So I’ve been rolling yet another potential degree/career path around in my head for a while now. I figured that since I have yet to completely rule it out, maybe it’s time to give it a little bit of examination here at Late for Class. Sound good?
Sweet, let’s do this.
So waaaaay back during my first attempt at college all those many years ago, sometime between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods while dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, I began dabbling in Graphic Design. I primarily did so in the capacity of creating simple posters and playbills for the Theatre department’s stage productions. Turned out I was relatively decent at it, and really enjoyed the process. I even won a little departmental award for one of my posters, and that was super exciting.
Around this time I also began teaching myself basic HTML and goofing around with building basic late 1990s era Geocities-style websites (with an intense focus on making them look as little like basic Geocities style websites as possible). While I wouldn’t say that I ever excelled at it, I did pretty okay for a 17-year-old kid with zero experience or education in this area, particularly during a time when the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon to the average person. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun with it.
Afterwards, while I more or less dropped the web design ambitions, I did continue to play around with Graphic Design as a hobby. I created lots of things for various online communities that I participated in over the years and always received loads of praise for my creations. But now it’s been several years now since I’ve done it just for fun, as I haven’t had home access to any design programs more advanced than MS Paint.
Occasionally I’ve been able to put my under-developed talent in this area to work at some of my jobs, which has always resulted in comments from managers and colleagues such as, “You should be doing this for a living, why didn’t you go to school for this?” To which my default answer was usually, “If I ever get the chance to go back, I most likely will.”
And now here we are.
The Pennsylvania State University offers a completely online Bachelor’s of Design in Digital Multimedia Design. If I were to go the Graphic Design route, I pretty strongly suspect that this would be the degree for me. It’s marketed as “Three colleges, one program.” Unlike a traditional Graphic Design program curriculum, this one interdisciplinary. Meaning in addition to Visuals Arts and Design, it also incorporates coursework from the Communications and Information Technology schools.
To quote the website:
“What You Can Do with a Penn State Education in Digital Multimedia Design? As a graduate of the program, you can use your skills to create, execute, and evaluate communication strategies — making you a valuable asset for businesses, corporations, government, and nonprofit organizations. Career options may include working as a digital designer in brand, motion, and user experience, or as a web developer, art director, public relations specialist, advertising manager, or media relations professional.”
So basically it’s Graphic Design, Public Relations/Advertising, and Web Design all rolled into one degree.
Which sounds fucking PERFECT for me.
…At least in theory. As usual: Concerns! I has them!
- WTF is a “Bachelor of Design?” Yes, I know there are more types of bachelor’s degrees out there other than just BA or BS. But for real, though… Is it just me, or does this one just sound like make-believe bullshit? And will a prospective employer feel the same, and not take it seriously? (Though I would hope the fact that it’s from a great school like Penn State would counter some of that.)
- Is an interdisciplinary degree really such a good choice? I mean, on the surface it’s like “Sweet, I can be educated in lots of things that I enjoy and am good at, which will hopefully open more professional doors for me!” But in reality, will I just end up-with half-assed educations in three topics, but be a master of none of them?
- I fear that the degree name itself, Digital Multimedia Design, on my resume will lend itself to “Oh, she’s a graphic/web designer? Why the fuck is she applying for this public relations/copywriting/etc job?” types of situations.
- From what I understand, the world basically now has more graphic designers than it has good jobs to offer them. Obviously, that’s a big concern. Billie gotsa get PAID. Graphic and/or Web Design is the closest I could ever get to having a STEM career, and they say that’s where the money is. But if there’s so many candidates and not enough jobs for them all, then I might as well just major in Liberal Arts or Alligator Wrestling or Underwater Basketweaving.
- Speaking of paid: Penn State is significantly more expensive than Southern New Hampshire University, which is currently my top choice for their online Communications/Professional Writing degree program. Over an estimated 3-ish years (hopefully less), we’re talking $19,800 versus $33,600. However, with that pricetag I get a school with a much higher level of recognition and respect. But is it worth that additional $14,000 or so, particularly given my advanced age? Do I really want to still be paying on student loan debts from my bed at the nursing home?
- I can’t help but notice that the curriculum involves a lot of group projects and collaborative assignments. And there’s that whole problem with… Well. You know. I kinda don’t much like people, especially working with them, especially where my grades are concerned. Sooooo.