Are design degree’s important anymore? I know it’s a bold question, calling into inquiry the very tradition of our higher education system; but given the circumstances today, is it time to change the path of education entirely? Let me start at the beginning…
Last week, I saw on the news that a recent study of high schoolers reported that 36 percent of students would be willing to postpone college, due to economic conditions and other related financial pressures (both their own and their parents’). Intrigued by this notion, I posted the info on Contract magazine’s Facebook page, wondering how such a delay in education could affect the A&D industry in the long run.
One responder to the question, Nathan Bush, a recent A&D graduate (May 2010) who is still looking for permanent design work, shed some interesting perspective on the job situation currently affecting A&D, and I just had to share:
Nathan Bush: (shown left, photo from Bush's Facebook profile page)… The ROI of a college degree doesn't make sense anymore. Once graduated, students are competing for unpaid internships, which cannot sustain life and therefore start working transient jobs. Less people need to go to college. This may mean the A&D community actually may be able to support the graduating population as less people hold degrees.
Contract Mag: But wouldn't degrees be needed to receive licensure and maintain quality of work, especially with so many new programs and technologies to learn? Would firms be willing to train and take on the role of "college instructor"?
Nathan Bush: Not always. When I think about what I learned from my time at two NCIDQ certified institutions, I know I could easily have learned the important life safety and sustainable material to pass the NCIDQ and LEED exams on my own. In fact, I am not prepared for them from my four years of class. Technologies can be learned from a two-year technical degree focusing on the multiple Autodesk programs that would be highly detailed and effective. Firms shouldn't assume the role of "college instructor," rather we should reform what is required for licensure, down from the four-year bachelor's degrees that are often very loose in instruction and extremely expensive when compared to short-term degrees with a higher concentration. The ROI of $50,000 to $60,000 of debt to the first five-plus years of non-payment, due to lack of just and profitable work, does not make much sense anymore. We should sustain education, just take control of its insane inflation.
Time to weigh in: What do you think about design education? Do current practices and concepts need to be redefined as our economy fluctuates and evolves?
Share your opinions by commenting below or by leaving us a post at our Facebook page.