Choosing a university
If you have decided to get yourself a design education the most comprehensive way is to go to uni and study graphic design. There are part-time graphic design courses out there, but unless you intend to be a part-time graphic designer (or an evening graphic designer for that matter), the full-time is the way to go.
If you are fresh out of school it may feel like a long time out of your life but trust me, looking back, it is the best time you will ever have. Sure, you won't be the richest person on the planet, but you will have a lot of fun and be as free as a bird.
I met a chap once, totally untrained working for a printers. He did a bit of graphic design on the side - self taught - and he was brilliantly talented. Not only did he know the software like the back of his hand, but he was really creative.
He wasn't long out of school and I said to him then, 'get on a course, you will be brilliant'. He figured he was better of earning a bit of money and never studied. Sad to say (although I am sure he is happy), he dosen't work as a graphic designer now.
Anyway. Where to study? This is a very hard question for an old chap like me to give practical and precise advise. You could say I'm out of the market. But I reckon the same principles apply today as they did in 'my day'.
I suspect the factors include, but perhaps not exclusively:
- Reputation the university has
- Course curriculum
- How local it is, if you want to stay near home, or how far it is if you want to get away!
- Facilities and other university 'benefits', things like accommodation, stuff to do in your free time etc
I'd shop around as early as you can. I don't mean just look at their website, I mean go there, try and talk to students, try and gauge what the industry thinks... learn as much as you can.
You will need to be in a creative environment and that means being with creative people. If the uni you are looking at mostly focuses on law (unlikley) then you may not get acces to the outside influences that have hidden benefits.
Being next door to photographers, illustrators, artists and fashion designers will have a huge impact on what you will experience. Being surrounded by creatives from all disciplines will help you build a network that you will be part of for the rest of your life.
No matter what the prospectus says, each university course will have a strength. It could be typography, animation, film, anything. So think about the things you are intersted in. Go and visit a year before you need to and have a look.
If you have managed to get some work experience in, speak to the boss, and the designers and ask them what they think and what their experiences were.
The more information you can gather, the better informed you will be, the more you will know what you really want - and that will improve your chances of getting in.