I've been in art school for 3 years (taking a semester off to change venues). A lot of institutions don't like to recieve photographs, unless the program is specifically for that. My school had a general program, and I'm really more of a painter. Hated photo class.
If you know it's the right thing to do, do your absolute best to get into a darkroom rather than take the photos to a developer. Always leave a border of unexposed white around the edge.. never crop them right to the picture. Professional photographers don't like that, and plus they look better that way.
Using a pinhole camera might be a good idea as well. They're really easy to make and they show you're creative. There are a bunch of websites out there that will show you what to do, and even give you tips on making your own darkroom if you need to.