School Spotlight: OCAD University

School Spotlight: OCAD University

Featured Photo: The Sharp Centre for Design and the OCAD University main building. Photographer: Richard Johnson, interiorimages.ca.

AT A GLANCE

School: Ontario College of Art and Design University
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Programs offered:  http://www.ocadu.ca/academics/undergraduate.htm
Website: http://www.ocadu.ca

STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Cara O’Donnell

4th year, Graphic Design

Why did you choose OCAD U?

I had to make a big decision between choosing OCAD U and 6 other schools that I had applied for. OCAD U had always been my dream school as soon as I first saw the crazy architecture of it. Not only was I drawn to it from its incredible reputation and look – but all throughout high school I had friends with older siblings who attended the university. When I attended the GradEx in May of 2010 and saw all of the incredible pieces that came out of the student’s year long thesis and project studies I knew this would be the school to push my creativity beyond the limits and give me the freedom and utilities I needed when creating. Essentially what it boiled down to was the final year of school. OCAD U offered Thesis/Project (now called Workshop) where as others offered internships and placements, or just a normal curriculum. Now as I am in my fourth year working on my final study I am beyond happy and just as confident with my decision.

What are the courses and projects like?

At OCAD U, the courses and projects are very conceptual based. As a student you are required to learn the Adobe programs yourself through self-teaching and an amazing resource called Lynda.com (which your subscription and registration comes with your tuition). The courses focus on ranges from Art & Design history, to Editorial, Branding, Package Design, etc. For the projects you are given a simple brief usually with no creative direction – and some limitations to challenge you. As a student at OCAD U you learn to come up with many different concepts for projects and are encouraged to push your ideas beyond the limits.

What is the most memorable part of the school?

Besides the architecture and the location (right in the middle of downtown Toronto), the most memorable part of the school is definitely the faculty. Some of the professors I met have completely changed my views on design, my work ethic, and my life – all for the better. The professors are supportive and they also push you to go places you never thought you’d go! The best feeling is looking back at the end of a project and seeing how far you’ve come, and the professor you have is usually the one the pushed you to get there.

What is your favourite part of the program?

My favourite part of the program would be the Workshop course in the final year. You have the freedom to explore an idea of your choice and essential create your own brief! It’s a great way to strengthen your self-discipline. This year long course is also a great way to express yourself as a designer – and is always the biggest piece in your portfolio at the end of the year!

Aspects of the program you think is important for a potential student to know.

The first year of school is general design. You won’t get to do strictly graphic design until the second year. At the time you may think that this is pointless and annoying – but throughout the years you will realize just how beneficial those courses were to you, as you will be using that knowledge for the rest of your design career. It also helps to broaden your skills as a designer and play around with mediums you’ve been too afraid to play with. Also – don’t be afraid of the final year Workshop. It sounds extremely terrifying and intimidating but I can promise you once you’re there, you’ll be more than ready to get started.

 

Hayley Hinkley

4th year, Advertising

Why did you choose OCAD U?

I chose OCADU because I wanted to be in an institution that thrived on creativity. In my previous institution lacked that aspect and it drove me insane.

What are the courses and projects like?

The courses and projects are challenging and interesting. They take you through the different areas of design helping you to improve your skills in each area.

What is the most memorable part of the school?

The most memorable part of OCAD is the relationships I’ve developed with both students and instructors. With small, intimate classes it’s much easier to get to know people and build lasting friendships. You don’t feel like just another number.

What is your favourite part of the program?

My favourite part of the program is the way classes are set up. Generally we are given 2 weeks for an assignment and during the first week we are given valuable feedback that I really learn from. It also helps to push me further- which is really important to me.

Aspects of the program you think is important for a potential student to know.

The program (advertising) is geared more towards art directors. If you find that you may want to be a copywriter, or if that is your strength- be sure to take creative writing EARLY- in second year- so you can take other creative writing courses later. I was unaware of this detail and was therefor in a pickle when it came to choosing liberal studies courses that I thought would be of value to me.