Should You Go To College For Graphic Design?

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Should You Go To College For Graphic Design Do You Need a Degree to Become a Graphic Designer and be successful? Should you go to college for Graphic Design or learn Graphic Design on your own?

This is probably the question you all have asked the most in the comments.

Is graphic design school the right choice?

Can I get a job in the graphic design industry without going to college and getting a bachelors degree?

Do they care about my education or just my portfolio?

Do I really need to go to college to learn graphic design?

In this video I go deep on the reasons why you may want or need to go to college as a graphic designer, why you should consider not going to college as a graphic designer, and how whether you get a degree or not, it may not guarantee you a job in the graphic design industry.

One of the most important things I cover is that you need to examine your reasons for going to college for a graphic design degree. If it is to get a job upon graduation and you’re worried that job descriptions will filter you from getting a job if you don’t, then maybe a degree in design is not the answer. Maybe you get a degree from your college in a related field while learning graphic design on your own.

A degree in marketing, communications, fine art, animation, computer science or business will be just as impressive or more so to anyone hiring you if you have strong graphic design portfolio.

If your social/economic status dictates that you don’t have the resources to learn graphic design on your own, then college is a great opportunity for you to get access to information and resources you may not have other wise.

Going to college is also a great opportunity to move away from your current location if you don’t feel it values design or provides job opportunities, and work/live in the place you want to have your career in over the next 10-20 years.

Getting a degree in graphic design and putting in applications is not necessarily going to land you a job and who you interview with and how you got the interview in the first place makes a difference.

If you get called into an interview based on them finding your portfolio or because your personal brand or some other work you did, the degree is not going to matter. If you were referred by someone already in the company, the degree is not going to matter.

But if you “cold call” a company by just submitting an application and resume online or to HR then you are going to be filtered and may never get to show them your portfolio. You always want to be hired based on your portfolio. If you are hired on something other than your portfolio your experiences are not going to be ideal, period.’

Let’s talk about the cost of a Degree in Graphic Design or in General for a moment. Even if you go to community college you are spending between $3000,-$6000 if you’re lucky. A traditional 4 year degree will cost you between $20,000-$30,000.

Starting a career with this kind of crushing debt and little means to pay it back means you will have very little leverage in negotiating your salary. If you thought a degree gave you leverage, it really means you are walking in with debt you are desperate to pay off, which means you likely can’t afford to turn down and offer. This cripples you and likely means you will be paid less than you’re worth.

But I will cover why design is undervalued in another video. My point is that is a lot of investment to find yourself in that situation.

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Marcelo dos Santos says:

Roberto: thanks so much for your videos. I recently got my degree in an University in South America, Ecuador. The style of teaching was never my thing so I after I am done, I am still learning a lot, reading books and watching videos. It was a struggle too since I have to deal too with depression and mental health issues. I wish I had a friend like you in my city so I could talk to and learn from.

El McCall says:

I believe if you have an "airtight" portfolio already, and you're literally just amazingly talented then I don't think you need school. I graduate with my associate's this spring ,and I can tell you most of the students in that program obviously have some amount of natural talent , but boy did they need a professor to help iron out the concept of simplicity . I myself have what I consider to be top 10% in natural creative talent. I always have had this advantage in any art related subject pretty much from childhood. Who knows why.. thanks, God. Anyway, my mom was the parent who insisted on college. She already had a fund set up with 80k in it when I turned 17…thanks, mom. I would have been a fool to waste it. I think if you are the type of person who can absorb information ,and then use it to your advantage when speaking to anyone about the field you specialize in then you are golden. A true graphic designer can create something out of virtually nothing that's end result enriches the world. We are innovators of consumer trends, and ideas years into the future that your average non creative thinker can't even begin to conceptualize or realize. My mom was in a government job for 20 years with a large amount of autonomy. So to her government was the way to go she retired at 54. To say that I'm not tempted to forgo the creative gambling route, and stay in school till I achieve my BS is an understatement . I also think with only my associate's degree I have what it takes to work with a major corporation on brand development and identity. You can't really teach an inherent understanding of consumer cultural trends. You can attend classes on marketing , but you can't inherently know what the next big thing is going to be unless you are creating it yourself. That's all inborn natural talent. I don't think you need school if the creative talent is just there, and you have a head to match.

Vinnamese says:

Roberto Blake…thank you for your videos. I'm thinking of going into Graphic Design as a new career. I've always loved doing graphic work in high school but didn't pursue it in college for some reason.

I'm thinking of going to this vocational college (called LA Ort) that offers a A.A. degree in Digital Media which cover programs for graphic design. I figured it'd be a great beginning foundation for me. Of course, I could learn this on my own but I feel that the teacher and classroom experience is invaluable. They also provide job assistance. The thing that sucks is that the cost of the program. It's around $20,000 for 1200 hours! They offer financial aid but it's still a lot. I listed positive and negative qualities for the program and it seemed that the only negative (the cost) is totally discouraging me from attending. My objective/goal is to work at a design firm company or a print shop but I feel you'd need some form of education on your resume to get in. Yet, I've viewed some graphic design job listings that wanted only your portfolio and some that required formal education. Its definitely a push and pull. I believe I can find a good education within $5000-10000 range but still…I'd feel like learning on my own and possibly getting an internship at a firm or shop would be better. It'd totally be cost-effective. And you're right, your portfolio speaks volumes than what school you went to.

Nonetheless, I was faced with various doubts but your videos really shed a light for me. They gave me so much hope that I can possibly venture out and be successful in this. Thank you so much.

Crazcompart says:

Nowadays, I'm going to say I'm not sure… It depends upon what you are seeking, I would think… In my case, I had the advantage of growing up around a stepmother who had studied commercial art/graphic design back in the late 50s / early 60s…I had many of her leftover texts at my disposal through my childhood, and emphasized on mostly art-related classes in high school (including a vocational stint in graphic design, for which I aced)…I breezed through college for my first B.A. in Graphic Design (with a required minor in marketing back then) in the pre-computer early 80s…I stuck with that for a few years until computers became pinnacle in the field…I then decided to secure a more stable trade in machining and manufacturing…When offshoring destroyed that livelihood many years later, I went back to college and secured an associates in computer multimedia design, which taught me the computer skills I needed…At this point however, outsourcing / offshoring have compromised any kind of real moneymaking that I once used to enjoy via freelancing because the Indochinese onslaught outbids me 7 to 1, (as well as being forced out of the market with all these crowdsourcing and for dirt cheap 5-dollar-per-project sites)…I now strictly do fantasy digital art as a sideline while a completely non-related job sustains me…I am a staunch supporter of higher education, but I say, think before you go head over heels in student loan debt…Many career-related blogs and info sites consider a Graphic Arts / Multimedia Design major as a worthless investment right now, so you might be better off just getting yourself a few books on commercial art/graphic design, a few cheap graphics programs or even an Adobe CC Subscription (if you can afford it), and go from there…

blueinuyasha360 says:

Is that attack on Titan on your computer? Also Great video!

li mienn says:

What about product design?

LetsPlayTips says:

how do you feel about graphic design vs graphic communications major

V Power says:

Hello Roberto, I went to school for Graphic Design yet it is impossible to find work. For Three years, I sat at my computer sending out my resume and I'm lucky if I even get a callback. I have10 years of professional experience creating Industrial Illustrations and marketing materials like brochures, flyers and trade show Graphics. People like my work yet I 'm not getting anywhere. Overall my skill set is advanced yet my efforts are useless regardless how hard I look.

Sonya M says:

Such good advice…thank you!! i really needed this

Hans Hartholt says:

I wish I would've known this 10 years ago, but I've had to figure it out the hard way. Your video's are very helpful, so thank you very much!

Elizabeth Schiada says:

It is definitely helpful to take some classes in graphic design to help improve your craft and if you're the type who needs a teacher in front of you.

Prema Presto says:

This video is golden! Thank you!

Zipi Art says:

i still have like 4 years to think about that and now i got even more confused to be honest , really nice advice tho , i'm just pretty twisted for everything right now

Kaashif Ahmed says:

Thanks a lot for this info, Roberto. It has been a dilemma for me which I have been stewing over for ages and this has given me some clarity.
I come from a UX background and I am trying to gravitate towards a more visual graphic design work. Hence I wanted to relocate to Europe but there was the huge cost of education loans which I had to incur to do so. Now I know that I will select individual courses to study online and then relocate with my current skill-set in UX while in parallel,gravitating towards graphic design. It might seem like a lot more steps than a straightforward degree but it will keep me employed and reduce the financial burden.

All this notwithstanding the fact that I constantly hear people saying I am leaving a field with high remuneration and lower competition than graphic design. If its possible for you shed some light on crossing over from one design field to another, then I will be grateful. But overall. Great video ! Do keep this up

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