So are you happy with the school you picked?

Hey, I’ve been reading many posts lately, both old and new, and one big question seems to remain unanswered- were/are you satistfied with the school you chose to attend? I’m graduating high school, and while there are a plethora of college “review” sites (eg., none of them have any info relating to the design aspect of a school. So I guess what I (and I think many many many people who visit the site) want to know is, not only was your school “good” (as in top rated), but was your experience fun/enjoyable, the other students more than tolerable, the workload barely manageable, the entering skill level of most freshmen, and what kind of jobs alumni get after graduation/ how prepared you were upon graduation for the “real world”. I know that this seems like a lot, but I think it will be able to help many nervous students who have, up to this point, been used to the world of high school calculus and history, and nowhere near the worlds of art and design.
Thanks to everyone who replies,

Wow, this is a great post. This is what every student that has been posting “What school should I attend” should be saying. I am first going to say that I am very happy with my education. I attended SCAD and I could not have asked for a better education. It was young, fresh, and the program was growing right before my eyes. (I graduated in 2002 which I think was the 5th graduating class) With that said it was very hard in this aspect as professors came and we were moved around a lot. This is not true now. SCAD has a great program, continues to grow and has the most state of the art facility around.

When I think new HS grads going to college and the numerous posts we get from them the one thing that comes to mind is to remember that college is what you make it. Every school is different and every school is going to teach you a different process and way to design. But if you make it what you want to make it you will get all you want out of it. I think all of us have one point in our college career where we wish we had focused more on one project, or stayed in the studio a bit long, or just plain taken more classes in a particular subject. I know I do I am a package designer and wish I had taken more graphic design classes. If you work you ass off you will do well no matter where you are.

I would suggest figuring out what you are interested in. The beauty you have is that when most of us were in HS we did not know what ID was. I originally went to college for Architecture and Illustration. I then discovered ID and fell in love. Once you figure out what you enjoy and what you want to do then you can evaluate each school and go from there. (Don’t be surprised if you parents don’t understand this.)

I hope this helps. I always love it when a student is just plain honest and puts us professionals on the spot like this.

Oh and by the way to answer your question around employment; I work as a package designer for M&M’s/Mars. We are one of the largest candy manufactures in the US. There are a lot of us from SCAD working a great companies.

MY daughter is studying digital design at University of Cincinnati. She LOVES it. She has had great, paid coops ,which were amazing and given her a very strong portfolio.

We were even able to eventually get “in-state” tuition ,which made the schools very inexpensive to that of other top notch art and design schools.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you apply there for any type of design.

I was one of the unfortunate ones. I had a love/hate relationship with my school. The campus, surrounding area, and students were wonderful. I had a blast during my years.

However, we were canceled about halfway through. All the experienced staff member left, and the student body was pretty much left without a prayer. Eventually you learn that your peers (dont forget everyone on core77) are one of the greatest assets, and I dont think I would have learned anything about design had it not been for them. We all seemed to work collaboratively to make the best out of our bad situation.

Best advice i can give is to go to the school, and dont only talk to the heads of the department (I was fed a lot of BS by them about how great the program was). Talk to the professors, and especially the students! they will be the ones to tell you truly what it is like. Do some research to see if the school has an established identity in the design world (if they have a vast diversification of companies they have worked with, you can bet they are pretty well known). Find out if they aid setting you up for internships. being a recent grad with no official internship (We did work with some major companies during the semester), I am finding it difficult to compete against others.

thank you all for the replies (I’m actually going to Cincinnati in four days! really excited about that), this is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for… and joyride, may I ask where you attend(ed) college?

I’m always so amazed my university, NCSU, didn’t have a network or connections to help us find internships when I went through the ID program in the 90s. Students that have that experience when they graduate are light years ahead of students without real-world ID experience…

Hopefully things have changed since then, because otherwise I thought it was a good place to go for an undergrad.

Good luck at Cincinnati!

Cincinnati started the whole coop form of education before anyone; thus, they have a lot of good connections.

However, given the state of the economy, even Cincinnati is having a tougher time placing kids. This is just a fact of economic life. They still have a lot of coops but they aren’t as plentiful or as high paying as they once were.

Maybe my daughter got lucky because she has a very strong portfolio and very strong grades there.

Absolutely! I’ve been to SEVERAL colleges over the last several years that I’ve been working and educating myself, so I have something to compare my current school to.

I love everything about my school. I love the quality of my education. I love WHAT I am actually learning. I like my teachers. I love the atmosphere. I like the people and their attitudes. I even like the food in the cafe – although it needs to be priced at student-friendly levels. I love the city that my school is in. Most of all, I enjoy being here each and every day. On the one hand I’m anxious to graduate, but on the other, I feel that it’s too short a stint and I wish I had come here sooner. I don’t go to the fanciest, most talked-about art/design college in the country. But to me, that’s not what matters in the least.

Agreed with PackageID. This is a terrific thread.

I went to Virginia Tech (as have several other members on this board who are current students or alumni) and was very happy with my education, as well as the direction the program has taken in a very very short period of time.

The best part about VT (other then Blacksburg which is a beautiful and very affordable place to live for 4 years) is that the students are the ones who helped push change. I can’t even begin to stress how much change happened in terms of student quality, educational focus, and graduate quality over a few short years.

Students recognized that there was no coop program and that many of them hadn’t worked hard enough to get internships. 2 Years after I graduated I would say the percentage of upper classmen who got internships went from around 10% (2-3 people a semester) to 50%. Students were the ones who formed group sketch sessions to bring up the collective student body, not just themselves. The quality of students continues to rise which gives me great hopes for the long term evolution of the program, and the design intelligence rankings (which now put the architecture school and design programs all very high) help back that up.

Blacksburg is a little rural mountain town and certainly isn’t for everybody. But if you like drinking, football, and the outdoors it was the best of both worlds - a small program in a big school provides for a lot of opportunities. And despite a lot of bad press from the tragic events in recent years I can’t stress enough how wonderful of a community Blacksburg is.

Ultimately, you get out of college what you put in. VT students have pushed themselves, not been handed opportunities. If you have the mentality of “my school should give ME an internship!” then it’s the wrong place.

I completely agree, but sometimes when you are going through school you don’t quite grasp how important a internship is - I didn’t when I was at the university. If someone doesnt tell you you must have internships, like the university program, it’s not something everyone just knows and they may not put in the extra effort to get one. I did happen to have gotten an internship, by being in the right place at the right time, and it set the pace for almost my entire career

I think every responsible student designer should know that this is an insanely competitive field and they should do anything they can to land a job. If they manage to get through 4 years without realizing how important an internship can be then they haven’t been paying much attention to the world around them.

With that said I never managed to land an internship, so instead I commited myself to developing my weakest skills on my own time and was the first and one of the only graduates in my class to actually land a proper ID job, so theres always exceptions to the rule.

So we agree, It’s very important

like I said, when I went through school ten years ago, internships were not happening very often for classmates around me, and responsible or not I think most students thought they could get a degree and then look for a job.

You are paying the school to teach you the important aspects of the industrial design career. If they are not stressing how essential internships are, than I think there is something wrong

Definately. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make - some schools have very established placement programs - which I still think is great. At the same time I think theres plenty of hard working ID students who get shafted because their schools don’t have those connections.

My point was professors stressed and advertised any internship opportunities they had, but there was never any guarantee of an intenrship and there were no co-op (work for credits) programs. Typically the very best students would land something - Masterblaster has worked with a few of my friends since they’re near VT, but during my time the vast majority of students weren’t prepared to get a good internship. That has changed dramatically which was more of the point I made about VT. Students got more aware of going after internships, and the reward paid off.

My relationship with my school is love/hate, but I wouldn’t trade it. It is a big part of how I evolved. I would say to any student looking to go to RISD to evaluate both its strong and weak points to make an educated decision on whether or not you think it will work for you.

At the end of the day though, if you are going to break into your field and be successful, you are going to do that no mater what school you select.

Yes, I don’t think that most schools emphasize enough the importance of getting internships.

One great thing about University of Cincinnati is that almost EVERY ID student ( and most kids from other design majors)got not only one internship but actually got six durig their college years! It was mandatory and built into the curriculum. … This is the reason my daughter chose Cincinnati over some other top programs…and she hasn’t regretted it one bit. I actually feel a bit sorry for kids who have attended programs that had few internships/ coops and who didn’t seek these out during their college career. Having strong experience will be particularly important in todays weak economic climate.

and not just because of the economy… Having a variety of experiences before getting a “real” job help you to know what else is out there. A student would understand what kind of office environments and styles of design jobs are are possible before really honing in on what they really want to be doing.

If you want to stop by and talk to some students on your visit. Let me know, I’m a sophomore there, and most of us will probably be in studio working so we wouldn’t mind fielding some questions

Exactly. College is as much about your degree as it is the 4 years of your life. Even with a lot of tough times in college I look back on all of the great friends and great experiences and would absolutely not trade it in.

I also had a love/hate relationship but what I learned there, I don’t think I would’ve in another situation knowing how I am.
But that said, it’s really good that there are schools now that push the importance of internships because it wasn’t pushed at all when I was in school. I was the first in my family to ever apply to college or have the potential to work in a job that had resumes and internships (as opposed to applications and uniforms) so I didn’t even know what they were or the importance of them until after I graduated. It was one of those things I guess they figured everyone knew about already so it wasn’t discussed. People come from different backgrounds and exposure to different things so none of that should be taken for granted. How can a person look for something that they’ve never heard of and don’t know they should be looking for?
But like I said, there were good things and bad things and I think it was necessary for me to experience what I did to make me more well rounded and ready to explore as opposed to just going down a rigidly prescribed path.