February 15, 2016 - Comments Off on To Uni or Not to Uni? That is the Question
The other week my girlfriend’s younger brother asked her and I for suggestions of which universities outside of London were good for studying graphic design.
There were some obvious options. But actually sitting there and thinking about it for a second, my overriding feeling was to say “don’t go”.
We as a YCC collective, support university education (if you choose to go). And we can see lots of plusses it can certainly bring. Especially if you go to a top university.
But having studied a university degree myself (in advertising and design), I’ve often felt the BA lot get a poorer deal, than say the BSc folk.
For a start, when I paid three grand a year, I felt I still got short changed. Yes facilities were open, but contact time with tutors and lecturers was still at specific times. (After all, they have other lessons and their own work to do.) The library offered me nothing more than what I could find online. The computers were no better than my personal one. And I still had to pay for printing and other materials. I mean, it’s not like I was using a state-of-the-art wind tunnel testing the aerodynamics of 3D printed carbon fibre monocoque structure. I had a pad, pen and Mac.
The three thousand pounds was for the ‘experience’. But not real world experience. The party all night, work all day one. An experience that would involve making friends for a lifetime and incurring a mountain of debt that’s still no smaller nearly 7 years later. It was a fun experience, I’d agree. But one that I’d do all over again for three times the price? I don’t think so.
Why? Well. How many hours did you really sit in a design studio with proper one-on-one tuition from your tutor? How many real world meetings, talks, visits did you do? How opportunities did your university offer you that weren’t already out there?
You can still win a D&AD New Blood Yellow Pencil without being student. You can still get placements without a degree. You can still do agency visits without needing to be in a group of 30.
With a bit of get up and go. Some bright ones can do it themselves.
For £9k these days, you can buy a Mac, rent Adobe CC, sit in a coffee shop in a major city and teach yourself the art of design – with money to spare.
You could get industry feedback on your work and ideas, just by having a crit. You could do work experience or placements without worrying about course work. And you wouldn’t have to write a near useless 12,000 word dissertation that only two or three people may ever read.
I’ve taught myself to code, use InDesign and the rest has been gained through industry experience. So why couldn't a student study it themselves? Think of it a bit like the Open University, but without the piece of paper at the end.
I know it would be asking a lot of an 18 year old to make that call. But what if we (YCC) or others could help them along the way they could find a halfway house between being a student and an apprentice, wouldn't that be amazing?
So what I want to know is, is it doable? Have you done it? Or would you suggest your future self to forget uni and go it yourself? Let me know in the comments.