Someone recently asked me for some advice about going to art college and becoming an illustrator. Here's what I said. Maybe someone here will find this interesting too...
1) It's a tough life as an artist. You need more than just good drawing abilities to get by. I know a lot of people who are WAY better than me but can't make it as artists. You need to be personable and likable. Work on your people skills and be sincere. People can tell when it's fake.
2) Learn a broad range of skills. Don't just focus on illustration, but also learn the fundamentals of design, sculpture, painting, storyboarding, etc... those skill will help you more than you can possibly imagine.
3) Be yourself. Find your own style and really refine it.
4) Don't waste your education. Don't go out and party and drink when you should be studying and doing homework. They give you that homework for a reason!
5) Always try to be the best. Challenge yourself to make your assignments the best in your class. Always try to be #1. You will fail a lot, but the chase makes you better!
6) Take a business class. If your school doesn't offer one, then take one at an associated college or some local community college. You need the basics of running a business to make it as a freelancer.
7) keep in touch with the people you meet in school. You never know who will someday be an art director somewhere and need someone of your skills. Network, network, network!