With the GCSE results in there is a lot of talk in the media about how students are not doing as well as before. This along with the public debate at the moment going on regarding expensive tuition fees and subsequent debts, it is often worth addressing what role exams play in the road to being a successful designer. Design unlike some other careers relies heavily on you being able to prove yourself, both through your previous work, technical abilities and portfolio. If you want to be a surgeon then you need to learn very specific things, but if you want to be a designer things are a little less black and white.
A formal education at a university can be invaluable but then so to can hands on experience. It really depends on where your strengths lie and how far you want to push yourself. No degree or a ‘bad’ degree can easily be overshadowed by a great portfolio, clear passion and enthusiasm for what you do. It is unarguable that some kind of formal education to learn the foundations of design, layout, typography, subsequent technical or software skills etc is extremely helpful and would put you on a great footing moving forward but this necessarily doesn’t have to come in the form of a three year full time BAhons degree.
Whether choosing to study formally or carve your own path Creative Bloc have posted a very useful article on some practical steps to getting a job at a design agency, these are as applicable to someone with a degree as someone without. Well worth a read.
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