The Field Guide for Surviving Third Year

At AOD, we believe that by their third year, all students are equipped with the knowledge and the tools to create their Final Major Project efficiently and effectively.  Students are able to remember up to First Year (in some cases, Foundation or Portfolio level) and use the vast knowledge they have been given with expertise. Compared to the other years, where a student is just learning the ropes of design, Third Year feels like a walk in the park…

… yeah, if that park was located in hell and you have to go through Dante’s nine circles.

Contrary to popular belief, Third Year is where you usually forget everything you’ve ever been taught, and end up asking your lecturers questions like ‘What comes after A?’ and ask yourself ‘What is this life?’.  

Let’s start with the basics…

Get sleep whenever you can.

You are not going to get enough sleep no matter what you do. You are going to feel like a zombie for most days, and will probably resort to making grunt noises. Sleep is great for resetting your brain, and helping you think clearly. Just like resting your muscles after gym (who has time for gym, you ask?), you need to rest your brain muscle. Sleep whenever, wherever. Your commute to work in the morning? Sleep. Electricity went off? Sit by candle light and sketch.  Sorry, I meant to have a power nap.


This is very important. You have to feed the body as well as the brain… with real food. This does not mean you have a nice fried rice and nine curries for dinner – that’ll just put you to sleep.  If it feels like you are wasting time eating, then your project is probably on a roll. Okay no, at least have a snack. Especially during submission weeks. Eat healthy, eat well… Eat an apple, have a gotukola juice, and if you are still hungry, go for a fried chicken bucket.


This is not a joke. If you want to do well in your project, and your mind to think clearly, you need a balance of sleep, food, and work. You can stay awake for three days eating leftover pizza and drowning in black coffee, and your project will have nothing value added. Get enough rest, feed your body, and work. Just remember not to let one of them exceed more than the others!


As any dedicated student to their craft, you are going to cry. You are going to cry because your brain stopped ‘brain-ing’, and you feel like you can’t come up with a revolutionary idea that will win you a Nobel Prize in design. That’s okay. You are not a failure. You are just tired. Schedule your crying. Set an alarm for ten minutes to have a good cry, and when the alarm goes off, wipe your face, pick yourself off the floor, and get back to work. Again, you are not a failure; you are a design student. (You probably need food and sleep. Just saying.)

Trust Yourself.

You know this. You have done this for 2/3 years. You know your project, you know your tools, you know what you are capable of, and you know help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. Don’t let small moments of weakness cloud years of greatness that came from YOUR brain. You got this. You just need to take a step back and look at the big picture once again.

…and while you are at it, you know how to make it a great project? Kill your darlings.