creative

In The Top Essential Skills of a Designer, we covered the career paths a design graduate is most likely to follow. In this post on tips for design students, we mentioned that the most important requirement is the ability to remain creative throughout your career.

As a designer, your creative ability will be reflected in anything you produce. There may be times you will find your creativity will wane, but, there are ways you can maintain  and  improve creativity. You should be aware of this and never be afraid to accept that you are in need of inspiration and help coming up with ideas.

In the world of design, ideas are currency and without them, there is nothing you can offer. Always offer your ideas. If they are not welcomed, don’t get disappointed just yet. The world of design is as erratic as the world of marketing is, so keep those ideas flowing, store them and you may just need them in the future.


Be an Avid Learner

Learn as much as you can. Digest everything. Make the most of your time as a student in design. Learn from your classmates, team members and your teachers. Get some inspiration from your peers’ ideas and store up everything you see and hear in your creativity arsenal--you never know when you might need it in the future. Use the Internet, your books and every situation you encounter. Explore and learn. Experience everything around you, including success and failures, and learn from them.

Never refrain from learning something new every day. Experience is the best teacher, and we can only be a failure if we  stop learning what we fail to understand.


Invest in Your Portfolio

Invest time in building your portfolio. Learn how to handle your weaknesses and strengths. Collate your work and understand the reason why you have chosen certain pieces to form part of your portfolio. Knowing why will make it easier for you to answer why you have  chosen a particular piece to showcase.


Be Open to Criticism

You are in design school for a reason: to learn. Expect your professors and peers to critique your creations. Sensitivity has no place in learning. Criticism is given to help you make better choices and come up with better ideas  while you perfect your skill.

A critique is not a personal attack, but a meaningful way of telling you there is a room for improvement and that you can do better. A particular person’s opinion about your work is not the end of the world, nor does it make you a bad designer.

Avoid getting defensive when being given suggestions and feedback. Be open to what others have to say on how you can improve your work. Again, you can learn a lot from others..

Your work is created not only for your  satisfaction, but for your audience’s appreciation, hence it should be effective and beautiful in their eyes, even if it means disregarding your personal point of view and stepping out of your comfort zone.

11.Stay uptodate

Stay Up to Date with Design Trends

There are rules in design that are so basic that they still exist and are implemented to create harmonious and well-balanced creative projects.

And yet there are means and methods that are already classified as overused or ineffective. In a post on most overused design elements, we have provided a list of some of the most commonly used elements and techniques in design. They may still be good to use but in a rapidly and constantly changing world of visual design, one needs to learn new things and master their implementation to give a fresh and more contemporary presentation of visual elements and design.


Believe in Yourself

You can’t ask other people to value your work more than you do. How you see yourself will be reflected in your creations. It will also affect how you sell your work. If you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t believe in what you do and what it can produce, you will fail to sell it to others.

You have to understand that your time and effort is worth the price of your work. If you believe in yourself and value what you do, you will never be a prey of intimidation, and you will not be shaken by demeaning criticisms.

Design is a competitive industry and you need to know how much you are worth and take pride in it so that other people will see and respect it.

Woman practicing yoga on the beach at sunset in Koh Chang, Thailand

Breathe and De-Stress

The design business is hectic. Stress and anxiety are normal emotions most people experience in this field.  When you find yourself stuck and unable to generate ideas or find inspiration, take time to relax and calm yourself. Free yourself from overwhelming feelings and do whatever is necessary to get out of the funk. When you’re a student, you can push yourself to beyond your limits but take a break when something feels wrong or is not working right. This will help you regain peace of mind and give you a fresh eye. It can also offer a new perspective.

Designing is stressful, and you need to de-clutter and de-stress to give your creativity a chance to flourish.

Keep these tips for design students in mind while you are in school and it will make your studies much easier to complete.  You will have more time to accomplish everything and have better chances of performing better and even graduating with honors. With these accomplishments, you will have a better chance of showcasing the quality of your work, standing out among your peers and landing a good job.


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About the Author

Mydee is a content strategist at Visme’s Visual Learning Center. After years of writing for various companies to promote brands and products, her passion for content and love for offering valuable information landed her at Visme to help individuals and businesses make informed decisions and improve their communication and presentation skills.

3 responses to “10 Things Every Design Student Should Know to Succeed”

  1. shobika says:

    great thought, every design student should read!

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