Management Design Education page 4


Only a minority of students select a school on the basis of program quality or choose one that fits their interests. The majority of students base their application on what they can afford or what is convenient. Sometimes they apply only to schools they have heard about, a teacher or friend has recommended the school, or someone they know attended that institution. The reasons for picking an institution are often superficial to educational goals. There is an assumption by most students that one degree in Graphic Design is as good as another, and it is of little consequence which school they attend. This is a dangerous presumption in any form of professional education.

Over the years I have interviewed with countless students, and sometimes parents, about what school they should attend. My impression is that most students and parents are vulnerable and they are like sheep going to be fleeced. They do not know what questions to ask, and what they want to hear from a teacher is the program at that university is the best one in the country.

The questions that prospective students
or parents should ask:

Is enrollment in Graphic Design limited
to a specific number each year?

If enrollment is not limited, it is likely that there are more majors than can be accommodated at one time and there will be competition to enroll in required classes. This may result in students having to spend one to three extra years getting a BFA degree because of not being able to enroll in required courses because they are full.

How many credits are required in Graphic Design for a BFA?
Any number of credits less than thirty-two to forty in the major is going to be insufficient preparation for a career in Graphic Design. Ideally, there should be forty to fifty credits.

How many Graphic Design instructors?
Any less that four full-time instructors means there is going to be a limited curriculum and that the program is inadequately staffed. A program with less than eighty majors can be effective with four instructors. An ideal teacher/student ratio should be about 1:15. There should be inquiry as to how many instructors are part-time and there should be a reasonable balance between full-time and part-time teachers.

Are majors taught separately from elective students?

If majors and elective students are taught together, it reduces the class intensity and the educational experience for majors will be less.

How many Graphic Design majors in the program?

Are majors determined by student declaration or faculty acceptance? Any number greater than one hundred and fifteen means that courses are taught in more than two sections. If different teachers are instructing in different sections of the same course, there are inconsistencies which compound as students progress through the program. The overall educational experience will probably be less.

Do advanced students have fixed workspace?

Seniors require fixed workspace and it is best if Juniors can also have designated workstations. Fixed workspace contributes to the learning environment and it is a significant factor in student motivation and interaction.

What technical facilities are available and under what conditions?

Graphic Design majors require unrestricted access to computers, xerographic and photographic facilities. Computer literacy is a mandatory requirement for employment following graduation.

If planning a career in Graphic Design and the program cannot meet or come close to these conditions, applicants should not enroll!

If students are enrolled in a Graphic Design program and do not have adequate space or technical facilities; if the program is understaffed or leadership is not working, they should complain! If the institution offers Graphic Design, they are obliged to provide a reasonable educational program. Complaints should be taken to upper administration as teachers and Depart-ment Heads usually cannot make the necessary changes. The Pro-vost and President are the appropriate offices to approach. The conditions should be documented, preferably in writing and restricted to basic issues. Complaints are more effective when done through committee rather than by an individual. Students should be firm and persistent because they are paying tuition and have the right to demand an adequate education. Often it is sheer persistence that is most effective in these situations.

Shortcomings within most state university Graphic Design programs include: one or two person faculties, no appointed leadership, insufficient number of credits in the major, low performance standards, inadequate space, budgets and technical facilities. Furthermore, there are no limitations on student enrollment or screening of applicants for admission into Graphic Design. The Graphic Design program is required to accept elective or part-time students from Fine Art, Art Education or the university at large. Because of these conditions, educational quality and student benefits can be expected to be relatively low.

Given the propensity for bureaucracy to preserve and enlarge, I do not believe that state universities will undertake drastic reforms. Art and design students, to a greater extent than is necessary, will remain victims of state educational systems for some time to come.






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