How to graduate with First!

How to graduate with first class degree in interior designBefore we start, let’s make few things straight,
if you here to find a magical cure, because your deadline is tomorrow and you still want to go to that club everyone else is going, I would say.. just go to the club.. don’t even bother as this is a post for those who believe in their studies and also want to make most of it.
This is Part 3. How to graduate with First Class Degree in interior design!
This is a little controversial, whether grades are important or not. I know some people strongly share the ideology that you actually don’t need good grades to succeed. These, who believe in that, mostly have strong background in some subject, this could be related PR experience, family or friends connections who helped to jump via recommendations and references. Most of the successful non-qualified people had previously good jobs and many influential friends who helped them achieve or passed them relevant information’s they needed. Another option is if you start very young in family business or work helping in small store or architecture practice. If you come from normal family, small town and genuine don’t know many people connected to interior design world, unless you are super confident in life to knock specific doors, you most likely are going to succeed by your own hard work and by gaining good grades. (and this is the most rewarding feeling ever) Been there, done that!  
If you want to graduate with first, you are in the right place. I cannot guarantee you will get first, but these are the steps I did and guess what.. I have this very pretty certificate that says ‘’First class Degree’’ and hey I didn’t finished yet;p I also was received a Dean’s award for contribution to interior design, just to make you feel more motivated, I was also chosen as University ambassador and I went to China where we did amazing project there! Motivated enough?
1.       Start from the beginning! Your tutor will recognize instantly, whether you do it for yourself or satisfy your parents ‘’because your older sister did this course as well’’ but you actually don’t like it. Read here about my ‘’how to become an interior designer’ post to identify whether you are on the right course and what designer you want to be.
How to graduate with first class degree in interior design
   2.  Discovery channel. Ask, ask & ask! Don’t be ashamed. At this stage, your tutor knows, that you know nothing about certain things. No, they don’t think you thick. First year, is the year where you are discovering your style, what type of visuals, your personal aesthetics and here trying new things is very important. You won’t have time for it later. Even if something goes wrong like program  crashed. Don’t give up. Remember every new start is going to be better! My visuals for example always were much nicer, after I throw many not polite words toward my computer when it crashed, and I had to do it again! Try to use different media, different textures, use several technics to create mood boards, drawings etc. Try all, before you decide which works best for you!
     3.       Apps and media.  Download several apps for your course, I used apps for visual’s, colour etc. I like Colour911, Photo Measures (handy while you exploring), after light (great for quick photo adjustment for your moodboard), Adobe Colour, explore sketchy type apps as well (see which works for you) Use YouTube tutorials! I thought myself most of the software’s this way. Download the software’s onto your computer and learn at home. Use uni days to ask questions, but self-learning software will help you in the future as each company, use different software and you most like end up working on different one.

How to use university library tips
4.       Research skills. I know that your tutor, mum, grandpa and everyone will tell you, use the Library and you do because you have to. I tell you something; use it because this will help you more in the future! When you become a designer, a great research skills is essential!! You have to be fast and find products, information in such a short time! I have joined a library course on ‘how to research and how to use the library’. It sounds pretty boring, I know. Believe me, is worth to join. They will share with you tips and hints how to find books and what you need faster. Google don’t know everything!  Great research skills will also help you find the information’s others won’t have and you always the extra points for your tutors and lectures.
How to graduate with first class degree
   5.        ‘’Always go the extra mile’’. You probably heard a lot of that. Simple example. I was writing an essay and I needed certain images or information’s. I wrote an essay about female architect and there were no images available online of her early work, apart from the building she designed available on google or books. Only images available was from library in USA and access was denied. After several emails and phone call to the actual Library, I had few days later amazing emails with attached images, my lectures never seen them before, giving me a bright and shiny first on my essay, yay! Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone!
  6.       Don’t be copy cat. Don’t be boring, that’s what I mean. How many ‘’Scandinavian d├ęcor or Chanel pop up store’s your tutor seen? Be original. It happen, that fellow student may come up with similar idea. Don’t start blaming each other, most likely you just had mind alike thoughts. It happens.  Forget Picasso ‘’Good designers copy, great designers steal’’ , I know its fancy, but it won’t get you anywhere. Even if someone has done an amazing project in the past and you wish to get same glory. It won’t teach you any new skills. Check what fellow students are doing, and make sure you do something totally different. Ask your tutor if this was previously done. You more likely to gain good grades, if you done a project no one touched before, come across challenges and finished with pleased results.
7.       Problem solving skills! Find yourself a challenging project. Something you think you can’t do it. Well, you think for now, but learn this attitude instead ‘’ I can do it’’. Talk to your tutor about potential problems, make them aware what you dealing with. If you come with your project, perfectly prepared to each presentation, throwing answers like David Copperfield playing card from his sleeves, your tutor will assume your project is way too easy. In real project, problems are ALWAYS! Starting from dimensions, to client changing their mind finishing up with contractors and technical problems on site. If your project is too easy, change. Challenge yourself! Develop your ideas. Your tutor, most likely is going to give you new tasks and ask you to change things which will drive you nuts! Believe me, they not doing this because they actually put accidentally put too much sugar in his coffee and is too hyper, no. They do this, because they want you to be prepared for real life.
8.       Don’t be afraid of silly ideas. Even if you think ‘Oh my God, this is stupid’ as long as is not offensive or harmful- nothing is stupid. You will develop that and change it at further stage.  All my ideas, sounded strange at first, but it turns out to be awesome! So, carry on, you are designer, you suppose go mad! Even if something sounds bonkers, all my projects started from silly ideas, but I was different. Didn’t I mention I was the only girl who achieved First in my course?
team work university project tips
1.       Team work. Even if you have the most amazing leading skills, let others speak. Fellow students were accepted into the course for some reasons. They are as good as you are. Listen what they saying and take it on board. Learning how to work in team at this stage will also help in the future. You also most likely scoop better grades for project, showing maturity but also, each of you can add something important.
2.       Last minute changes. If you not sure about something that means you don’t believe in this and no point of carry on. Change. No regrets!
3.       Buy notepad and carry with you everywhere and have a spare one next to your bed. Honestly, the best ideas come when you are relaxed with friends in town, after 2 prossecco’s or after you just wake up. You also may have dream about something bonkers! Write it down!
4.       Go and explore. When you do a certain project, go to similar environment and observe how people work there. What is functional, what needs improvement? Photograph and write down your thoughts, you may forget later and sometimes the outcome may surprise you at later stages of your project.
5.       Selling your project. I don’t mean here, to cashing out year below student for the project ;). I mean Presenting! Presentation skills, are achievable even for the most shy person ever! If you took previous drama lessons, then you know what I am talking about if not, maybe try them? Tone of your voice is important. When you talk, you have to specifically accent certain words, you have to make sure everyone else is engaged. Try to add to each of your presentation a little something in the beginning, a story? Something that may surprise everyone. Sell your project like you were selling a product. Make sure you prepared for potential questions. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses on your project.
interior design model making

6.       Managing your time. Get yourself a planner. Give yourself tasks to complete each day. Be reasonable. Don’t put too much knowing you won’t achieve it, as it will work opposite. Don’t go sleep until you complete them. You will get into a routine soon. Don’t worry if you skipping this Aaamazing party the everyone will be on! You have bloody 3 years to party! In the future, your mates won’t pay your bills. Is good to keep up with friends but honestly, sometimes having that extra time for yourself will give you a lot! Reward yourself. You will feel more motivated.
7.       Organisation. Buy external hard drive. Label each project and create sub folders. Keep your research separate to drawing folders. It’s very easy to get messy in your computer. Don’t delete anything, transfer to your external hard drive. It will make you faster and more productive, and believe me is so easy lost control and fulfil your computer with crap!
8.       Get involve with the University community. You can become a course leader or course ambassador. Your tutors will definitely appreciate your engagement, also then you have an opportunity to speak on behalf all students and you can show your maturity and objectivity. Also, work experience is important. You can use university resources or applied directly with companies.
9.       No pain no gain. As we speak. Work bloody hard! Always ask yourself, Is it good enough? I have worked on stair design and each time my tutor told me, is good, I came back home and developed. I ended up having 90% for this project! There is always place for improvement.
10.   Use your uni workshops as much as you can. Even if means after uni hours, get your hands dirty and explore this area’s. It’s fun but also will teach you how to do better models, and will help you to understand from technical point of you.

11.   Take breaks. Sometimes things don’t go the way we won’t. Go for a walk. Get a fresh air, clear your mind. It’s fine to stuck. We all have done that. Try to do something else instead and come back to it later. Download Zen music if you have crazy flatmates, it helps!! Do Yoga!
12.   Exercise and wellbeing. Student life involves loads of drinking. You don’t need to skip all the parties of course. Make sure you eat healthy. Believe me if your brain won’t get enough air and you dehydrated, on crappy food it won’t get you anywhere. Try to stretch in the morning, open window as often as you can and eat loads of fruits and vegetables. If your body works on the right level you will feel more energised. If you have bad sleep pattern, eat crappy food, you most likely to end up feeling tired and miserable all the time. Not good pal!
13.   Get into you tutor shoes. No, don’t wear them ;) Try to understand why they doing certain things. Many fellow student were moaning and slagging off tutors,- like ‘’stupid course, stupid project, what this is all about’’. Immaturity much! Your tutor prepared the project carefully, making sure, when you do your project you learn from different areas. If you feel something is not working or you gaining a little, share your feedback with them. They will appreciate that. Don’t be afraid to put forward ideas and suggestions. They are paid to teach you something, not to make your life miserable.
14.   Last thing a little personal. Don’t ever let anyone put you down. I nearly give up in my last year due to being bullied. There were bunch of girls, who really didn’t like my passion and motivation. Being geek is something you will be proud later on but in uni time, especially on last year when people become a little more competitive it may cause some problems. It had huge impact on me but I stood up and… ignore them. Don’t fight them. Don’t go down to same level as they area. Remember; Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people!by Eleanor Roosevelt
 Tutors don’t just reward you for your pretty eyes, or recent good project. This is an overall hard work throughout all the year you spend in your course. Gaining First class Degree, is not only, ‘Hell yeah I got first’ feeling and I can proudly show off screen shot of uni grades on Facebook, but this will teach you many important skills for life. You will learn self-discipline, you will learn how to organise your work vs personal life and family and have time for your hobby. Most important, it will teach you the humbleness and how to approach a life as a mature, decisive and confident person.  Making the right decisions at the right time is crucial. This will also help you in the future once, you step into the ‘’real’ career. Don’t treat grades like just university reward; make a goal to achieve them as achieve them you gaining more than just a pretty numbers or words on paper. Best of luck.
My next post in these series will be ''How to find a job in interior design'' full of tips how to aproach companies, how to prepare cv, to get a job or work experience. 
 images source link & link


  1. Some really good tips and definitely don't be a copycat x

  2. It's important if you want a first to work hard, come up with orginal ideas and be organised. I just missed out on a first as I missed some uni due to going through a divorce.

  3. So many great tips- wish I'd been able to read this when I was starting uni! xxx

  4. What great tips, so many of them apply to so many things in life and also apply after uni when you're in work.. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Amazing and very inspiring post, I love interior design maybe I will try out later if I decide to go study. I think this post will inspire and help many people that are going to uni xx

  6. These are some amazing tips! Not just for uni but in general everyday life :) xx

  7. Very exhaustive list! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts with the rest of us :)

  8. WOW - amazing tips and such a well written and informative guide! I completely agree with going that extra mile - even in life, it always keeps you 'front of mind' and helps get you noticed. Also it's just nice isn't it! Also completely agree that copying is one huge no no x

  9. Congratulations on getting a first, I graduated in July with a first and I followed most of these steps to achieve it. The one tip I would add is never be afraid to think out the box and challenge your teacher because that will get you extra marks.

  10. Some great tips there, I really wish I had made more of an effort when I was at university to get a first! x

  11. Congrats on your first. Great tips you have here.

  12. Your tips are amazing. I have always loved interior designing. Check out my blog.


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