It’s not long now until semester one of university will be upon us and pretty soon you’ll be getting into the swing of things, but before that exciting first day rolls around, there are some things that you’ll need to help you on your way! If this is your first year at design school, or you just need a refresher on some handy things to have with you as you continue your design school journey, I’m here to help!
First things first, you’re going to need a computer. The majority of assignments will require you to work digitally, whether that be designing something, doing research, writing essays or documenting your work in an online blog for example, so it’s a must have Universities generally provide desktop computers on campus which is handy during class time, but no so handy when you need to move to a different space or there aren’t any free, which is where the ease of a laptop comes in. Whether you prefer Mac or PC is entirely up to you; however, some resources at Massey University like typefaces are only available to download from the server in Mac format which makes it more difficult from a PC and is basically the only reason I would recommend Mac. Also most other people use MacBooks so it’s easy to transfer files between peers which is great for group projects. Whatever you decide, just remember that it should last you the 4 years of your degree at least, so make sure you do your research and choose something that’s going to be comfortable for you to purchase and use during that time. I’ve been rocking my Macbook Pro since 2011, I updated the hard drive and RAM in 2015 to revitalise it, and it’s still serving me well!
It’s all good and well having a computer, but you can’t just fill it up with documents left, right and centre or it’ll slow down real quick, I promise you. This means you’re going to need somewhere separate to store all of your work so that it doesn’t get lost. You could purchase an external hard drive or USB to do this, but in my experience, these aren’t too reliable. I think I’ve had three external hard drives all break on me, and that’s no fun when all your work is gone! I very quickly learnt that an easier and safer way to store my documents was in the cloud. Services like Google Drive and Dropbox are a super handy way to keep your documents organised and on hand wherever you are and it’s been a lifesaver and a game changer for me! Storing your work in the cloud means that it’s always there, and you can sync things offline if you’re going to be out of internet for a period of time. It allows you to collaborate with others and share files with them easily. I’m currently using Google Drive and it’s amazing!
If there’s been any one item that’s helped me get through design school the most, it’s been my diary. Uni can get a bit hectic with trying to remember dates for assignments, homework that’s due, meetings for group projects and even more, so it pays to keep track of it all. Rather than forgetting things and getting them confused or mixed up, stay on top of it by writing it all down in a diary or on a calendar. This takes all of the things you need to remember out of your head and onto paper, freeing up your mind for more important and exciting things and reducing your stress. I also find my diary super helpful in planning the work I need to get done. If I know that I’ve got work to be done by next Tuesday, but I’ve got work in the weekend and some other classes, I can plan what work I need to get done on what days to ensure that I get it done in time. This helps you stay on top of things and sometimes even get ahead! It’s also super satisfying to write down something that needs to be done, and then crossing it off when you’ve done it! I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for my diary, I fill up basically a whole page almost every day! I’ve used the same brown leather Typo diary for 4 years now mostly because I just love having a page per day!
Drink bottle + snacks
Sometimes days at uni can be long, especially if you’ve got a full day of classes and then homework to do afterwards. You also use up a lot of brainpower and energy working all day and exercising your creativity so you need to stay fed and hydrated to keep you going. It’s important to look after yourself while you’re working hard so that you don’t get burnt out, so bringing a drink bottle and some healthy snacks to school will help you do that. There’s been days when I’ve forgotten to eat because I’m so into my work but trust me, it’s not pretty when you’re exhausted and run down the next day so don’t forget to take a break, snack on some treats and keep up that water intake! I bring my black Takeya drink bottle with me everywhere I go and it’s a great help!
Being surrounded by your peers while you’re at uni is super inspiring and motivating, but sometimes you just need to get your head down and work without distractions. I’m an introvert, so I can handle classes, group projects and working with others, but there are definitely times when I just need to be alone, and I certainly focus more when I’m not distracted by people around me. Having a good pair of headphones not only indicates to other people that you’re in the zone and not to be disturbed, but it helps to shut out distractions and focus on what’s in front of you. It can also help inspire you and boost your creativity too! Whether you listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks or anything else, plugging in and getting on with it is a good tactic to getting stuff done. I swap and change between the generic Apple earphones and a pair of Marshall Major II Pitch Black headphones, depending on my mood and/or what I grab first on the way out of the house in the morning!
I hope these suggestions are helpful, and that you’re getting excited about the year ahead! I’d love to hear what you’re getting together for design school and any questions about what’s in store for your first year, so don’t hesitate to ask!
Much love, Hollie! :D