This past week has been midterm week so many of the courses in the graphics technology program have incorporated TVCA assessments into their course, in response to “What the industry expects from graduates”. I’ve had a few students ask what they could do to raise their TVCA scores so I thought I’d offer up a few suggestions.
- Don’t miss class and be sure to show up on time. Miss a class and you could end up slipping up on learning some of the key concepts in a course. But just showing up isn’t the only factor that’ll make a difference in doing well in a course.
- Come to class alert and prepared to pay attention. In fact, be sure you are not only attentive but you are taking notes during demonstrations and lectures.
- Crack open that book and read it. Even better – take notes. Reading the book before class helps prepare you for material that will be taught.
- Ask and don’t ask questions. Huh? That makes no sense right? Here’s the deal – if you are paying attention, taking notes, and reading assignments you SHOULD ask questions to clarify concepts that are perhaps unclear. However, if your questions are a constant repeat of material you should have read, heard, or taken notes about then you might need to pay close attention to comprehension skills. I’m reminded of the first time I taught the introductory course in our program, Digital Media & Design where many students learn to print using QuarkXpress for the first time. And despite having an assigned reading and a demo, over half the class ended up asking “How do I print?” So just remember, when you enter the industry many employers won’t repeat instructions repeatedly.
- Make an attempt to learn independently. This means use your resources FIRST and then ask questions. In fact, go out and seek resources beyond the course such as other books, or online tutorial resources.
- Make efforts to exceed course expectations. Doing the bare minimum requirements will likely earn you a C. An A exhibits mastery of course expectations – in other words, you are going beyond what is expected of you.
- Complete all steps of the creative process AND apply what you’ve learned to your projects. This means do your research, rough drafts, and comps BEFORE you’re done with the project. Just last week I noticed one of my students quickly sketching out rough drafts just before a project was due. Why? What’s the sense – is it really going to help your project AFTER you’ve finished it? Sure it might help earn a few points, if of course the teacher doesn’t see it – but seriously – when you don’t complete your creative process first it shows.
- Take some initiative and motivation to not only express your sincerity towards your future profession, but go out and do something that WILL benefit your soon to be career. That means get out there and network and get involved in local and campus creative organizations such as Graphics Hangouts, Orlando AIGA, Creatologists, and AAF Orlando. This valuable connection with the industry will certainly make a difference when it comes time to get a job. If your work schedule or other obligations prevent you from participating in other organizations consider getting involved in other ways such as online creative communities. Here’s a hint – start interacting on this blog and in our flickr. But don’t stop there, there are many more online communities that will allow you to network online beyond school.
- Proof your own work. I am baffled to see how many students do not even bother to use the grading criteria I offer with all of my project handouts. It’s like a checklist – before you’re complete go through and check off what you’ve finished so you can be sure you’ve met project objectives.
- Take pride in your work. This means that regardless of whether you are a print or web/interactive designer you present your work in a professional manner, so much so that a client or employer would be impressed. Remember, sometimes first impressions are the only chance you have to sell your work. Poor craftsmanship and presentation can easily become a turn off.
- Value the opinions and feedback you receive in class, learn from them, and do something so your work improves. Now is the time to learn and polish off your work. Just nodding your head during a critique thinking “ya, I suppose I could do that” and not doing anything to fix the matter really does not help you improve your work.
- Communicate and participate in class. Don’t expect to be called on to participate, do so on your own free will. Most teachers will encourage such interaction in the class. Not only will you improve your communication skills but you’ll help make the class a bit more involved.
- Don’t come to class to disrupt class with cell phone calls, typing emails, or playing flash games or music. This not only disturbs others in the class but it is evidence that there are distractions present which will likely affect your performance in class.
- Spend time outside of class doing homework, reading, and working on assignments & projects. According to Valencia’s recommendations, students should expect to spend a minimum of 3 hours per credit hour outside of class. This means if you are taking a 3 credit hour course you should plan to set aside 9 hours a week. If you are not it will show in the work you are doing.
- Turn your projects in on time. Don’t procrastinate and put off starting your project until just before it’s due. Doing so is asking for unexpected problems to sneak up on you. Remember, Murphy’s Law always applies when you’re trying to finish your project at the last minute!
- Take responsibility for your performance in the course.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a bit of motivation to get started and gear yourself towards doing exceptional work you might want to check out “How to be an expert”. What’s worth noting from this article is, “The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication. All that talk about prodigies? We could all be prodigies (or nearly so) if we just put in the time and focused.”