Graphic Design School
If you want to greatly increase your chances of landing a job as a professional graphic designer, it is important to consider going to graphic design school. This definitely is not a decision to take lightly. Here are some important things to consider when looking at graphic design schools.
Type of Graphic Design School
You’ll want to consider the type of school you’ll want to attend more than anything. If you attend a large college or university where graphic design is one of many degrees offered, you’ll have a different experience from a smaller campus, a community college, a technical school, or an online learning college. The type of school can have a big effect on the start of your career. I know this from experience, growing up in a city with 2 larger schools. Once you graduate, you’ll have to compete with everyone else from your class for a job, not to mention veterans in your field, as well as everyone who has graduated in previous years.
Don’t pass off community colleges for large universities. You may not receive a higher quality education just because it is a larger school. This was the case in my city, where the community college had a better program, newer equipment and better facilities than the 4 year college. You really need to evaluate the places you’re seriously considering attending before you go. It can be a real eye opener.
A larger college means more students per class, which means you also receive less one on one attention. This type of attention is crucial for refining your skills and building your confidence right out of school. Here are some other factors you may consider.
Does the school participate in any graphical design competitions? Have students accomplished anything of note in the design industry? You’ll want to ask these questions when looking at a graphic design school’s program. These are all things that you can add to your resume. If they publish a newspaper that is acclaimed for its wonderful design, and you end up working on it for a few years while you are in school, that will look great on your resume.
Teachers are just like everyone else. Some are brilliant and are there to help. Others are incompetent and should be burned at the stake (I’m kidding). However, their motivation, their enthusiasm, and their knowledge will have a profound effect on your career. My professor always admired my passion and dedication, but the truth is, it was just a reflection on his.
You’ll also want to know how many students out of the program actually get a job. If that number is lower than 60%, you may want to look elsewhere. You will need help with job placement right out of school. When a campus has this service built in, it can help you to get in the door, because they know all of the places in town, and they can help you find the job that is right for you.
Classes and Resources
You’ll want to tour the classrooms and see how up-to-date their computers and software are. Are they still teaching Quark? Most people have switched to InDesign. I only know of a few local printshops that even handle Quark files anymore. Most handle and prefer InDesign documents. Online print shops request PDFs. However, if a school’s design program is still using CS1 and their computers look like they are from a decade ago, then you won’t be getting the most bang for your tuition bucks. Also, just to note, the software doesn’t make the designer, it’s just good to be up to date on the latest software for job hunting purposes.
Student to Teacher Ratio
Student to teacher ratio is crucial to growing as a design student. That teacher needs to have enough time to take with each student to rip their projects apart so students can learn from their mistakes. If a teacher is spread too thin to take ample time with each student to hone and refine their projects, their graduating portfolio is going to reek. Every design student needs guidance throughout the course of the program.
Accreditation means the school meets certain standards of educational quality. There are tons of programs online that offer “certificates” in design, etc. If you’re looking for a degree, these are not the same thing.
Cost of graphic design school
Education can cost a fortune. A four year degree can cost anywhere upwards of 40 to 50 thousand for the entire session. This is an astronomical cost for someone just trying to get a job in the field. You’ll want to consider how much of a commitment you want to make to the field of design and working towards a design career. Keep in mind, it is rare, but you can make it as a graphic designer without an education. You can also own your own business, but you’d better be good enough to keep the bills paid.
Most schools have scholarships available. Some are for academic achievement, while others may be purely financial. There are also some schools that offer scholarships for extracurricular activities, and for outstanding individuals, as well as charity work. You’ll want to look into all of these aspects.
Conclusion: Graphic Design School
The choice is ultimately yours. The graphic design school you choose is ultimately up to you. It has to fit you and your situation. If you are just out of high school, then apply and learn every bit that you can. If you have children and work full time, then online classes may be the right fit for you. If you want to own your own business, then you might want to take some online courses, or classes via Learnable, Udemy, or Lynda and jump into freelancing. Whatever you do, go to graphic design school, take courses, etc., do something, because you’ll never get anywhere by just standing still.