Product Design at Center For Creative Studies

Hey board,

This is my first post, as I registered in order to get some advice about my future education choices. I received a bs in liberal arts nearly 3 and a half years ago and have been floundering around in low paying dead end jobs since. I was going to transfer to art school when I was 20 (six years ago), but was persuaded not to by my parents. Well, I have come to the point that I need to return to school and have been accepted to CCS for product design, but I am concerned about the job outlook. After browsing this board and others, it seems like a very difficult thing to break into and another degree that I don’t use will be a bummer to say the least. I am a fairly intelligent guy (IQ of 122), but I have to go into something creative or else I will just become uninterested. I am also an INFP, but my F is very close to T, if anybody is familiar with the Myers-Briggs. I know I would love this major and predict that I would do pretty well as my whole life I have been building things, taking things apart to see how they work, redesigning thing to make them work better, etc. etc. At 26, is it too late? It will take me 2.5 years to complete since I don’t have to take any fluff classes since my other credits have transferred.

It is not too late, but you will have to understand that upon graduation you will be competing with kids who are 20-22. So your initial salary will be in that zone. That said , I know several successful designers that have done this. Even though they start at that same entry level as a 22 year old, they tend to rise through the ranks a lot faster, obviously due to their maturity. To name an example, I used to work with the designer who was the lead on both the original Beats Studio Headphones and the Fuego Grill. He found design in his 30’s! One of the best I’ve worked with.

It will be difficult. Being a designer takes more than mere intelligence, it takes heart and balls. CCS will be a lot different than liberal art schools. There won’t be a lot of free time, and their will be a lot of very late nights… but if you do really love it, you’ll barely notice.

I received my ID degree from CCS - a great school and a great program during my time there (92-95). I’m not close at all to the program anymore, but I am told it is still a creative, challenging institution where you go as far as you take yourself. I came to CCS after obtaining a Bachelors in Business Admin, so I felt a bit old entering at 23 years old, but I graduated at the top of my class because of that (like Yo mentioned, one matures quite a bit between 18 and 23). I had no issues landing a job at GM right out the door and even held them off to do some contract work for LEGO first. Subsequent employers had no issues hiring someone older than the majority of the pack and as Yo has observed with others, I too rose quickly to design management.

I didn’t know it was still there, but my school bio is linked here (outdated by 6-7 years now but neat that it’s still there nonetheless);

Not having been from Detroit, it took awhile for my wife (who attended nearby Wayne State Univ.) and I to get used to that city - but in the end, we enjoyed our time there. I highly recommend the Belcrest on Cass Ave., where we lived for three years - huge apartments, very cheap, great views from the higher floors and the roaches were well mannered.


I definitely have taken into consideration that upon graduation I will be competing with 22 year olds and receiving that salary, but as I see it now, that salary will still be better than what I think I will be making not going. After graduation, I have not had a job where I have made more than $30,000. I have worked an office job at a modeling firm, retail, caseworker for a nonprofit (hated it, but relared to my degree and was the only job I could find right away when I lived in Chicago for a year and a half), and now I am waiting tables, working as a trade show product specialist, and fixing up old motorcycles and reselling them. I fear that I will stay on this path if I don’t return. To be honest, when I visited the school and was shown around by the director, I felt really out of place and old to be there, which may work in my benefit as I am not looking for a social life, just to work and progress. The advisors were kind of off putting as they seemed to speak to me as I was an eighteen year old. I do appreciate the advice, and I have some serious thinking to do.

I really would not worry about the age thing.
Yes, you will feel somewhat out of place, studying design (or any mayor for that matter) at a US college being 26 but don’t think it has to work against you.
I was 26 and also had a previous degree, when I entered my design education. What Yo is saying is not just true for later jobs. Given the higher level of life experience and maturity, it is possible for you to direct your education in a whole different way than many of your younger class mates. You will become a little bit of a papa bear figure in class and probably bond more with faculty than with class mates. What might be a challenge is to focus your whole life on the career of design which will be necessary in order to have a shot later after graduation. You asked about the job outlook once you are done and yes, it is a tough market. But as one designer once said to me in a job interview, it is only a tough job market for the mediocre once.

I did my Masters in Sweden where the general age at which students study is a lot higher. This actually makes for a better education, in my opinion.

Good luck with your decisions.