Top 3 skills to get in a quality design school

The priority of a quality design school is not to hire the “best” candidates. >> It is to offer the best designers to the industry.*

* That’s how a design school truly gains a prestigious reputation.

I am writing this article for whom may be interested to join a design school, but who do not dare to apply. I want to demystified that NOT all quality design school want to see exclusively candidates with great sketching skills. There is other skills to take in consideration.*

*Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean you should wait for joining the school to start learning how to sketch. Earlier you start, better your chances are to get a good portfolio.

Zollverein Design School

What Top-Quality Design Schools Will Be Looking For

Each recruiter is unique. With a different school will come a different philosophy. However, every good design school will be on the lookout for this trio:
1st. Passion
2nd. Creativity
3rd. Sketching skill


I’ve always liked that old fable about the tortoise and the hare. In my opinion, it’s even a good metaphor for applying to design schools.
You will always compete with more skilled candidates. So, your strategy should be to make up for this with your passion.

rabbit-turtle-race10Why? Because of the tortoise and the hare. When you apply to get into the school, the race begins.
Passion will give you the determination to doggedly continue overcoming obstacles in order to become that “best candidate” – and then to push yourself even further. #SkyIsTheLimit! Meanwhile, the original top candidate(s) will be more likely to rely on their existing skills and grow stagnant.

Keep in mind, however, that you should not actually see your fellow students as your competitors. Make them allies, not enemies. You’ll learn from your classes, but you’ll learn so much more from other students as you all lend each other a hand in the face of rough patches and difficult projects. Share your passion and drive, and all of you will improve in skill and ability.
Support each other’s rise through the ranks and save your competitive drive for designers (both alumni and students) from other design schools.

Creativity & Sketching Skills

When we say “design”, the first thing that pops into peoples’ heads is often drawing. Wrong. >> First you should think of creativity.

You cannot rely only on convincing a school of your technical prowess in drawing and sketching. They will also want to see your creativity in action. If a design school were to hire candidates for their sketching skills alone, this would make it a drawing school instead. They’re distinctly different.

Example of an artist who could be the best the world over at drawing awesome, highly realistic portraits of people and, say, cats, but it doesn’t mean that they have the skills and/or interest to become character designer for Disney or Pixar. Studio animation artists love drawing as a way of communicating emotion and telling awesome stories. I feel like these artists have to fall asleep nightly proud of being able to bring happiness to so many people.

Fidm-hardworkYou aspire to be Graphic, Fashion, Product, Transport, Architecture or Game designer, sketching skills and creativity walk hand in hand. The better your sketching skills are, the more effectively you’ll convey your creative ideas. Basically, this is what a design school will train you to do. The more you can show your aptitude for both, the better chance you’ll have of convincing a school to welcome you.

FIDM  Hard at Work in Graphic Design School

Before you try applying to a design school, ask yourself: Do you like drawing as a leisure or are you dedicated to creating for others? If you chose the second option, then YES, you might just be a great design school candidate, and you might enjoy your future work because your goal is to make peoples’ lives more awesome designing through art and stories.

BONUS: Communication Skills

FIDM Graphic Design School Student Shows His WorkA sketch can speak a thousand words, true. Still, candidates with good communication skills are appreciated by design schools. A designer is often in the middle of multiple departments such as marketing, engineering, and production. He or she doesn’t have to know everything, but will need to be able to speak the jargon of each group. If you’re not good at communication yet, don’t worry. The school will train you for this.
If you have difficulties with communication, go back to your passion and draw strength from it. You’re not applying to become a banker. Be yourself and show your enthusiasm.

FIDM Graphic Design School Student Shows His Work


I want to apply for a design school but I need a portfolio. How ?
How do I know if a design school is good?

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About The Author


If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.

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