It’s been a month since I finished DP, over a year since I collected these bits of advice. I would like therefore throw in my two cents.
The omega rule of DP is to pick the professor who is right for you.
1) every class is different. Different students, different faculty teaching. Makes a huge difference in levels of drama and stress.
2) whatever you do, don’t accept Zucchini as your advisor. He can be a decent critic (sometimes) but he’s on the road (often), he forces students into his bad designs, and I’ve overheard critiques where he just blasts and insults them, and not for lack of an effort on their part. The students in his section looked as miserable as any student I’ve ever seen and their work suffered as a result. If you have the misfortune of being an attractive young woman, prepare yourself for shall we say, extra unwanted attention.
3) calm down. Some students want to make this their magnum opus and produce a sagrada familia of a project. And then they get stuck because they reject every idea immediately because it doesn’t live up to their standard of brilliance for the project. For me, find something that interests you, really is fascinating, some idea or place or thing, and just work it and play with it and build incrementally in small steps. You can get to amazing places this way. Intuitive leaps are fine, but expect to fall frequently.
4) degree project is a collaboration. Your advisor will have a major impact on the project. Some advisors more than others. There’s several ways to deal with this, but I’d say roll with it when it works for your idea. Every professor has their research agenda, and you should know what that is. But you are the master and they are the advisor- degree project is about advancing YOUR ideas. Its best when you can figure out a way for their interests to find a place in your helping your project.
5) talk to different advisors, get a wide variety of feedback and not just at reviews. Its helpful to refine your ideas and it also makes you better at explaining your project.
6) the purpose of degree project is to teach you how to express an idea in a clear and coherent way. That’s it. That’s all you’re really required to do.
7) if you haven’t learned it by now, the required presentation materials listed is a joke, a crutch for people who don’t know what they need to communicate their ideas. If you’re unsure about what you should have, ask your advisor.
8) enjoy yourself, go out, remember this is the last time you’ll get to spend with your amazing and talented friends you’ve made. The finale is bittersweet. I started bouldering once or twice a week with friends. Its good to get some air away from studio. Good for your project too.
9) rehearse! There’s nothing like practice to make you feel prepared. You will have about ten minutes to explain your idea at the final review. Its not long, so move briskly but be thorough on the grounding. Once you pin up, give a run through for a friend.
10) you will have a panic attack in the second half of the semester. Maybe more. Might even have a few in the first half. Take a deep breath, leave studio for awhile, remember that your project is not you, and not the summation of all the work you’ve done in grad school. It’s just another project, printed bigger.