Now that you’ve read “Why I chose a two year college” you might be interested in hearing others opinions about this debate. Many others have had to make this very same decision. What do they think? Well, I decided to contact a few of our alumni to get their take on this topic.
Why they chose a two year college
I’ve found that many of our alumni and current students attend Valencia for some of the same reasons I had mentioned previously. For Rick Romot of pH3 Design, Inc. he found cost, qualilty programs, and flexible scheduling as reason for attending:
“There were several reasons I choose to attend Valencia’s Graphics Program. When I first moved back into the country, this was the only state that I had my residency for in-state tuition. Valencia was second to only RSAD (Ringling School of Art and Design), which would have been my first choice, had money not been a factor. Valencia offered night classes and real-world professionals as instructors; this allowed me to begin my career while going to school and get the best education possible from peers in the industry.”
For Amanda Hutton of award winning Design firm, Juicy Temples, it was cost as well as having the option to transfer to a four year program after Valencia:
“I had just finished my first year at FAU and, upon moving to Orlando, wanted to complete my general 2-year requirements quickly and inexpensively. VCC seemed like a great option to springboard to UCF. Once I finished my AA at Valencia and was gearing up to transfer to UCF as a Graphics major, I decided to stay at VCC to pursue my AS instead of my bachelors. Thorough research into both programs, as well as countless interviews with industry professionals, led me to the realization that VCC had a far more adequate & relative program in graphics. I chose to bypass a bachelor degree and utilize other avenues (AIGA, personal research & exploration, networking) to strengthen my education.”
Award winning designer of Big Guns Design, Daniel Ariza, also valued these same benefits Valencia offered:
“I learned that Valencia had really great design program. Not to mention that it was so close and much more inexpensive than any other place I could have gone. I figured if nothing else I could go on to get my AA and go onto a university if the program didn’t live up to my expectations.”
How does the creative industry value two year degrees in comparison to four year degrees?
Although a two year degree helps students gain real world experience and prepares one to work in the industry, there must be a reason why most jobs still continue to list four year degree requirements. After working in the industry for several years now, our alumni such as Rick Romot offer some great feedback about this debate:
“AS vs BS? I might have a PHD in physical education, but that doesn’t make me an Olympic athlete. The level of degree doesn’t always directly apply to how good someone is at something, particularly in the creative industry. However, it must be said that pursuing a higher level of education IS important for certain career goals.”
Award winning designer of Richmond.com, Colette Ruff, is one of our alumni who have relocated and has experienced first hand the stigma that can be associated with a two year degree. Although Valencia is well respected locally, if students decide to move elsewhere they might be faced with this same response to two year degrees. Here’s what Colette has to offer:
“My experience has found it harder to be taken seriously with just an AS degree. Most of the job Market here in Virginia feel that you should know more if you have a BFA of sorts. Getting a BFA can get you into the door more than it would for just the AS.”
Amanda Hutton, who is also the Vice President of the local Orlando AIGA chapter agrees that a two year degree is often not as valued as a four year degree:
“On the whole, I think the 2-year degree is undervalued. It’s arguable whether a student can obtain the hard and soft skills necessary to succeed in the design industry within a 2-year structure. A solid portfolio may possibly compensate for the absence of a bachelor, but anyone who chooses a 2-year degree MUST supplement their education by exhausting all external/internal resources available to them (graphic/design organizations, trade literature/publications, industry events and networking).”
Daniel Ariza has learned to work beyond this reaction, offering that it’s not just about the degree you hold that makes you successful in the industry:
“When I first graduated I was hesitant to tell people that I only a two year degree. But as time went by I came to understand how much more important your portfolio and body of work. Although education is very important, your work and abilities coupled with the relationships you form along the way are most important.”
Would you recommend a two year or four year degree?
Although our alumni’s feel a two year degree along with one’s abilities is more than enough to help land a creative job, alumni such as Colette Ruff and Amanda Hutton agreed that a four year degree is still a wise choice to consider. In fact, they both have plans to return to school in the future to seek a four year degree. Amanda Hutton had this to say about four year degrees:
“I would recommend that students pursue a bachelors whenever possible. Though it’s not always an immediately obtainable goal for every student, the structure of a 4-year program allows the maturation necessary to expand, not limit yourself, on what you’ve learned.”
Rick Romot makes a great point to help students making this tough decision, suggesting:
“The deciding factor should closely be related to the school’s strengths, the experience level of the instructors, and what the student hopes to achieve in their career. If a student is looking to advance their career into a management or a teaching position, a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree may be best.”
When hiring, does the degree make a difference?
Every alumni was asked this question, and they all agreed that although it is certainly a consideration, it is NOT the only factor that leads to hiring new employees. Rick Romot’s response should reassure those of you who might be considering or currently enrolled in a two year institution:
Now a days, you email off your web site to a professional to check out your portfolio. If they like what they see, the bachelors degree is only a formality that can be overlooked. If I were hiring a student out of school, I’d look for three things for either degree:
- Creative potential. You either have it, or you don’t. The experience comes with time and training after the degree is earned. Good ideas are very important to see in a students work.
- Personality. My creative team’s ability to get along well is extremely important. A person should fit in well to the company culture and match up with the company’s goals.
- Work ethic/ability. Being able to produce what the student promises is vital.
What are you thoughts?
So you’ve heard “Why I chose a two year college” and why others have as well. Let us know what you think – two year or four year?