We’d argue that you can become a truly successful graphic designer without any kind of formal education in the business, but then again, we recognize the fact that getting a degree is a much safer, guided, and overall efficacious process. With that in mind, if you’re looking to gain entrance (some would say, “Be matriculated”) at a graphic design school, we figure you might want a few pointers. We’ve polled around and done our homework, and our results have been posted below for your gain. So without further ado, march on, Student Joe, and dive straight into our tips for gaining admission to any design institution in the country!

  1. Keep A Varied Portfolio: No matter where you’re applying, you’ll want to ensure that you have a wide, comprehensive, and versatile portfolio. This means doing concept pieces in areas you have no experience, as well as choosing selectively from the field you’ve done a lot of work in. You don’t want to look like a one-trick pony—or 80s hair metal band—so take the time to genuinely think through your selections, choosing only those pieces that compliment your diverse skills as a designer.
  2. Be Artsy: When applying to a design school, most institutions will want to see at least a basic level of artistic ability. This means bringing in some form of validation for your art skills, or some piece designed to demonstrate your ability to wield a pencil. Drawing is an essential skill for any graphic designer, and universities will want to know that you can.
  3. Dress to Impress: We understand your pain: Why should you, the artsy designer who wears nothing but hemp clothing and underwear the whole day through, have to put on a business suit for an interview at a design school? The simple answer: They’ll want you to. We now you’re a free-spirited sun child, but if you can’t demonstrate even a basic level of compliance with modern culture, you aren’t likely to get a call back. We don’t like it anymore than you, but that’s just the facts, ma’am.

These tips by no means guarantee you a spot at a design school, but they’ll certainly set you along your way! At the end of the day, just remember to be confident. You aren’t expected to know everything, but the best candidates display a deep level of self-confidence and willingness to learn. Shine these like the human torch, and you’ll be going places.