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  • What should a high schooler look for when selecting a GD college program

    Ok, we've had a spate of recent grads on here who cannot believe the college program they just spent oodles of money on did not prepare them for the real world work environment.

    List some requirements that you think the prospective student should ask about when interviewing at colleges.
    Feel free to include web stuff. Just be sure to differentiate from print.

    My biggest gripes are:

    Prepress skills.
    Does the college have a printshop in-house or one they work with where students gain experience in real-world print output. How to create files that will get through preflight to plate.

    Alternate Print knowledge.
    There are other print processes out there besides 4-color press stuff. Wide format is a field that is completely ignored in colleges (and by most software programmers - *sigh*). And there are other jobs out there besides corporate marketing.

    Mentoring or Internship programs.
    Does the college have a mentor/job shadow SERVICE that places students into a work environment. Do they have an active Internship program with placement options? Is an intership required (it must be if you want to get the experience you need to make it Out There). If the student is left to their own resources to find an internship, is there guidance thru the process?

    Placement Services.
    Check out the placement success of the college graduates. How many recent grads are working in the field within 2 years of graduating? Did the college place them?
    Last edited by PrintDriver; 05-25-2006, 11:32 AM.

  • #2
    Thanks for creating this thread PrinDriver. I am not a recent grad but as a graphic designer without any formal schooling I appreciate the information. My boss has discsussed sending me to GD school and I'd like to know what to look for. I also would like to add to your list something to the fact of: What areas of GD they teach. There are so many differant aspects and types of jobs. I am a bit hesitant to go back to school because I am afraid it may be a waste of time and money learning the wrong programs and skills for MY job. (although it would help in future employment.)
    It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
    I like it better when it hurts.
    http://www.myspace.com/jeizzavelle

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    • #3
      Great thread! I'm working on an article on this topic right now (so I may "borrow" - with proper credit of course - some of the input provided here). I've just been named to the Professional Advisory Council for the Art Institute of Portland and we will be looking at this issue beginning with a meeting this evening.

      Briefly, I think that students should additionally look for programs that provide instruction in:

      1. The history of graphic design (The vast majority of recent grads I meet have absolutely no historical perspective on graphic design)

      2. The business of graphic design (with an increasing number of design grads not able to find jobs following graduation many find themselves working independently with no idea of the business aspects of design - self-promotion, marketing, how to run a business as an independent designer)

      3. Typography (not the computer-manipulation of fonts)

      4. Portfolio creation and presentation (how to create a kick-ass portfolio and wow potential employers - most programs seem to be pretty lame in this area.)

      5. How to take a complete thought and convert it to a well-written sentence (when a designer can't write a cover letter without embarrassing themselves, with numerous spelling and grammar errors, there is a serious problem - I wouldn't hire them. Writing for designers is becoming an increasingly valuable skill)

      In regards to placement service figures: Those investigating this topic need to inquire how many former students have been placed in GRAPHIC DESIGN jobs. I've known schools to skew the numbers by including any grad that has A JOB - even if it's at a fast-food joint. It's best to ask for the names of employers where grads have been placed and contact them to see if those placements are the talented and skilled designers the employer was seeking.

      - J.
      Last edited by Jeff Fisher LogoMotives; 05-25-2006, 02:47 PM.
      Jeff Fisher | Engineer of Creative Identity
      Jeff Fisher LogoMotives | Twoot! Twoot!

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      • #4
        *added to frequently discussed topics, "education"*
        "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

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        • #5
          The first thing a student should look for is a scholarship! With the cost of education these days... and the taxes on student loans going up... its criminal what we have to pay to get an education.

          Second, find a school with a certified graphic design program. Corcoran College of Art + Design in DC is one such place.

          Other than that, a place with good weather where people speak english?
          A little smilie goes a long way.

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          • #6
            I am a recent design grad. So hopefully my input will help.
            First of all I did two Semesters of Graphic Design History, and I think it was one of the more interesting classes I took (not the most fun though).
            I also had a class called Portfolio Preperation, and one called It's Your Business which talked about running your own business and freelance work.
            I had two Typography classes (plus a third one called Type in Motion) Unfortunately they only really covered the history and the basics, and they were in my first year so I didn't really appreciate design as much. I'd love to take an advanced Typography course now and probably will eventually.

            The web design class I took was a joke. Basically all I learned was basic html and a little dreamweaver. There was no focus on actually designing for the web. Ditto for the flash class - very basic stuff.
            I had a lot of classes on prepress and my prof actually took us to a print house for a job he had going out.

            In my third year I did a 7 week field-placement.

            I'm content with the education I received, but there are still some things I'd have loved to do. Maybe a little industrial design, and definatley more typography.


            As for looking for a school - I'd definately take reputation into account. There seem to be a lot of Institutes and such popping up with Graphic Design Courses. Some I've seen are little more than glorified Desktop Publisher Courses.
            Last edited by mac.FINN; 05-25-2006, 02:45 PM.
            In this post there are 47 people, none of them can be seen.

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            • #7
              - traditional design theory/skills
              - business models/skills
              - co-op/placement services
              - pre-press skills

              bottom line: if they're just teaching you how to use publisher & freehand, they're just after your tuition. call up alumni and ask them how they're doing now. do your research.

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              • #8
                Unc touched on this but I think some basic marketing and business accounting skills would be good.

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                • #9
                  Also at least some idea of contract law, copyright law and trade practices.

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                  • #10
                    Reputation and 'certification' are over-rated. A school can have a prestigious reputation and still have a bad GD course core. Almost any school can be certified. There is no certification board strictly for GD programs.

                    We probably shouldn't be naming schools here but I just checked out the core listing for the BFA in GD at the 'certified' Corcoran school mentioned above. Lots of communication/publication design classes but not one mention of prepress. At all. Nor does there appear to be an internship requirement.
                    Last edited by PrintDriver; 05-25-2006, 04:51 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Prepress, prepress, prepress, you can be the best designer in the world, but if you don't know how to send it to the printer it won't matter.
                      How about a chain pickerel in your bath tub?

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                      • #12
                        Teach INK and prepress!!!! I'm going to scream if I come across another designer that claims they know nothing about ink. We have NEVER EVER relied on printed pieces more and it makes me bonkers when a designer gives me an RGB file and is completely ignorant of the other half of the design wheel. To not know how to make it printable when you leave school is enough reason to ask for your money back.
                        It's not about the world of design.
                        It's about the design of the world.
                        Massive Change

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                        • #13
                          ^assuming you passed the courses^

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                          • #14
                            This probably falls under the business of design, but I think simple things like presentation skills and a strong grasp of professionalism are key. Although these things may come down to the individual more than the schooling.
                            match in the gas tank, boom boom

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PrintDriver
                              Reputation and 'certification' are over-rated. A school can have a prestigious reputation and still have a bad GD course core. Almost any school can be certified.
                              I didn't mean school reputation - I meant the reputation of the program. I should've been more specific. Find a school that's know as having a good GD course, If there was someway of asking alumni I'd do that.
                              In this post there are 47 people, none of them can be seen.

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