Do you need school to be a designer?

After high school during the youth years you ask yourself what’s next in life and what’s the best outcome. So you start thinking about the most renown profession that you always thought are the money maker: doctor, lawyer, astronaut, etc.

On the other hand there’s the creative side of so many people that push them to seek a post-secondary education that best suits their call. If you don’t take a sabbatical year after high school to travel or to work, you are probably on your way to select college or an education that tailors your creative side; the decision to enroll into a school of art and design is considered the right path to get that degree that was promised to open the best door of your future.

Wrong. The majority of post-secondary education isn’t ready to provide you with the right tools for the professional world, and they are taking students the long way to give them the required skills. To that you’ll have to consider how profitable is for a college or university the long path a student takes to go from the first year to graduation, where also the extra costs of books and materials add to the constant price-rise of education.

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During one of my class at  university enrolled in industrial design, our professor explained how easy were his tuition cost in the 1970s. Yes, that is sometime ago but tuition has skyrocketed ever since. My professor continued saying that he’d work a part-time job in the summer to pay a full year at university of the same program. I wasn’t totally surprised by his statement, what was really bothering was the drastic increase of tuition through the last thirty-or-so years, where the academia has turned major profits at the expense of students.

It’s truly scary seeing how education has become a luxury especially if there’s no possible path to find a job to repay school debt. After crunching some numbers on how much I spent and on how much I could spend more if I decide to continue, I started thinking if this path of education could actually help me being a designer. It took many months before I’d sit down and came with an answer thinking how the majority of the courses I’ve been talking at university weren’t helping at all.

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So, the question “Do you need school to be a designer?” is today more relevant than ever since the quality of knowledge has changed the perception of the profession of the designer. But rather than answering with a “Yes” or “no” you can ask yourself this:”What can school teach you to be a designer?”. Here I can answer by saying how little student’s are being prepared for their first job, where companies hire new candidates on two options:

A) companies need a software operator that can put to concrete what other designers want, with a school degree and no experience.

b) companies want a designer that has the skills and potential to create new concepts and experiences with a good portfolio and goals.

Can college and universities take students and turn them into designers to satisfy the work demand? The answer is A because creativity cannot be taught and what schools are doing now is loading kids with courses which don’t focus on developing designer skills. Some campuses don’t even teach students to use the required software that companies demand when hiring.

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So, how are schools preparing designers if they aren’t teaching the right material? It all goes back to what courses you really need to take to focus on the design path and career, and to seek education outside your class if you feel you aren’t learning what you were promised. Some colleges provide diploma and certifications through focused courses on AutoCAD, AdobeCC, Rhino, Maya, Solidworks, which are essential software for designers.

It’s better to go through such specific programs and take some other university classes to become a designer, but no school is going to suggest this path because of obvious financial reasons.

Originally posted 2017-03-05 22:19:29.