5 Things I Learnt From My Graphic Design Degree

This article was written for Study101.

Milton Glaser states, “there are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for”, and if you’re looking to use or develop skills to create the ‘WOW’ then Graphic Design might just be for you.

But, before you embark on your course selection, allow me to share some wisdom from my experience of studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts with a major in Graphic Design at the University of Wollongong.


My dream was to end up in the creative industry. Was I sure of exactly where I wanted to be? No. When it came to course selection in the midst of year 12, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I remember sitting down flicking through the UAC Guide feeling extremely overwhelmed. I just remember someone asking me what I was passionate about, and saying that I wanted to be creative and make a difference and that is exactly what led me to a degree in Graphic Design and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing!

Most people have a vague idea about the extent of design (it’s literally everywhere around you, from the bottle of water you purchased at the shops, to the course providers that you’re scrolling through, to the place you’re dreaming about taking a holiday to). Design gives people the power to make a difference, to see things differently. Let’s not forget to mention that being a designer the world is literally your oyster – you can achieve anything you wish and no two days are the same.


1. Take risks and push the boundaries. 
As designer Paula Scher states, “the greatest risk is not taking one”. As a designer, you will be constantly learning and every project will bring something new to the table. It is important to step outside of your comfort zone and say yes to things you may not be comfortable doing, often figuring out how to do it as you go. If you fail, see it as an opportunity to learn.

2. Appreciate criticism.
As you will put so much into your designs negative criticism can often feel very personal. It is important to step back, separate yourself from your work, and grow to appreciate feedback that will inevitability make you a better designer.

3. Ask questions.
If you refrain from asking questions you’re only inhibiting your ability to progress. You will need to ask your teachers or clients questions to better understand more about them, their brief and what it is they want to achieve. Ask for feedback and share ideas with people around you such as your classmates and colleagues, and never forget to ask yourself questions like “does this answer the brief?”

4. Be self-motivated & experiment.
Studying at university will provide you with knowledge or skills, but remember that there is always room to improve and in a dynamic field like graphic design you will need to constantly adapt to the changing environment around you. It is extremely beneficial to develop side projects and watch tutorials outside of your study, there are endless amounts of resources.

5. Most importantly believe in yourself and remember that great design takes time.
In the duration of my degree I often compared myself to others, but through time I realised that we are all unique and have our own individual strengths it is often just a journey of discovery and experimentation that will reveal what yours is. Remember to keep motivated and to continue to source inspiration within your daily life. Sometimes ideas and concepts may take longer than others, and you will find yourself rethinking and redeveloping within the duration of the project, but this will contribute to better design.


Check out Study101’s page if you’re looking for course information and more insights from other past and present students!