Choosing a design school is an important step in your journey to realizing your dream career. Making the right choice of design school can be the difference between a life-changing educational experience and a mediocre education. There may be practical considerations you already made, such as tuition costs and living arrangements, but here are some extras factors when deciding where you will study to become a design professional.
1. Design Pros as Instructors
Regardless of all other factors, if you don’t have great instructors you will not get a good education. The people teaching you design principles and practices may be the single most important factor in the quality of a program. Before you commit to any design school, find out more about the faculty. The best programs include instructors who are actually working or retired design professionals. Be wary of any school that can’t tell you that most of the teachers have worked as designers.
These teachers not only understand design from a theoretical perspective; their experience working in the field gives them real-world, practical knowledge you cannot get otherwise. Also, instructors who have worked in the industry are able to help students network, meet other professionals, find internships, and ultimately get work after graduation.
2. Select a School with a Variety of Program Options
Even if you think you know what you want in a design program, what area you want to focus on, or the kind of degree or program that is best for your goals, your ideas and goals can change once you jump into the design process. When you begin taking courses you may realize graphic design is not your forte and that you are more intrigued more by other design sectors like fashion styling or interior design.
When you choose a design school that has a variety of programs, you can explore and determine what you really need to study to get the design career you want. This includes a choice of program lengths and subjects. For instance, some schools only offer a two-year degree or certificate programs. You may not have the luxury of spending that much time in classes. Choose a school that allows you to select from longer and shorter courses and all types of design, including interior, fashion, product design, graphic design, website building, and event planning and design.
3. Design Schools Should Teach Art
Art and design are not the same, but they are closely related. You cannot be the best designer, of any type, without having at least basic art skills and knowledge. Subjects and skills like color theory, drawing, art history, composition, and others are the basis of design and help to make design professionals better at what they do.
For example, it may not seem necessary to understand art principles when designing an event, like a wedding. But, if you don’t know color or composition, you won’t be able to create a space and a mood to match your client’s vision. You don’t have to be a great artist or have a fine arts degree, but to be good at design, you must have basic art skills. Don’t settle for a design school that doesn’t include fundamental art courses as part of the curriculum.
4. Location, Location, Location – Choose a Miami Design School
Miami is often listed as a top destination for design in general and also as a great place to work for specific types of designers, like graphic designers. From the famous art deco architecture of South Beach to the luxe interior designs of the city’s top hotels, restaurants, and clubs, the city is known for stunning visuals. But the city is much more than the designs of the past. Lovers of art and design flock here every year for the Art Basel event, and there are many top and up-and-coming designers of all types who call Miami home.
There is even a Miami Design District, as well as an art district, so what better place to learn the art of design than in this South Florida gem? Location is important to students for inspiration, access to the newest trends in art and design, and for being able to connect and network with the established and exciting young designers in the field.
5. Look for a Design School That Helps You Build a Portfolio
When you graduate from your design program, you should possess the skills, techniques, and knowledge needed to craft visual images, interior spaces, event spaces, or fashion, but all of this means nothing if you don’t have anything concrete to show for it. Potential employers and clients need to see much more than a certificate of graduation from a design program; they need to see what you can actually do.
This is why a portfolio is so important for any professional in the design industry. And, it is crucial that your portfolio highlights your best work, is neat, organized and looks professional. You can impress employers or clients with a great portfolio, but you can put them off too if it is messy or unorganized. Creating a great looking portfolio isn’t intuitive, and you will need some guidance as you craft your first collections of work. It may seem like a small thing, but before you choose a design school, be sure that every program includes the production of a professional portfolio.
Becoming a design professional shouldn’t require a lot of time in school or any fancy graduate degrees. What it does require, though, is a solid, high-quality education with instructors who are actually designers and who have the best interests of their students in mind. If you’re ready to find a great design school, don’t make the decision lightly or speed through the process. Check out several design schools, and if possible, consider a Miami design school so that you can learn and be inspired right in the heart of the international design action.