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Ten Facts About Design Education

It will surprise no one that opinions vary widely about the nature, efficacy and future of design education. But here are ten points of consensus.

1. Design education is more vital than ever as the lines between studio and classroom, undergraduate and professional education, blur. The great art and design schools are better than ever.

2. In addition, many progressive design schools have become muscular, career-oriented, outward looking, engines of growth in the creative community and their local communities. Schools are better than ever at underscoring the power of design to impact commerce, culture, business, society, and the public good.

3. The teaching of basic principles, fundamental skills, and conceptual development should take precedence over software and technology, and effective educators are doing just that.

4. There is a disturbing tendency to teach tech gimmickry, and new graduates often overemphasize design tools at the expense of strategies and solutions.

5. More than nine-in-ten professional graphic designers recommend that aspirants go to design school for the core education itself, for the people you meet, for the wider historical perspective, and for the credential.

6. The vast majority of creative professionals also believe that continuing education and/or formal graduate education can be absolutely vital in order to stay fresh and up-to-date – or to retrain – in this era of constant change.

7. Reality resonates. Most everyone strongly recommends real world experience – mentors, internships, summer jobs, practice interviews, business classes – to shape more well-rounded and employable graduates.

8. In the same vein, there should also be a greater emphasis on basic communication skills – reading, writing, speaking – to complement visual abilities and prepare students for success.

9. Students should lose the attitude; come out ready to work, to learn, to fail before they succeed, to understand their limitations as well as their potential.

10. There is a hierarchy of institutions, as in all industries, but an individual student’s talent and effort ultimately trumps the school in the big picture.