This is a consistent question I have been asked and have asked myself. In pursuing a career in this field, there is no right or wrong answer, only opinions. My opinion is that the 4-year degree is well worth the time and money. I can see why people disagree because I have personally struggled to come up with my own opinion.
Here are my answers to some questions I have been asked and have asked:
Why should I pay to take general eds when they are completely irrelevant to my end goal?
General eds may feel pointless, and for the most part are, but you take away so much more from them than expected.
Communications classes help you to better argue your point and to speak in a more educated way.
Math classes teach you how to problem solve and how to be solution driven.
I actually thought my English classes were the most irrelevant. I already know how to read and write, so why did I have to keep taking those classes?
I’ve never been one to read for fun and I never thought I would be writing again after college. Just designing. Ironically though, here I am writing my monthly Pulse Marketing blog post.
Sometimes, I even get to write a little bit of content or proof-read. I also read a lot of design related articles for inspiration, to stay up-to-date on trends, and surprisingly, to keep learning.
Therefore, you may be surprised with what non-design skills you acquire in college and keep.
Why should I study design at a university when there are so many online tutorials?
Going to college for design, you are learning from people who have years of both, life and design experience under their belts. These are the people you want to be learning from.
You are also practicing your skills in a safe, non-consequential space. You are learning theory and proper practices, but also given the space to be creative and to break design rules.
College is where many foundational skills are set. It’s where you can really learn what you like and don’t like, but you still have to practice what you don’t like.
At a university, you are made into a more well-rounded and properly equipped designer.
College is a lot of time and money, when many companies value experience over education. Shouldn’t I focus on gaining experience, networking, and learning as I go for as cheap as possible?
While attending college, you are given many opportunities to gain experiences outside of classes and to network.
By even just attending your specific university, you are accumulating connections through alumni.
And yes, most companies seem to value experience over education, but I still believe college is important for the previous reasons listed.
Again, it will set you up to be a more valuable employee for the company willing to take a shot on you.
I have a college degree now, why am I getting paid the same amount as someone who didn’t go to college?
This field is interesting because no one seems to want to hire you unless you have experience, but how do you gain experience if no one will give it to you?
If you can find a company willing to give you a chance when you have less experience, take the opportunity and run with it for a while.
It might not be a high paying job yet, but you are gaining that experience necessary to get that high paying job later.
Take advantage of your time at this company and continue to learn and grow. Think of it kind of like a master’s program.
You go to college and learn the basics and more from experienced and successful professors in your field. Then you go into the field and gain some real-world experience, which is what will make you the most valuable employee later.
The first couple years of post-college experience is important in building your foundation as a graphic designer. You learn a lot of things that you can’t quite learn in a classroom setting.
So, don’t be discouraged.
Accept that this is just a season and as you continue to learn and grow, you will get those higher paying jobs and raises.
College sets you up to be a hard-worker, graceful under pressure, and goal-oriented.
These are attributes that will make you successful.