Selecting the Right Graphic Design School


I apologize in advance for this lengthy blog posting! As you can clearly see, I’ve been writing this content for some time now and felt it important to keep the content as thorough and informative as possible. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re about to make one of the most important decisions of your life and your career. Hopefully, you will find this article helpful in deciding what graphic design school is best for YOU.


Step 1:  Determine your goals for using your graphic design education.

I know some of you think I’m crazy for recommending step one be to determine what your goals are, but you would be surprised how little some people have actually thought about their options. For instance, do you plan to teach some day? Are you already in the design industry, but only needing software training to advance or freshen up your skills? Are you starting from scratch hoping that learning more about the technical and visual aspects of visual communication helps you find work as a graphic designer in the industry? Maybe you’re aspiring to own your own graphic design business some day? Is it possible that you’re already thinking about an advanced degree, like a Master’s Degree? Or hey, maybe you don’t want a degree, but you’re just hoping to learn some new skills to play with as a hobby?

Although most of you reading this are just hoping to specialize in what is needed to help you find work in the industry, you’d be surprised to know that not all graphic design degree programs are designed with that same goal in mind!

WARNING: Before you read further, it’s important to mention that “getting a degree” is NOT a goal! Graphic designers don’t find work because they have a degree, they find work because they are able to demonstrate strong understanding of visual, conceptual, workplace and technical skills in their portfolio of visual work samples. If you’re not sure whether you’ve selected the right degree major, stop reading here and instead read this blog posting: “Five Signs You Should Not Major in Graphic Design”. For more information regarding what they industry is expecting of graphic design graduates read this: “What the Industry Expects from Graduates”.

Step 2:  Understand the types of schools out there.

There are various types of schools with various levels of degrees out there to help you attain your goals. Here is a generalized description of the types of schools, including the pros and cons of each type to help you narrow down your search based upon how each does/doesn’t meet your educational needs:

a. Technical Schools: These type of schools can be public or private and generally only offer technical AS Degrees or technical Certificates, which are industry-focused degrees that take 2 years or less to complete. Note, however, regardless of the degree earned, the focus of technical schools are purely technical in nature and will only prepare you to “click and drag”. Since being a graphic designer involves MUCH more than just operating a computer and graphics software in a technically sound manner, it is suggested that anyone who aspires to find entry-level work in the industry as a graphic designer enroll in a school that provides more than just a technical education – one that also focuses a great deal on visual communication, concept development, creativity and typography.

Technical schools are most often selected by people who are already in the industry, but are wanting to brush up on their software/technical skills or as a technical stepping stone to prepare them for advanced learning at another school. It’s important to include that many technical schools do not have the proper accreditation and/or do not have transfer agreements with other schools of higher learning, so check first with the institution you hope to advance to and make sure courses you take at a technical school will transfer if your goals are to move on to another school. Do not be surprised, however if courses you’ve taken won’t transfer. Remember those courses are purely technical and chances are high that just learning “technical stuff” won’t count towards credit at an institution of higher learning due to a mismatch in course content and institutional goals.

It is next to impossible for any designer looking for work in the industry to find work without an exceptional visual portfolio demonstrating skills that go far beyond just computer competency, so tread with caution if you are considering a technical school that boasts you will be able to find work if their degree focus is only technical. Sure, you’ll be able to find work, however probably only as a computer operator and opportunities to advance beyond that in your career will be next to none. It is also important to understand that most often than not, students enrolled in technical schools aren’t creating work that demonstrates enough understanding of visual communication, concept development, creativity and typography to consider putting in their portfolios. A portfolio that merely demonstrates technical/computer skills will not be able to compete against superior portfolios for jobs in the industry requiring more than technical acumen.

A final note of caution: if the program you plan to complete only provides a “Certificate” (regardless of the type of school) upon completion, this is a clear indication that not nearly enough course work in visual communication, typography, creativity and concept development is covered to qualify you for work in the industry. This includes technical certificates awarded by software manufacturers, such as Adobe, for performing well on a technical examination. You will NOT have a visual portfolio that can get you a job upon completion of merely a certificate program.

b. Private Schools that are NATIONALLY accredited offering an array of degrees: Note the emphasis here is on the type of accreditation. Institutions offering graphic design degrees that are not REGIONALLY accredited cannot ensure quality standards of learning are upheld to meet industry and/or educational needs. As a matter of fact, the degrees/courses taken at a private nationally accredited institution, because of their lack of proper accreditation, will not transfer to any public college or university no matter what type of degree you’ve earned.

The degrees earned at a nationally accredited private institution, no matter the level of degree (yes, even if they offer a Master’s or PhD), will also disqualify anyone with hopes of teaching at a public college or university since college professors at regionally accredited schools must have a degree from a school that is also regionally accredited. This doesn’t mean that all teaching is out of the question, however, because degrees from private nationally accredited schools do qualify someone to teach at their own type of school.

These schools, because they are private, charge an exorbitant amount of money to enroll and as a result are able to afford impressively designed and presented marketing collateral, recruitment personnel and learning facilities. You can be assured that the majority of private nationally accredited schools are run much more like a business and much less like an institution of learning. If you’re not planning to teach or to transfer to another school and are unsure of whether the private nationally accredited school you’re interested in will offer you the type of education you’re hoping will help you find work in the industry, consider some of the other points mentioned later in this blog posting before deciding. It is safe to say, however that red flags that indicate the institution is more concerned with their ROI and less concerned with your educational goals are:  1. aggressive marketing,  2. aggressive recruitment,  3. cost that doesn’t fit into the formula mentioned in Step 4 below,  4. recruiters that drive expensive cars and educators that don’t,  5. lack of student work samples available for the public to view that isn’t on some sort of marketing collateral, 6. insufficient accreditation, and 7. a reputation among local hiring professionals that is negative.

c. Community Colleges: Under many situations, this type of school would be lumped into the “Technical Schools” category simply because the degrees they provide are only 2-Year AS Degrees. Surprisingly, however, many of these programs are designed well enough to provide an education that is more like a 4-Year College or University in terms of the quality of industry-focused courses provided. This is mostly due to Community Colleges having the proper regional accreditation as well as regular oversight from industry professionals ensuring students are receiving a good education.

Since the degrees offered at Community Colleges are AS Degrees (focusing primarily on job readiness), you can expect the program to match personal goals to find work in the industry upon graduation. Caution must be applied when selecting the right Community College, however, as many of the AS Degrees in Graphic Design at these type of schools might only provide a technical education if they have the wrong industry guidance regarding what is necessary for graduates to compete for jobs. Remember, it’s the degree to which a graduate demonstrates visual communication, concept development, creativity and typography in his/her portfolio that ensures they can compete in the industry — not the degree itself and certainly not simply savvy computer skills. More often than not, Community Colleges fall short of truly preparing students beyond a technical level, so it’s very important to research a Community College graphics program by viewing student work samples and asking local hiring professionals regarding the quality of the graduates. This will help you know in advance whether or not the program is focused too heavily on the technical aspects of design.

The great news about learning at a Community College is they tend to cost significantly less than any other type of school and, because of their regional accreditation, many courses transfer to 4-Year schools. This cost-saving aspect is often why students begin their coursework at a Community College with the primary goal of transferring to a 4-Year program. Also, if they have a well designed program with talented faculty who don’t just focus on the technical aspects of design you can be assured a great deal of exposure towards industry expectations and ample opportunity to design work that demonstrates those essential visual and conceptual skills needed to compete for jobs. Another great thing about the Community College environment, is you can expect to have exposure to educators who aren’t just professional educators, but are teaching part-time while working full-time in the industry. These are the same people who are out there doing the hiring and who understand just what type of preparation is needed to help their students compete. Not only that, but having exposure to industry professionals will also ensure the fundamental aspects of being a strong visual communicator are not just taught in theory, but are also connected to how they can be successfully applied to the ‘real world’ of design. Do keep in mind, however, that “industry professional” doesn’t always equal “great educator”, so quickly adapting to a vast variety of teaching styles and flaws is expected.

What you save in money, however, expect to pay with your time. Since these are 2-Year programs meant to prepare students for work, you can expect a well designed program to be very intense and focus primarily on industry coursework and less on general education requirements. They do, in fact, only have two short years to get their students well enough prepared to compete against students graduating at the same time with four years worth of study behind them, so there is no room to waste time on course content that strays too far from that goal. Word of caution, a good Community College will provide curriculum and coursework that is extremely intense with a workload that can often be overwhelming due to the 2-Year nature of the program. Full time students can expect to spend anywhere between 24 to 40 hours per weeks just doing homework outside of class. With this in mind, students who plan on working while going to school are recommended to only work part-time to ensure enough time is set aside to learn and apply learning on a deep enough level to produce quality work. Too little time spent applying concepts learned on projects and assignments will equate to less visual maturity (especially in competing for jobs against graduates who’ve had four years to develop), a weak visual portfolio upon graduation and a less likelihood of competing against fellow graduates for industry work.

For AS Degree graduates who have put in their time in a high-quality Community College graphics program and have matured to impressive visual communicators, don’t be too concerned if the job descriptions you’re reading for entry-level Graphic Designers state “Bachelor’s Degree Required”. Really, what they’re wanting is to only encourage job candidates with the necessary visual, conceptual and technical skills to apply. Unfortunately, since many schools only offering AS Degrees have weak programs (and therefore weak graduates), it is not uncommon to be up against a negative stigma that has developed in many regions in the United States that don’t have exposure to a strong Community College Graphic Design Program or who are unaware of the impressive reputation some Community Colleges have earned elsewhere in the country. With this in mind, it is even more so important for graduates of Community College Graphic Design Programs to develop their self-promotional material, resume and portfolio in such a way to educate hiring professionals regarding the quality of their work and the education received regardless of the type of degree. No pressure.

d. Public 4-Year Colleges/Universities and Private REGIONALLY Accredited Design Schools: 4-Year schools (public or private with proper REGIONAL accreditation) offering Bachelor’s Degrees and Master’s Degrees in Graphic Design-related fields are the type most often referred to as required in job descriptions. Just with other types of schools already mentioned, the schools within these categories also have their pros and cons and also require research on behalf of the degree-seeking candidate prior to enrollment regarding the quality of the program, degree emphasis and institutional goals. As you might guess, if you’ve read this far, not all schools are created equal and not all schools provide the same learning opportunities due to differing institutional goals regarding graduates, design of the program, cost and quality of the faculty.

Although most students with Bachelor’s Degrees from a College or University find entry-level work, it is not uncommon to come across reputable institutions in this category who’s graduates don’t compete well for jobs. This is often due to the institutional goals having a “research” focus (expect a lot of course content focused on theory, history and fine art) as opposed to an “employment” focus (hands-on, employability skills, project oriented, technical). This is a good thing for students who, instead of having a primary goal to work in the industry, instead aspire to be innovators, researchers or educators — something this world is always in need of. This is bad news for students who incorrectly assumed the institutional focus was to prepare them for working in the industry. It is not uncommon to witness graduates from research-focused schools complaining of a disconnect between program study and what is actually expected of them as they try to find work in the industry. This, of course, is not the institution’s fault because they have maintained their institutional goals to be research-focused, it is the student’s fault for assuming the institution’s educational goals was to prepare them for work in the industry. Remember, Step 1 above is to make sure your educational goals match those of the institution prior to selecting a school.

Faculty at 4-Year Colleges and Universities more often than not are research-focused themselves with little industry experience. Expect to learn a great deal from them about important typographic, visual and conceptual communication concepts because they tend to be the better educators in that regard. Be aware this might mean what you learn from them isn’t taught in a way that applies to the industry because it’s possible they really don’t know how it applies. Note that “great educator” doesn’t always equal “industry professional”, so it’s often left to the student to figure out a way to connect course content to how it applies towards industry expectations. This can be challenging for most students since they haven’t had enough exposure to industry expectations to be capable of making these important connections on their own.

The only type of 4-Year Bachelor’s program that warrants caution is they type that only offers a Bachelor of Arts/Fine Arts with merely a “Studio Art” focus. This is because there is too little coursework required that is graphics industry-focused, giving students inadequate opportunities to master any aspect of the graphic design industry. This also means a “Studio Art” degree won’t provide enough opportunities to adequately develop a competitive visual portfolio. If you’re unsure if the curriculum for the various schools offering Bachelor’s Degrees will provide adequate opportunities for your portfolio, just count up the total number of courses required that are specifically design-related. Ideally, the coursework for a Bachelor’s Degree in design will be approximately half of the total number of classes you’re required to take.

The cost for these type of schools will vary depending on whether or not they are public or private and whether or not you qualify for in-state tuition rates. More will be discussed regarding cost of schools in Step 4 below.

Step 3: Determine if location is important

In the case where you live in a region or state that lacks a reputable program that meets your educational goals it is highly recommend, instead of just picking the closest program, you pursue enrollment in a program elsewhere. Whatever you do, don’t select a program simply because it’s nearby if the program isn’t matching your goals or doesn’t provide a strong learning opportunity for you. Although the convenience will certainly be irresistible, it will prove to be disappointing in terms of time and money invested towards an education you feel is useless when the time comes for you to need it. It’s mentioned in Step 4 below, however; you will need to be aware of what the cost implications are if relocating.

As of the date of this posting, there is one school that is working hard to transcend location by offering a strong program purely online. Note, there’s only ONE program that has been able to do this successfully for a program of study, such as graphic design, that is visual and often tactile in nature. In case you’re wondering, the school I’m referring to is SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) which is a private properly accredited art and design school that comes with a pretty hefty price tag. Not a single school offering a graphic design degree online (other than SCAD) as of this posting has a strong enough, reputable enough or well enough accredited program for me to consider recommending. Online degree programs are NOT for everyone, so it’s important you know well enough in advance if you are disciplined enough and already possess strong enough independent learning skills to learn in that type of environment.

Related to location, however, I’ll touch upon how in-state and out-of-state tuition ought to be a consideration when it comes to the cost for a higher education in graphic design in the next step below.

Step 4:  Weigh the cost/benefit

All across the nation, more and more people are understanding the importance of a higher education when it comes to reaching career goals and earning a living. The same financial opportunities exist today, however, just as they always have for low-income earners, so finances alone should not necessarily be the sole factor in determining if you seek a college education. Believe it or not, there might even be more opportunities than ever before for low-interest student loans, scholarships, grants and part-time employment while attending school to help pay for the cost. This ought to be very encouraging for those of you who have financial challenges you feel might interfere with your ability to go to college. No matter how rough your financial situation is, affording college will take proper personal financial planning, a TON of paperwork to apply for aid and possibly part-time or full-time work with a part-time school schedule. It is not recommended any student consider a full-time school workload if he/she is also working full-time… rushing through your graphic design education for financial reasons will only hurt your job prospects if your visual portfolio only demonstrates what “you have time to do” versus what you’re truly capable of doing. It’s the tortoise in this case that will win, not the hare.

There are many additional costs that ought to be planned for beyond tuition you can expect when selecting a school. There’s housing, transportation, food, books, supplies, fees and no doubt other things I can’t even come up with right now. Don’t forget to plan those items into your cost equation. Make sure you fully research whether the school you’ve chosen is primarily a commuter school with no housing facilities or whether or not they provide dorms to students at an additional cost. Each of those scenarios will also have to be weighed in the context of transportation considering students who are staying in campus housing will have very low transportation costs, while those who have to commute to school will probably have lower housing but higher transportation costs.

Regardless of whether or not you have any financial concerns, the cost of higher education at some schools can be set way too high considering a major in graphic design. My favorite radio/tv talk show host, Dave Ramsey, provides financial advise as it relates to the cost of a higher education I’ve always felt just hits the nail on the head. In a nutshell, he counsels parents and students to only pay a price for higher education that is equal to or less than what you will be making in your field upon graduation. So if you expect to be making around $30,000 your first year employed as a graphic designer, which is a pretty average estimate nationally, then the cost for your degree should be that amount or less. Yes, even if Harvard had the best design school in the nation (costing approximately $55,000 per year!), it would not be worth what they charge to earn their Bachelor’s in Graphic Design unless you could expect to make $200,000+ right out of school being a graphic designer. Dave Ramsey also provides additional college-related spending advice that I have come to respect and admire over the years you should also take into consideration:

It is common practice for pretty much any type of school to charge three or four times the amount of tuition for students who are enrolling from out-of-state. This is certainly a cost consideration that needs to be factored into whether or not the cost benefit of a higher education in graphic design is within the range mentioned above. The cost of education CAN actually be rather low if you’re fortunate enough to be residing in a state that has a reputable graphic design program at a state college or university. Whatever you do, don’t assume that the program isn’t strong simply because it cost less! A great example of this is Virginia Commonwealth University, one of the most reputable schools in the nation for their arts and graphic design programs. It would seem silly if anyone living in the state of Virginia were to pay three times the tuition cost to attend a graphic design program outside of the state, when a phenomenal education can be obtained at the low in-state tuition price!

Spending more on your graphic design education will not earn you a higher paying graphic design job your first year out. And Remember to also consider Step 3 above (Determine if Location is Important), when doing your financial planning as well. You don’t want to make the mistake of selecting the wrong school for you simply because they’re the cheapest and closest guys in town. Steps 1 and 2 are more important determining factors.

If you’re needing to research what graphics designers are making these days, AQUENT and AIGA partner together each year to bring to you The AIGA/AQUENT Survey of Design Salaries.

Step 5:  Select your school and enroll

Lets say you read this entire post and you’re still considering selecting the wrong school for the wrong reasons. All I can do is share this one final thought with you all:  It saddens me every semester to hear stories from students who had selected the wrong school first, graduate and cannot find work, have weak visual portfolios, cannot transfer their credits, have accumulated $85,000+ in student loan debt and who have wasted years of their life earning a degree they find useless. It saddens me because there is no advice I can give and no magic wand I can wave that will qualify them for work, give them their time back or pay off their debt. Please, accept the advice in this blog posting openly if you happen to read it BEFORE you choose a graphic design school because once you’ve made that very important life decision, there’s not much more any of us can do if you make the wrong choice for the wrong reasons.

Categories:   general info, industry expectations


  • Posted: October 30, 2010 15:51


    Kristy, This is an awesome article! It's very thorough and covers almost everything needed to make an informed decision regarding graphic design school. I have researched a plethora of schools, and it also saddens me to see and hear about students who went to "profit schools" that also happened to be nationally accredited. They pretty much got screwed and had to start allover in another school. Please Please students and returning students Please take heed to this article and DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! I can't emphasize that enough. With the internet at your fingertips, there are few to no excuses as to why you can't do your research on different schools, programs, referrals, etc. Please don't wait for your parents or someone else do it for you. After all, it's YOUR future. Best of Luck to all!
  • Posted: November 1, 2010 22:51

    kristy pennino

    i would click the "like" button for your reply if this was facebook, diana! :-)
  • Posted: November 4, 2010 23:01


    Awesome post Kristy! I couldn't agree more. :) I'm so glad I decided to goto Valencia over SCAD, which definitely wouldn't have fit in with your advice per #4 (even though you do recommend their online degree program). I did a lot of hard thinking the summer before my freshman year (this semester), and eventually decided it wasn't worth the money, when I already had access to such a great graphic design program locally (Valencia's)! Correct me if I'm wrong, but VCC's graphics program sounds like a combination of all the pros of each different type of school you described. To anyone who might read this comment, I strongly recommend getting ANY graphics related degree or certificate from Valencia. I've had an awesome experience so far, and can't wait to see what the next 5 semesters will be like! I think I made the right choice... :)
  • Posted: November 5, 2010 19:06

    Jonathan Bonilla

    Well to be honest, I pretty much fell ass backwards into VCC. So I guess I should consider myself pretty lucky to be enrolled in VCC's graphic design program. I am new when in comes to graphic design and the many elements within it. But I must say, the more I learn graphic design here at VCC, the more I love to learn graphic design. And I can't help but to think that this thirst for knowledge is influenced by my instructor at VCC and by the way this curriculum is set up. It is comforting to have an instructor that can't help but to show passion for what they do and eagerness to share their experiences in the industry. Seldom have I seen this in my years of schoolinglearning and I look forward to going to every class because of it.
  • Posted: November 15, 2010 04:08

    Justine Greene

    Thanks for this informative blog, Kristy. I'm still a first semester student in the program, so a lot of this is a little before I need ti hit it, hard, but....I like having the resources already on hand, for when I do need to start seriously considering the next steps beyond VCC. (I conveniently tagged this to my Delicious bookmarks, too. LOL) And some of the information is applicable, even now, so again...THANKS!
  • Posted: May 11, 2012 20:47

    Mindi Johnson

    I wish I had read this article before spending months debating about starting here at VCC. This outlines all the things I was taking into consideration, but also mentions the one thing that sold me on this program- the technical certificate. I'm coming from a previous career that had nothing to do with design and I was looking for something cost effective and close to home that I could throw myself into while I was staying at home with my young child. I didn't just want "hobby" classes, but real college level work in a direction that I would consider pursuing as a career. It took a chance meeting with an adviser (of a different program, but still gave me the idea) who guided me to the idea of a certificate with real classes, but not the two year full time course load. In five classes, I get a taste of the industry, I get to gauge my talent for it, I get to work on projects applicable to day to day work load, and I can do it with the same instructors and standards as the people pursuing more advanced education. With my schedule of taking care of my three year old and expecting another one soon, I'm able to take one class at a time and still make progress towards lifelong goals. I've always loved to design, and now I have some "book learning" to back it up without having to choose every bit of my future career path right now.
  • Posted: September 3, 2013 20:16

    Chelsea Palmer

    This is an amazing post and one that I will definitely keep referring back to in order to keep myself on track. Reading the words, "'getting a degree' is NOT a goal!" is definitely something you do not see everyday. The idea that graphic design is an industry where you are able to present yourself by the skill set you have and the current (and ever-changing) knowledge you have under your belt regardless of an official degree creates a sort of 'sigh of relief' inside. I know this shouldn't last for long, as having to prove yourself and the talents you have far surpass the level of daunting associated with simply getting a degree. In a lot of ways, graphic design is a field that presents this infinite realm of possibilities unlike some careers where the "the goal" educationally may be getting that piece of paper and not much else. While this may be overwhelming to some, this excites me. I am right at the cusp of this journey and even just one week of classes shows me how important it is to continue to constantly be learning in this field. When taking cost factor into consideration school-wise, what's huge to consider is essentially what is being conveyed in this post saying that a higher costing education does not directly correlate to a higher paying job right off the bat. I think that going through this journey, what I put into the work I do through every step and the amount of focus I give to the insurmountable amount of things I am learning are essentially directly correlated to what is going to make me and anyone in this field successful for any future we may have in this creative and exciting industry.
  • Posted: September 3, 2013 22:38

    Jeffrey M Long

    I would say after you review all the information in this article that you also consider this: The Graduation Student Portfolio showcase; Schools that have their Student Portfolios showcased give you an inside look at the results of their programs. It is generally a big red flag when schools want to hide their all their students work and be very selective with their graduating classes. Art Center, for example, does a FULL student showcase of their graduating classes, so does Feng Zhu's School of Design. Attending Student Blogs; Some schools encourage students to blog their progress during their attendance. I look at how the students are growing to really see how well their programs are educating the students. Difficulty of Entrance; Picky schools are generally good schools too. If you're allowed in with NO portfolio review or any real requirements, its PROBABLY A BAD idea, especially if its a costly school. In order to know where to place you, they need to gauge your current skill upon graduating Valencia, it also keeps the Degree class's smaller for more attention from the instructor. It also says they want the best to produce the best and are not just after your money.
  • Posted: September 5, 2013 01:04

    Kelly Timmins

    I was thankful to come across this post because it only continues to emphasize the fact that attending VCC for Graphic Design was the right choice. I actually come from a really interesting perspective - I currently work for a for-profit, nationally accredited school here in Orlando that offers degrees in Graphic Design. However, for a multitude of reasons, I chose immediately to pursue my degree elsewhere. This educational journey is actually the first step for me to move into a different and more rewarding career path. I agree wholeheartedly that students need to research their options and consider their end goals before making a concrete decision. Additionally, I think it's important to note that, no matter how extensive and advanced the education, it's always going to be up to the student to continually push themselves and remain open to future growth. Super helpful article! I'm hoping it continues to gain exposure!
  • Posted: September 2, 2014 15:01


    Before coming to VCC I was already looking at big fancy schools like Full Sail and Ringling. I already spent a lot of money at UF getting my Bachelors and ended up not finding a job, so I didn't want to do the same mistake twice. I chose VCC because I learned that its not the school that makes you who you are or gives you the best job, it's you. If you put the time and determination and take advantage of every resource you can make it.
  • Posted: September 3, 2014 21:21

    Shannon Rice

    I feel incredibly lucky to have already been living in Orlando when I decided to pursue a technical certificate from Valencia College. After being accepted into the Advertising/Public Relations program at UCF, I was heavily interested in minoring in Graphic Design and was really disappointed when I looked at the program they offered there. Reading through this blog post has confirmed that I made the right decision in choosing to attend Valencia as a transient student. Not only am I saving a lot of money, I am learning a lot of valuable information that they don't even offer at UCF. I chose a technical certificate to help better myself in the field of advertising without necessarily becoming a graphic designer. From what I understand, the skills that I will take away from Valencia will help me improve my abilities as a copywriter as well as how to carry myself as a professional in this field. I'm incredibly thankful that I managed to make the decision before I decided on studying somewhere like Full Sail, something I gave a passing glance to. I would highly recommend this blog post to any prospective students unsure of what to do or where to start.
  • Posted: February 18, 2015 17:13

    Sean Valdivieso

    This article reaffirmed several of my beliefs while also giving me insight to many angles that I had not yet looked through. Majoring in Graphic Design has obviously put me in the place were I desire to graduate and receive a degree. Yet, I understand a degree is essentially invaluable unless I have honed my skills in the art of design. Being a freelance cinematographer, I have never been asked for a degree or certificate, only my portfolio. However, attending a good school that excels in the field of graphic design can only benefit me. Valencia's program is a 2 year program, which can allow me to graduate in a timely fashion while also being able to work. By continuing to seek my degree through Valencia, I can insure myself that I will not be graduating with any debt. This is important because as a student we can easily undermine the amount of debt we are accumulating and the pace at which we will actually pay it off.
  • Posted: May 14, 2015 20:39

    Ashley Nicolle

    This article definitely opened my eyes to the different options there are when choosing a design school. My initial goal when first attending Valencia was to simply get an AA degree and later on decide on a field I'm not only interested in, but also passionate about. I chose Graphic Design because it has always interest me; plus my friends and family have always been impressed with my art work. Furthermore, when choosing a University to pursue my Bachelor's Degree, I was thinking of attending Full Sail University or the Arts Institute, but since they are both private schools, they require a lot of money. I understand that college is expensive but I believe that there is a happy medium when it comes to the supply and demand. supply meaning what the school has to offer and demand by what it'll cost me to attend. -Ashley Montanez
  • Posted: September 3, 2015 04:41

    Kelsey Isenhour

    Hi! My name is Kelsey Isenhour! I just wanted to thank you so much for writing this article! I have really been struggling trying to figure out if I am going in the right path or not attending valencia and transfering to UCF. After reading this article I have to say I am not more confident in my decision! I believe as long as I put my heart and soul into my work that I will achieve in greatness no matter what school I attend. I also believe that I have to stay focused and keep my grades up and prove to future companies why I am the best for their company. My graphics teacher said that valencia has the best programs for graphics and design! I am extremely excited to continue in this course!
  • Posted: September 5, 2015 05:54

    Christian Chiok

    Thanks for all your efforts on writing this article as I have learned things that I didn't know.. As someone who has made it their goal to become a graphic designer, it is important that I make the right choices to have a successful career path. I know that I need to get into the right school, especially one in which I can build a strong portfolio if I ever want to get a job as a graphic designer. Luckily, the cost of Valencia's classes isn't that expensive, so I am able to fulfill my career choice with no issues. Honestly, I really appreciate you taking your time to write this article and I look forward to the future semester to come.
  • Posted: September 5, 2015 21:09

    Nathalie Estremera

    Thanks for all the time that you put into this article, the time you put was really shown. I found this really interesting because during high school I was trying to figure out what kind of school would be right for me. I was looking at the prices, the value of education, and how far away I wanted to be from home. What you said was definitely true about universities being so high in price, when you can get about the same level of education from a community college for cheaper although you may have to work harder since it's about 2 years to obtain the degree. I went to a technical school before attending Valencia and I can honestly see the difference between a community college and a technical college. Technical schools do teach you more on how to work with software on computers and doesn't really focus on beginning stages of designing. However you do get the certifications and get to know the software pretty well, you don't get a really good understanding of how to draw all your ideas before doing it on the computer to understand how to get ideas planned then designed.
  • Posted: September 6, 2015 22:20

    Ana P

    KPennino, This length of this post alone should deter any single person from assuming that pursuing any degree is a commitment rather than an impulse. Much preparing goes into preparing for this decisions: mentally, physically and financially. I can safely say that if one doesn't day dream of doodling or finds themselves feeling overjoyed about creating and supporting art int he local community then there will long term impediments. I find the evaluation tips of a university listed here as beneficial because it will help me appropriately prepare for my next move, my Masters. I know see what details to take analyze when considering a local, national or international institution.The scary part is probably narrowing down 20 "good" options and then self-reflecting to weigh the pros-cons. The economic times of 2008 initially swayed me in a different career searching for million dollar question: Recruitment and Job Security. Many great points and lots of valid arguments seen here as food for thought. Great work!
    • Posted: September 21, 2015 16:28


      hi ana! let me know if you would like feedback on the best master's degree options. :-) -kristy
  • Posted: September 8, 2015 04:50

    Diem Sarah Thi Truong

    The article is very thoughtful and informative. I studied science in my undergrad degree and now that I am switching fields, I was hesitant to start over, thinking that an undergraduate degree is the ticket to a career or even graduate school. Thankfully that is not always the case, especially in the design field where it seems that experience and portfolios speaks for itself. Although I see that there are many graphic artists who are self-taught, I am someone who needs structure and guidance when learning a new skill. I thought about going back to school, without financial aid, I couldn't afford a public or private 4 year degree. This is why I am glad that an AS degree exists for this major. I chose it because it was within my financial means, close to my family where I can commute from their home, and provides an opportunity to prepare a portfolio and participate in an internship. Although I regret not changing directions sooner, I am at peace now with my decision as I feel it is the right choice.
  • Posted: September 9, 2015 17:11

    Angelo Alvarez

    Really good and interesting thoughts in this article, I personally identify myself with one of the questions at the very beginning, since I'm already in the industry for me is more learning the software in order to understand, perhaps advance in my skills on what I do for a living. I believe that understanding schools out there its crucial, not just financially speaking but from the educational stand point even more, considering like the article mentioned the outrageous amount of money students have to pay for these nationally accredited institutions which will affect their ability to find the job they always wanted. I personally attended to one of this institutions and became really disappointed, and found Valencia College in which I already obtained an IT degree, and now trying to learn even more about graphic design so one day I can perhaps succeed in my work place or somewhere else.
  • Posted: September 10, 2015 15:22

    Clarissa Antioquia

    As soon as I read this article I thought, "I really wish I read this 5 years ago!" I can totally vouch for the harsh realities of not knowing if the program is aligned with your goals. When I started out at a public 4 year university at UF, I knew I wanted to be a designer so I chose architecture. 4 years later and 1 year in the actual field of architecture, I was not prepared for the reality of the industry. My coursework at UF used buildings as a medium to think design. We learned concept generation, visual communication, and creativity, we learned how to program and plan to create beautiful experiences. I absolutely loved this part of what I do. Unfortunately, the field itself (at least working in the US) delved into those skills during a project for maybe 10% and the 90% was something I never learned UF. The school I went to was research driven and there wasn't a strong emphasis on career readiness. The positive side from this experience is that I now have a foundation and I can see how this way of thinking can relate to so many industries which is very exciting. Knowing my goals and the direction I want to go now, I can say that being within proximity to a good design program is a blessing. Tuition is definitely not cheap and time is valuable which is why a technical certificate is a great option for me.
  • Posted: September 6, 2017 02:16

    Seanye Perkins

    This blog was very helpful. There's information I could have used a little sooner, but now I know. lol