Undergrad anxiety

I’m senior in high school and I’m anxiously trying to figure out my future. I’ve applied to and been accepted to a few schools for their industrial design program. I’m really leaning toward SCAD due to a number of conveniences the school would offer me such as scholarships, tuition rewards, and other non-classroom related perks. What I’m really worried about is my lack of experience. I’ve taken a few art classes throughout high school but nothing serious. I’m not terrible at sketching but I lack a few basic fundamentals (and confidence). I know it’s an undergraduate program so I won’t be the only one going in blindly but the idea of committing to an art school (and spending a lot money on it) then getting there only to be blown out of the water by everyone else terrifies me. I really just want to know what I’m expected to know/be familiar with upon my arrival. Any guidance, advice, or words of encouragement would help! Thanks in advance.

I wouldn’t worry about the skill level of your peers. If anything, you want to be blown out of the water so you have people that you can learn from. Coming from a school where 100% of students are accepted, what I’ve come to notice is that those who are disciplined and work hard succeed and improve week by week. I also think coming out of high school to enter a field this competitive is going to test your character and maturity. Will you go out every weekend? Are you willing to sacrifice sleeping in? When all of your peers not in industrial design are going to the clubs, how will you react?

I would say expect classes to be easier than they should be. If you’re only being assigned five pages of sketches each week it’s up to you to recognize the issue and increase your work load on your own.

Lastly, get feedback. My first semester I emailed my perspective instructor every other day at 2-3 in the morning, and then found him that day to get feedback on my work. Be proactive, post your sketches on here, push your instructors and peers and work hard!

And the most important is to have fun doing it all!

better to be the worst kid in an awesome class than the best kid in a mediocre one. Go to the school you think will push you the most. That is what you are paying for.

^-- Wise words.

You are what you make yourself in this life. Just because a student who might come from a charter art school can draw better than you out of the gate doesn’t mean they’ll apply themselves as hard for 4 years.

You aren’t expected to know anything, and if you’ve already been accepted they clearly have judged you as “knowing” what is needed for admissions. In the mean time you have a full summer to pick up some books on sketching and spend an hour or two a day doing it, and you’ll be in a good spot in no time.

If it gives you any reassurance… I went in to undergrad with nothing but AP Art History and a basic art night class at a local college on my art education resume, and just before starting undergrad I had a practicing industrial designer tell me I should give up and do something else based on my lack of existing art ability/experience. I survived school, graduated, and am a practicing professional. Granted I went to a public liberal arts school, not a dedicated art school.

Yes, it can be discouraging when you look around and feel like everyone is starting a stair above you, but then you have all the more motivation to improve when they have more reason to feel complacent. Like Yo said, you’re there to learn. You will probably learn as much or more from your awesome classmates as you will from your teachers.

I wouldn’t worry too much, just push yourself!

It seems most colleges and universities want fine arts experience to enter their Industrial Design programs. I believe the reason behind this is that they want you to have a certain level of skill yet still be “moldable” and not completely set in your ways. There is some truth to this kind of thinking, and I did enjoy and benefit from the fine arts learning in high school and freshman year of college (foundation year).

That being said, while ID does overlap with some of the more classical arts – fine arts anatomical drawing, painting from observation, etc. – it is it’s own thing. In my freshman foundation year, I was blown away by some of the other students who were true beasts at charcoal drawing and oil painting … but when we ended up in ID the next year, it was like we were all starting from more of a “blank slate” and level playing field, so it was not as though the high school skills/experience necessarily translated (don’t get me wrong, those skills do help and I wish myself that I had more of that). But this is a good thing if you did not have as much experience in high school.

Relating to Aaron’s post above, he makes a good point about being motivated and passionate. Hopefully, you will get to the point where you find a part of ID that you really enjoy, and you look forward to working on that stuff late at night, whether weeknights or weekends. Like he says, you cannot assume that the school classes (once you get into ID) will always give you either enough work, or the right kind of work that you need to improve, so it is good to have your own projects that you look forward to doing too.

Good advice has already been given above. Don’t freak out, it’ll come… given hard, passionate and dedicated work.

But I would like to stress, that ID is about a lot more than hot sketching, though it might not seem this way for somebody just about to enter the field.
Just because you have the best 3/4 view hand render, doesn’t mean you have the best understanding of the brief, subject matter, trend analysis or CMF ideas.
Communicating your ideas is one of many important skills you will pick up during your education and I would encourage you to not get to hung up on the sketching.

That you are invested and a little nervous is a good thing. You seem like you have the right attitude. Just don’t get overwhelmed and you’ll do well.

Good advice bepster. I agree, ID is about understanding of how things work and how to create valuable solutions, not just artsy renders. Thinking of all the things I learned in school, for me the most helpful to me right now at work was learning to communicate with others effectively, keeping a time budget, creating engaging presentations, and all those darn DFM DFA intro classes. Sketching is something I just had to pick up along the way in order to figure out and communicate my ideas (ones that work in the real world).

Great point. A sketch is just a rapid visualization of an idea… bad idea = bad sketch, no matter how technically proficient. I’ve seen so many technically fantastic sketches of bad ideas that companies tried to make because the sketch was ‘hot’, and many technically horrible sketches of fantastic ideas that were never made because people couldn’t ‘see it’.

As pointed out above, you are going to school to learn. There will be those who maybe have a jump start on you, but some of those guys flare out because they are used to being the best. When someone like you eclipses them, they take it hard :wink:

Go to the best school possible, work your butt off, and make it happen.