Graphic design is a highly sought-after skill in today’s digital world – and especially in South Africa, with a wide range of career opportunities available for those who possess it. However, not all graphic design courses are created equal, and it’s important to do your research before signing up for one. Apart from the regular questions about fees and certification there are other critical factors to enquire about before signing up for graphic design courses online or face-to-face.
Then it comes to graphic design courses, the design space and art field are less concerned with diplomas and degrees and more concerned with your actual design skills, artistic talent, work ethic, and portfolio. Seek a course that develops those aspects. The South African government has realized that actual skills are what is required in South Africa and is replacing the Seta qualifications with the The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) new skills and trade based qualifications.
The field of design education has changed drastically in the last couple of decades. Previously your only option to learn was through a university. Now there are cutting edge schools such as Pixel Craft who offer graphic design courses that are modern, and are aligned to the industry providing you with the skills you actually need to start your design career – rather than drowning you in theory and student debt.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at five critical things to check before enrolling in a graphic design course. By considering these factors, you can be sure that you’re choosing a course that’s the right fit for your goals and needs. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced designer looking to improve your skills, these tips will help you make an informed decision.
1. The Curriculum
The curriculum of graphic design courses are one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a graphic design course. It is the blueprint of what you will learn, the topics that will be covered, and the way the material will be presented. A lot of colleges in South Africa buy “off the shelf material” and deliver it with no customization or consideration for the current industry. It’s important to understand that the art and design field is far more fuild than academic fields and therefore graphic design courses should be constantly updated and customized to the needs of the industry.
The reality is that we are living in a digital age which makes a lot of the old hand art techniques redundant in real-world work situations . If a course is more about painting and drawing instead of digital work then you need to be aware of that going in.
Questions to about the curriculum:
- What is the balance of theory and practical ?
- Does the course cover the industry standard Adobe applications?
- Will I be learning the current industry tools and techniques?
- Will I learn the essential aspects of design?
- How much time will be spent on art history and essay writing?
- What are the outcomes of the course?
- What other disciplines in media design will I gain skills in?
- What skills will I acquire?
- How will I be assessed ?
- Is the course more academic or practical ?
- How has this course been aligned to meet the industry needs?
- Does this course actually prepare me for the job of being a graphic designer?
2. The Instructors
An overlooked factor when choosing from the available graphic design courses is the instructor’s qualifications and experience. A skilled and experienced instructor will be able to provide you with valuable insights and feedback and guide you through the learning process. Just being a graphic designer does not qualify one for authoring or leading graphic design courses.
You should ask questions about the instructor’s qualifications and experience, such as their educational background and professional experience in the graphic design industry. Find out if they have any certifications or awards in their field. Also, it is beneficial if the instructor is still active in the industry, as they will be able to provide you with current and relevant knowledge.
Having an instructor with industry experience is particularly important as they will be able to provide you with real-world examples and case studies that will help you to understand the concepts and techniques covered in the course. They will also be able to provide you with valuable networking opportunities and advice on how to succeed in the graphic design field.
To ensure a quality learning experience the instructor should be well-versed in design with a portfolio of his/her artwork to demonstrate his level of expertise. There are a lot of colleges that employ past students who may have done well in their graphic design courses but have no real industry experience.
Questions to ask about the instructor:
- How many years of actual industry experience does the instructor have?
- How many years of teaching experience does the instructor have?
- Has the instructor taught graphic design courses before ?
- What certification does the instructor have?
- Is the instructor a qualified assessor who is able to give meaningful feedback to learners?
- Does the instructor have material developer qualifications if he/she is writing graphic design courses.
- Can the instructor or institute provide contactable references or testimonials from previous learners?
- How does the instructor support and mentor the learners?
- Does the instructor have a portfolio of design and artwork that demonstrates their skill level and expertise ?
3. The Schedule
Graphic design courses can vary in length and schedule. The duration of the course and the time commitment required will affect your overall learning experience and the ability to balance other responsibilities.
You should ask questions about the course schedule and whether it fits your lifestyle. For example, if you have a full-time job or other responsibilities, you’ll want to look for a course that’s a part-time graphic design course. Remember, education is a business, the longer they can keep you there the more they can charge you. Compare the duration of the course with the actual instruction time. You will be surprised.
The course length should be long enough to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, but not so long that you lose interest or motivation. Consider how many hours a week you can commit to the course and how long the course is. The days of four years full time (most of which is not actual instruction time) are being phased out.
It’s also important to factor in the additional time you may need outside of class hours, such as homework and project work, so that you can plan accordingly. Remember all graphic design courses will require a lot assignments and project work. You need to ensure you will have time to do these.
Questions to ask about the schedule :
- What is the duration of the course?
- How many hours per week is the course?
- What is the class schedule? Are the classes held at a specific time and day?
- Is the course offered online or in-person?
- Is the course self-paced or is there a set schedule?
- Will there be any additional time required outside of class hours, such as homework and project work?
- How will the course schedule fit with my other responsibilities, such as work and family commitments?
- Are there any additional course costs associated with the schedule, such as travel or accommodation?
- Are there any additional materials or equipment required to take the course, and how will the schedule accommodate for that?
4. The Fees
The cost of graphic design courses is obviously an important factor for the average South African. Do not be fooled into thinking that higher costs always equal a better learning experience. Most of the high cost, self-styled institutes have high overheads in terms of building they are renting and so on- guess who’s fitting the bill for that – that’s right, you!
Remember you are not taking the facilities with you at the end of the course – you are taking what you have learned and the skills you have gained – that is it.
It’s important to ask questions about the cost of the course, including additional expenses such as materials, software, or field trips. You should also find out if there are any financing options or payment plans.
It’s important to consider the return on investment when it comes to the cost of the course. A more expensive course may offer more comprehensive training and resources, but it’s important to consider if it’s worth the cost in relation to your career goals. Additionally, you may want to weigh the cost of the graphic design courses you shortlist against the potential earning potential in your chosen field.
It’s important to also weigh the cost of the course against the potential earning potential in your chosen field.
Questions to ask about the course fees:
- What is the overall cost of the course, including any additional expenses such as materials ?
- Are there any financing options available, such as scholarships or payment plans?
- How does the cost of the course compare to other similar courses in terms of value and resources provided?
- How does the cost of the course relate to the potential earning potential in the graphic design field?
- Are there any additional costs such as travel or accommodation associated with the course?
- Are there any additional costs for certification or accreditation at the end of the course?
- Are there any discounts or promotions currently available for the course?
- Are there any free online resources or MOOCs available that could help supplement the learning process?
- Are there any other costs, such as equipment or software, that will be required to complete the course?
- Are there any other costs such as textbooks, or online subscriptions that will be required to complete the course?
5. The Reviews
The proof is in the pudding! Forget all the glossy advertising, forget the facilities or pushy sales person – you will get the truth in the reviews. Look at google, facebook and hellopeter for reviews before signing up for any graphic design courses. However remember that institutes are run by human beings and a bad review may not tell the whole story. Don’t let one bad review dissuade you from an institute.
They provide insight into the course content, teaching style, and overall learning experience from the perspective of past students. You can find student reviews and testimonials on the course website, social media, or review sites. It’s important to read a variety of reviews to get a well-rounded understanding of the course. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback, as they can provide valuable insights into the course’s strengths and weaknesses.
The opinions of past students can provide valuable information on the course’s content, teaching style, and overall learning experience. Pay attention to students’ comments on the instructor’s approach to teaching, the level of support provided, and the relevance of the course’s material to the graphic design industry.
When considering student reviews and testimonials, it’s also important to keep in mind that everyone’s learning experience is unique, and a course that may not have been the right fit for one student may be perfect for you. It is also important to consider the time frame of the reviews, as the course may have improved or changed since the reviews were written.
Another key fact to remember is that this field is and artistic one which is not set in stone so don’t expect all graphic design courses to have the same outline or reception from students.
How to interpret reviews from students:
- Look for patterns in the reviews. If multiple students mention the same issue or compliment, it’s likely that it’s a consistent aspect of the course.
- Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback. Positive reviews can provide insight into the course’s strengths, while negative reviews can provide insight into areas that may need improvement.
- Pay attention to the specific details in the reviews. For example, if a student mentions that the course’s material was not relevant to the graphic design industry, it may indicate that the course is not providing up-to-date information or is not tailored to the current industry standards.
- Keep in mind that everyone’s learning experience is unique, and a course that may not have been the right fit for one student may be perfect for you.
- Take reviews with a grain of salt. Everyone has different expectations and preferences, and what one person found unsatisfying, another person may find perfectly fine.
- Also, consider the time frame of the reviews, as the course may have improved or changed since the reviews were written.
In this blog post, we’ve discussed the importance of researching and carefully considering various factors before enrolling in a graphic design course. The five critical things to check before signing up for a graphic design course are the course curriculum, instructor qualifications, course length and schedule, cost, and student reviews and testimonials.
The course curriculum should align with your goals, be tailored to your level of experience, and provide a balance of theory and hands-on practice. The instructor should have relevant qualifications and experience, and should be able to provide you with valuable feedback and guidance. The course length and schedule should fit with your lifestyle and the time commitment you’re able to make. The cost of the course should be considered in relation to your budget and the potential earning potential in the graphic design field. And student reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the course’s content, teaching style, and overall learning experience.
By taking the time to research and consider these factors, you’ll be able to choose a graphic design course that’s the right fit for you and set yourself up for success in the field of graphic design.
Which course is best for graphic design?
Bearing all the above in mind, we have put together, perhaps the best of all the graphic design courses available – check out our graphic and media design programme! Read the reviews on Google, and join us on facebook!