Designers — Is College Right For You?
Whether or not you believe post-secondary would be the right fit for you, I am an avid believer in further your education after high school. College has helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses, taught me how to better manage my time to meet deadlines, collaborate with others and juggle multiple projects at once; all which are extremely useful job skills. Although a degree or diploma can get your foot in the door, it doesn't guarantee you employment after graduation.
Creates a Foundation for Learning
If you are starting out fresh in the industry, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. College provides a structured regime that accommodates students with the necessary building blocks and experience to be successful. This would be a good fit for students who need assistance learning the basics of fundamental web design and coding.
Better Opportunities for Internships and Employment
Most student designers coming straight from high school can't own their skills or create their personal style within such a short timeframe. Using college as a means to brand yourself will give you an edge later on when applying for internships and jobs. There are very few designers, at such a young age, that have the perfect combination of skills to have a flourishing career without some formal design education.
College provides you with a number of options to connect not only with classmates, but teachers and mentors that can become an invaluable source of information in the future. Establishing connections with like-minded people will serve you well when looking for employment. College also gives you a buffer of time to network with other designers, as well as send out your resume and portfolio to as many agencies as possible. Establishing connections at a young age will help you solidify work in the future.
Self-improvement is your full time job (they don’t tell you- but that tuition pays for your social life as well) - Zach Dunn
Lack of Up To Date Information
The way the design industry moves at dizzying speeds is the main reason why standard school curriculum's can't keep pace with the current industry. Being taught old techniques is not only detrimental to your education, it can instill bad habits. Keeping up to date with the design industry online and seeking knowledge outside the classroom will benefit you throughout your studies.
Degrees Don't Really Matter
Having a killer portfolio will win over employers. Exemplifying that you possess massive potential is what will make you stand out, rather than what formal design education you hold. Placing emphasis on your portfolio will get the attention of clients and potential employers, but make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. You need to be extremely adaptable to change to be successful as a freelancer without a college education.
Know Your Personality and Skill Set
Understand what program you are applying for. Many web design degrees can be masked as "Multimedia" and "Computer Arts" and include topics that aren't relevant towards your career. Being passionate about your program is crucial. If freelancing opportunities arise, assignments that don't hold much importance will get pushed to the wayside.
College provides an excellent way for you to make mistakes within an isolated environment that encourages personal development. College gave me the opportunity to develop many skills that have proved useful in the workplace. Knowing your skill set, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, will help you become more confident in your work and yourself as a designer. Having a wide array of skills is ideal, but many employers will appreciate honesty.
How Do I Know if College is for Me?
The hard part about knowing if college is right for you, is that you have to experience it for yourself. College can either be easy or hard - depending on much you are willing to put in. The more work you put in now, the easier it becomes later on in your career.