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5 Tips for Choosing a Graphic Design Program

December 20, 2013 IADT General, Graphic Design 0 Comments

5 Tips for Choosing a Graphic Design ProgramChoosing the right graphic design program marks the first step in your journey to become a successful designer. There are hundreds of graphic design institutions across the country and while they may look the same on the surface, they can differ drastically in terms of curriculum and training. Therefore, it's important to do a little research before you pick one. Here are five tips to help you through the process:

1. Look for National Accreditation

While many schools offer graphic design programs, you may be surprised to learn that not all are nationally accredited to give out associate and bachelor's degrees in those areas. Accreditation ensures that the program meets nationally endorsed standards in the profession and continuously reviews and improves its quality. It is especially important when choosing a distance-learning facility. Look for accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) or other nationally recognized agency.

2. Check on Career Development

You're investing your time and money in earning a degree for one big reason: to land your dream graphic design job. Your degree is only one aspect of the journey; you also need to know how to get there. That's why you should look for a school that focuses on strong career development. Look for programs that help you shape your career development strategy, build a strong résumé and portfolio, and offer individual student consultations to help make your dreams a reality.

3. Seek Out Access to the Latest Design Software

In order to succeed in today's rapidly-changing design world, you need to master the latest and greatest graphic design software. Outdated software won't help you learn all that the industry has to offer, and may even hold you back. Noting familiarity with the latest software on your résumé can help you stand out to prospective employers. Look for institutions that offer industry-standard software and technologies to stay ahead of the curve.

4. Ask About Personalized Support

Many schools offer a great curriculum, but due to the size of their programs, they can't offer individual support to their students. In such an innovative field as graphic design, you need personal assistance from industry professionals to help you get the most out of your education. The best graphic design programs employ qualified faculty from the field who can offer students individual attention and professional expertise.

5. Discover a Hands-on Experience

While most graphic design curricula incorporate a small degree of hands-on learning, those that really emphasize practical training can help jump-start your career. Reading about technique, watching video demonstrations and memorizing theory all help you understand more about the field, but the most important thing is getting in there doing it. Hands-on learning provides priceless experience in the industry that can set you apart from other candidates when searching for a job. Therefore, look for a program that truly prides itself on practical learning.

Before enrolling in a graphic design program, seek out the admissions officer to find out as much as you can about the program. You can also ask to speak with current students at the facility. Remember, everyone has different learning styles and career ambitions. Choose a program that fits your individual needs.

Photo source: MorgueFile.

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