Another back to school conundrum
August 1, 2005 1:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about going back to school for a BS in Interactive Media Design from an Art Institute. Is a 4 yr BS program worth it?

I already have a BA in English Lit. Enough said. I'm currently working the 9-5 life of a glorified admin. I make good enough money but fear I'm losing the will to live.

I've been thinking about going to some kind art school for forever and a day and I finally think I've found what I want to do. This particular Art Institute has an 8 semester program which would spit me out with a BS in Interactive Media Design (graphic design, web design animation etc...) I, hopefully, can transfer my previous Gen Ed credits which would cut my class load down by 10 (about 2 semesters worth). This means I would only be in school for 2-3 yrs.

Is it worth it for a BS? It's an undergraduate degree, but a fairly dense one. I have no graphic skills to speak of, but my little heart starts beating happy and faster at the oppurtunity to learn.
posted by Constant Reader to Education (4 answers total)
Ordinarily this question is asked by people with at least a modicum of web/graphic design experience who are looking to learn more in order to get a better or slightly different job. In those cases, the answer is usually "The best education you can get would be on-the-job learning, and comes with an added advantage over school: They pay you. And anyway, the first two years will likely be review."

In your case, however, being as you are completely without any design or art training, I might be inclined to say that yes, it would be worth it.
posted by ChasFile at 1:49 PM on August 1, 2005


I've worked for the last several years in interactive media - specifically in the advertising and marketing industry - and I've gotten more than a little jaded, so this may not be the answer you want and you would do well to consider my ennui when reading it.

Interactive media, as I have experienced it has some major, major foundation problems for an industry. The short answer, of course, is that technology moves just too damned fast. Either languages, programs or skillsets become obsolete and are left behind entirely or they expand and you wind up with specialties within them. Within 5 years, if you haven't really kept afloat, then somebody just out of college will be more skilled in the latest and newest tricks, and do your job for a fraction of the price. I have seen far too many friends priced out of jobs.

You don't have this problem quite as much with traditional media, as if some new look, color or camera angle comes into vogue, it doesn't really change the production aspect of things. Shoot the photos, set the type, spit it all out in the Adobe program of your choice. With interactive, when trends change, entire production crews change.

Another problem I have noticed is mobility, both geographic and career. When doing interactive production, the only real places to advance to are either creative direction or project management. Creative directors are almost invariably pulled from the traditional media (yep, even to work on web stuff), and assistant project managers are hired straight out of college and groomed to move up.

Geographically, your major cities are very incestuous in this industry. Everybody knows everybody else. After 3 or 4 layoffs, you will have likely worked or freelanced at most of the major shops in town. This is an advantage, but it also locks you into that city. If you want to move cross country, you lose most of those contacts and place yourself in a new city which is just as incestuous - where everybody knows everybody else...except you.

Just some things to consider. You know, you just don't see that many 40 year old web designers.
posted by kaseijin at 4:52 PM on August 1, 2005

Thanks for both of your comments.

kaseijin Your comments have hit upon one of my biggest worries. The program I'm interested in covers a lot of ground. I'm hoping that if I do run into the problems you've outlined that I'll be able to at least use one of the skills I'll be learning and parlay it into something else.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:14 AM on August 2, 2005

Constant Reader, I am an instructor in the IMD program at one of the Institutes; you are welcome to contact me.
posted by litlnemo at 2:14 PM on August 2, 2005

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