What to do in a confusing situation prior to tertiary study?

Hi people,

This is one of the first times posting on this forum so please feel free to ask questions if I did not state things clear enough or to correct if I did something wrong :slight_smile: Back on topic…

Recently I graduated from high school and got informed that the school I wanted to study at was not able to allocate a place for me to study therefore I am left with my backup options for teritary study. Personally I believe that I have met all the requirements to enter the school but some how I just did not make it, perhaps that I did not perform as well in the interview. Well the thing is that this school I wanted to study has a very limited amount of place available meaning getting in is very competitive.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand. There are very few schools that offer product design in the region. As I can not independently support my self at this moment I would like to study as close from home as possible. Here in Auckland there are two choices as far I know, Auckland University of Technology and Unitec Institute of Technology. Prior high school graduation I applied for both schools and also others with completely different pathways to keep my options open. Among the others are University of Auckland and AUT as mentioned earlier where I applied for Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Many of my friends who are going to university are studying either engineering and commerce. They told me not to do design as the unemployment rate is quite high where as compared to computer science for instance. But I am determined that I would do well if I did design. In all honesty I can not imagine my self doing commerce, most likely that I would not enjoy it as much as design or as passionate about it. Perhaps ranking of the school does really matter when it comes to future employment?

The decision now is whether I should continue to study my preferred degree in the product design pathway in an average school or to change my pathway completely but study in a better school significantly higher in ranking(eg. University of Auckland). I would appreciate inputs from many people and many others who may have experienced a similar situation.

As a note, the school I wanted to study at is a university where as the other option is at a institute level not qualified for university status therefore not on rank. But the degree is virtually the same, Bachelor of Design in Product Design. From a small research I did apparently Unitec had their product design programme longer than AUT which only started offering the degree since 2008 but the head faculty previously worked in Unitec so I assume that Unitec probably has more experience in teaching. However equipment wise AUT definately has the lead, during visits to both schools. AUT has buildings that are much newer and that the studio spaces are significantly bigger with a wider range of equipment(prototyping machines, computers etc.).

For those who are really keen to help here are the websites of the two schools if that helps for input.

Unitec Institute of Technology

Auckland University of Technology


Thank you,

This isn’t that uncommon a situation, not only in school but afterwards as well. Where you go to school or where you get the first job can have a lot to do with chance and not just your talents.
I’d recommend getting into the nearby program you like better, and plan on transferring to a better school later. Find out what credits will transfer and what won’t, so to spend less time re-taking classes.
Spend as much energy on design as you can, do the designboom.com competitions and take the design of artifacts class at cousera.com.
Consider this year a dry run, pushing yourself to achieve entrance to the best program you can, and use these lessons when it comes time to get into the job of your dreams once you finish up school.

And remember that design is a journey. where you fit best - where you do your best possible work may not be at a big name school or a famous consultancy. the capacity for great design is everywhere.

First of all thanks for your input and encouragement.

I guess it all comes down to experience, like you said do competitions and take classes. As for transfers unfortunately I would not able to do it until I study at an undergraduate level(Say Master’s degree). Since not many schools here do not recognize credit transfers, at least in an undergraduate level.

Speaking of Master’s degree I want to ask if I get employed in a product design job, say shortly after graduation of my undergraduate degree would you recommend taking it or to continue studying towards an undergraduate degree? I mean like they both gain experiences. I guess it comes down to more practical hands on experience or to study in a more enclosed space where experience is not as practical, assuming most employers looks for practical experiences. Just want to hear your opinion about it :slight_smile:

By the way thanks for the sources you have provided for competitions and the artifact class.

the best educaton of all is on the job. An internship is indispensible and should be your main goal while in school.
if the school you go to doesn’t have a mandatory internship, then it’s up to you to get one. Once you have a couple years worth of work in your portfolio start the interview process. don’t worry about it now, even without a formal support system in place you should be able to find what you need at school.

work hard and good luck

Thanks and sorry for the late reply. Actually both schools I applied have this big project where in the last year of study students work with industry clients in New Zealand so I guess that could kind of count as an internship although I would not be actually working at the company with the client.

I also want to take this opportunity to ask for more advises if possible. I know it is a bit inconvenient for people to do as many members here are actual practicing product designers or university students, but I guess I feel more confident that way perhaps? I am actually kind of lost.

I went to an engineering and business/management course at first. I didn’t do badly, but everything was a chore. I eventually decided to switch. I’m now in my third year of a design undergrad, and loving every second. It might be easier to get a job in commerce at the moment, but personally I’d rather work hard preparing myself for a dream career than just walk into a job i could care less for.

It sort of does, especially for finding a first job / placement. It’s an easy first filter for people in a hiring position if they have a history with a certain course and trust that the average graduate from there is better. In other words, from what I know it usually goes more by personal history/knowledge of a course, than Uni rank. You can get around that though, by being noticeable in other ways. One example making a creative (but professional) application. Whatever you do, don’t expect that graduating form an engineering course at a good uni will help you more than a product design course from a lesser known uni, if you are applying for a design job.

Having equipment and facilities is great, but the people are more important. You want teachers, technicians, and probably most important, peers that inspire you and push you to do more and better.

I completely agree with this. If you are set on becoming a product designer, then start working on the core skills right away. Even if your credits don’t transfer, if you think that the other course is good enough to warrant it, transfer anyway and do the extra year. You’ll get a head start and come out stronger for it.

Don’t count on it. Live projects are good and all, but they aren’t internships.

hope that helped you and good luck.

Thanks, I find the advise really helpful when experienced student give advise on the factors involved and such. I am actually on holiday at the moment, not too long since high school graduation. So I actually have about two months to think about my options till university starts over here.

Sorry that I can not give a definite feedback on the advises at the moment as I try to spend my time process what I think is right. On occasions I spend time reading the sticky threads on the students and schools section to polish my thoughts funny enough. Don’t get me wrong though it was really helpful.