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Should You Go To Design School: Doing The Math on Education

Discussing the state of design education.

Should you go to design school? Is pursuing a creative education from a university more trouble than its worth? Well, there are pros and cons to going your own way, versus enrolling in a particular school.

In this video, Chris facilitates a discussion about the current state of design education, and what creative students need to consider before, during, or even after high school and college.

First thing’s first: tuition. Whether you go to a private art school, community college, or state university, there’s a cost tied to your education. But on top of the price of tuition, you have to consider the value you’re getting from your enrollment.

So, ask yourself, what is valuable for you to get out of your time in school? Is it the connections you make? The portfolio you graduate with?

One of the concepts presented in this discussion is the distinction between hard and soft skills. Typically, you would pick up hard skills during your time in school. Soft skills, on the other hand, are attributed to real-world experience.

Hard skills are your tactical skills—a good example being your familiarity with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

An example of a soft skill would be confidence, public speaking, or your ability to filter ideas into actionable steps.

When thinking about the value of education, what do you think is most valuable for you to learn and further your creative career: hard or soft skills?

With each passing year, we’ve seen several instances of creatives (freelancers, employees, or entrepreneurs) landing opportunities, despite not having a degree from an established art school.

This prompts us to ask, is design or art school really the best option to get an education?

We have to disagree. Part of our mission here at The Futur is to teach creatives how to make money doing what they love, whether that includes a formal education or none at all.

Back in the 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s, pursuing an education was the only route to land a job down the road. Nowadays, we can learn anything, any time, anywhere, and have the tools at our disposal to keep us working.

What Chris offers in this lecture as an alternative to formal education is an apprenticeship. Rather than pay $20k, $50k, or even $100k for tuition, he throws out the idea of hiring a mentor to show you the ropes. It’s real-world education, application, and mentorship you wouldn’t normally find in a classroom.

When you start to weigh the costs of a traditional college tuition between an apprenticeship, what starts to look more attractive? Committing to 4 years of the same lectures at a five-figure tuition, or spending a few months out of the year to shadow an industry professional for a few thousand dollars?

There is no right or wrong path. But it’s good to know that there are other options available. Whichever route you go down, it’s important to remember you’ll always have to put your best effort forward to make things happen. In and outside of the classroom, keep working towards your dream.

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