Is Higher Ed Necessary For a Designer? 

9 Pros & Cons

Today, there is a heated debate about whether higher education is necessary for designers. Two sides have strong arguments and ideas about it. To put it simply, it is definitely possible to be a professional without completing a degree. In a creative field, real-life experience and portfolio are often much more important than a diploma.

Of course, the choice is up to a person. There is no one right answer to this question, as everyone’s experience is different, and the design field is so broad. Going to college is expensive and stressful, although a college essay writing service can help with the last one. So, it is crucial to know all the pros and cons before you make a decision.

Pros of Getting Higher Education

Let’s go over the main benefits a college can give you.

Better Career Prospects

It is not a given, but generally, a diploma gets one more chance for employment and a higher salary. It depends hugely on the exact field. According to the Design Census of 2019, the majority of designers have a BA (32%), and other professionals had online learning experience (17%) or have taken some programs or workshops (10%).

It also depends on the career you are looking for. For a freelancer or worker of small and independent studios, a diploma is not so beneficial. A portfolio is more important. But if you want to work for huge corporations or big companies, it is still an essential part of getting an interview. Those giants still prefer to hire people with higher education.

And a degree can give better chances of starting with a higher position and earning more, of course.

Finding What You Like

It is possible to learn many skills on your own, but it requires time and dedication. College allows learning more about new techniques and tools you might never know about. Here, one can try out different things and styles and find out what they like and what they do not like.

It is truly beneficial to have time to focus only on your creativity and advancing design skills.

Some people do not know what areas they want to work in. After all, there are so many of them. College can be a perfect opportunity to determine the best niche for you, whether it is fashion, interior, or industrial design.

Building Portfolio

A lot of college projects and works can be a foundation for one’s portfolio. It is an opportunity to get critique and advice from professors. There will be hardly such time later to be trained by experts on how to do something. As you try different things, you’ll be able to create a versatile portfolio that truly showcases your talent.

Getting Out of Comfort Zone

It is easy to concentrate on one thing you enjoy and work on that. But a truly versatile professional needs to know the multitude of tools and solutions. College courses and training will get you out of your comfort zone. You’ll broaden your expertise and knowledge. And maybe you’ll find something you didn’t think you’d like or you’ll be much more confident in what you won’t do. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

You’ll get four years to master your skills. And practice is what makes mastery. You’ll get accustomed to working under strict deadlines and rules. You’ll learn how to work in a team or individually. 

Besides, there is always an opportunity to get an internship to gain real-life experience or become employed afterward. College offers a comprehensive and structured way to get better at what you like, meet new people, and broaden your knowledge.

Cons of Getting a Degree

Despite many benefits, there are several significant downsides to college education for designers.

Tuition and Debt

College is expensive, especially for Arts and Design. There are not many scholarships available, and getting a diploma can be a huge financial burden. In the US, tuition can be in the range of $20,000-40,000 per year. So, you’ll probably graduate with significant debt. And the job market for beginner professionals offers about $40,000 – 50,000 per year.

A diploma may give you more employment prospects, but it doesn’t guarantee them. So, you should decide whether it’s worth it.

Little Focus on Tech Skills

This one is crucial for graphic designers. In general, a college education is great for learning theory, basic principles, and problem-solving approaches. But you probably won’t get in-depth courses on how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. You’ll have to figure it out elsewhere. Of course, the exact curriculum depends on the college, but it is a factor to think about.

Design is Subjective

Like any other creative and artistic field, design is up to subjectivity. People have different ideas of what is beautiful and what works best together. If you have a strong personal vision and style, it might be hard to always confirm with the curriculum. There will be projects that you might not personally agree with.

It is Stressful and Time-Consuming

It is not a secret that college is stressful and can take a toll on one’s mental health. And it takes almost all of your time. Although it is great to focus only on design, you probably won’t have much time for any other things, whether it is social life or working on real-life client projects.

In Summary

Only you can answer a question about the necessity of higher education. Evaluate all the pros and cons and think of whether you are ready for such a commitment. Some people prefer to take only separate courses or online programs or even learn everything on their own. Others enjoy the college experience and find it fundamental to their skill set.

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