Pre-College Training

Hello all, I am a sophomore in high school and have been incredibly amazed by the work that I have seen from this site and others. I have always had an interest in design, and when I discovered google sketch-up a few years back it gave me a chance to put some of my sketches into 3d form, which I enjoyed. Through that process I felt that I acquired a very good understanding of design for my age, and have been largely interested in that area since. Recently I have been trying to improve my sketching, 3d modeling, and overall design understanding. I would love to peruse a career in ID, and I am simply wondering, how should I go about preparing for this. I feel that I am already set when it comes to resources, I can digitally, and physically paint fairly well, and I have moved on from Sketch-up to more advanced programs such as Blender and the student versions of AutoCad, and Maya, and I am wondering what I could do to help improve my overall understanding of design before college.

During the beginning of my interest in design, I was looking at mechanical engineering, but as I have learned more, it seem as if that is far more technical than what I was hoping to do, and started looking at industrial design, or product design as other areas of interest. Is this a correct assumption?

Thanks for any responses!


Since college is expensive, and you are currently interested in design, I think you should do the following:

  1. Locate some design and architecture professionals near where you live, and talk to them about what they do. Talk to some engineering and marketing/advertising people too - you might come away with a different impression of those other creative fields. See if they will let you shadow them for a few days or weeks this summer or if they will let you do some kind of part time work. Find out if you like the work environment.

  2. If you school offers industrial technology courses (shop), take some of those and learn how things are made. Take some business courses too if they’re offered since design above all is business.

  3. Find companies that make things where you live - machine shops, cabinetmakers, foundries, pottery and crafts, plastic molders, etc. See if they’ll let you tour their facilities. If you take shop this may be part of the course.

  4. Have fun and be a teenager. You have the rest of your life to worry about your career.

I took as many tech classes in high school as possible as well as art classes. I was lucky in that my high school amazingly had all kinds of drafting and CAD classes even (in 1992, not bad). I think these tech classes combined with all the painting and drawing classes were a nice skill based foundation.

Some colleges like RISD have summer programs for high school students, and my classmates that had done that tended to be far superior.

Keep reading an posting on here as well. Several of our posters that started as high school students or young college students have gone on to do great things. Asking questions, interacting with professionals, and posting your work will make you a stronger designer faster.

You could definitely benefit from a summer program at many of the design schools. Art Center’s at night program is very strong.

Absorb as much design as you can… go to the library, check out some books… there’s more to design than Yanko.

Probably the best way to prepare for design is to actually do some design. See a design challenge/competition somewhere? Do it. See a product that you don’t think is that good? Redesign it! The more you do, the more you learn, especially from your mistakes. Posting your work on here will help you grow exponentially. Good luck!

Thanks for the tips guys. Unfortunately, due to my location (Thailand) there really aren’t that many design focused colleges, or colleges in general that provide good courses in these areas. I do have the internet fortunately, from which I can learn from sites such as this. Again, thanks for the help.