Web Design, Graphic Design, and any other field of "design" can be studied in schools these days, but there lies one question: Will a $30K yearly tuition make a you a better designer than a tuition of $5K? The conclusion of this answer is mixed, and can be somewhat relevant.
These days, everybody knows that going to a prestigious Design School, rather it'd be for fashion, web, print, or multimedia, will probably land you a better job at an agency. Now I am questioning the validity of this "basic knowledge," and exploring how far perseverance can take you, especially in today's quickly advancing world.
Throughout my experience with studying design in school, I have come to a number of conclusions on various ideas, including: Creativity, Jobs after college, Experience vs. Diploma, and Success in general. Basically, it all comes down to who you are, and what kind of a person you develop yourself into. More after the jump...
Chances are, if you're attending design school, you've had at least some type of previous interest and/or experience with web or graphic design. If you don't, then you probably think that because you can make websites in MS Frontpage, going for a design degree would be a breeze. With no surprise, it is not. Design schools provide many different types of challenges that require thought, technical skill, desire to absorb new knowledge, and devotion to the art.
These days, every second kid on the block is their own graphic designer making a few bucks from that mom & pop business down the block. Your goal with learning to become a better designer is to surpass this level of "low" when it comes to making money, and providing services that are nothing short of the best that you can provide. You must learn to be confident in yourself, and never stop learning new things so that when you present yourself to a possible client or employer, you can demonstrate a strong, professional personality and skill set. It makes everything so much better when you're comfortable with talking in front of groups, or individuals, while presenting your portfolio, projects, and the likes. In other words, learn to be a good speaker!
Design school can and cannot teach you to be creative. School can teach you the necessary technical skills and present you with the ideas of creativity, and why things are the way they are so that you can grow upon them yourself, and create your own unique "style." Being a designer requires you to put your creativity and skills to the test when you're actually getting paid for the job. For instance, say you get a client that asks you to design a marketing campaign for a set of beauty products aimed at teens aged from 12 to 17 years old. Coming up with something creative that'll sell(!) would require you to do the following: Research, latest "fad" analysis, color experimenting, competition analysis, various design mockups, live demo comps, amongst various other combinations of tasks, depending on your task.
There are many aspects of "design" that are very business oriented, and this is definitely something school can teach you rather than having to experience it yourself through failure (and we all know that nobody likes to fail, right?). That's what these professors are there for - to teach you the way of the industry, what people expect, what to expect yourself, and how to prepare for the issues that will arise in your career. Of course, all of these should hopefully be discussed and talked about in the classroom as they are in mine, and if not, you should say something to whoever is in charge of the department. Remember, the best education will come through your own interest and desire to succeed, not anyone else's!
Next up? Good Jobs, Work & Technical Experience, and your Degree in Design.
+ How to be productive in achieving goals after graduating, and after you land your first real job!