Let’s answer the question, “are graphic design degrees worth it?” I graduated way back in 2004 (I think) with a BA in Graphic Design. Long before that, I operated as a creative services agent. I worked design jobs with public relations firms and design agencies before being handed my degree. Walking out of Radio City Music Hall on graduation day, I had my diploma, a perm, and a question. “Was all that time and energy worth this piece of paper?”
Are graphic design degrees worth it?
For me, yes, it was worth it. Not simply for the degree proving to everyone I know what I am doing. But for the networking and experiences along the way. Depending on the institution you go to, Design school gives you access to professionals working in the field who can educate you on the ins and outs of the business. The key is, you get out what you put in. That’s not some hacky “you have to work hard” anecdote. Of course, you have to work hard. If you don’t, you will stink at design. Hell, you may stink with a ton of hard work. That’s entirely possible too.
What you need to “put in” is the effort to both explore all that the school has to offer in terms of skill classes, as well as the effort to talk to everyone you can. Badger professors for insight into client relations. Take a business course if the school offers them. If they don’t, find one somewhere else and take that one. Take portfolio classes and absorb everyone’s critiques. Don’t just listen to feedback on your work and zone out. Hear what your professor is saying about your peers’ work and understand why they said it. See who is offering an internship. Partner with your fellow students and create something together.
In almost 20 years, no one has ever asked me for my degree, and maybe two people have commented on the school I went to. The degree is just a piece of paper. The design school will prepare you to be a designer. If you let it.