Good schools for Web Design/Development?

Im in a local Technical College here in Atlanta getting a 2 year degree in “Web Design” - I havent learned a single thing and went into this with a pretty broad and good understand and abilities to do many things.

1 year into this, I havent learned a thing. I even noticed, the practices and these books are just outdated.

I plan on finishing the degree (1 more year) but I want something more beyond this. Thats where Im stuck.

I dont know what kind of degree to get next. A 2 year? A 4 year? What are some good colleges with GREAT web design/development programs? (anywhere in the US, no for-profit crap either!) Should I get a degree in computer science? What should I go for next!

I know I want to do Web Design and/or Development for a career. I love designing pages and doing front-end - or doing the backend and getting my hands dirty developing. Either or!

Either a Computer Science or Graphic Design degree based on the side of the industry you would like to focus or enjoy. Web degrees are pretty much worthless and most people think they are a joke. That isn’t to say people who have that don’t know anything, just that the idea in general is a joke because learning one way of doing something without theory is not very future proof. Considering how much the industry changes and new technologies are introduced its important to be able to pick up new things quickly and learning theory will aid that ability.

I see where your coming from with a lot of this stuff you said, but have to question a few things.

Something like Web Design is where the creativity is up to you. You NEED to learn how to do it, how to construct a basic page, write some functionality, etc. I see it more as a framework, and then your on your own. Creativity really cant be taught. You either have a keen sense for being creative or are better at following directions. The theory of web design is THERE in this program, I think it just takes a person who is actually interested in Web Design to unlock it.

Ive noticed so many jobs for web design at MAJOR companies ask for a BA in CS OR experience. On the flip I have seen many Web Firms and design companies just require a portfolio. Also, I have seen companies that just require a portfolio.

I personally go out on my own and buy books on new languages and techniques every month. Thats my theory and I have the ability to adapt on my own.

Just my 2 cents.

I know im going to finish this course now, it would be pointless not too. But what would you suggest I do after? And whats a GOOD school. Money isnt an issue.

Finish school, find a job because in many cases experience can trump all. I graduated with a Graphic Design BFA and have been working as a programmer for the last 3 years. Learned just about everything I know from books and past jobs. Yet, haven’t had any trouble finding jobs and make pretty good pay at this point and I’m pretty young. So yes there are many ways to go. The one thing the degree will probably give you is more opportunities and chance for advancement. Then again all rules are waiting to be broken.

Ive been looking for internships and I see a ton on CL from here in Atlanta (I see your from GA too) My idea was if I can find a web design job by the time I finish school next year I’ll roll with that. If I don’t, then I’ll go for another degree. I was thinking possibly just a CS associates.

My main problem is I’m 20 (almost 21) and wont finish school until I’m 22. I don’t want to go for a 4 year after this, I’ll be 26 by the time I’m out. My ideal position is to be in a job by 22/23 years old.

Thanks for the help so far oddz

In the UK we have what are called “Conversion Masters”. They are Masters degrees that last for a year and teach the fundamentals of a subject in its entirety. For example, a MSc in Computer Science (Conversion) will teach you the important parts of a three year CS degree. A lot of top universities in this country do these degrees and although they usually ask for a non-IT degree they’d probably take you with a Web Design degree with at least a 2:1.

Both web design and development are specific industries and both have a lot of competition. You can be a good web designer essentially just being a good graphic designer, and learning the nuances of designing for a digital web medium. Web designer/developer degrees tend to paint you in a corner and offer less versatility for your career path.

The problem I have with many of these web-related programs is that they are treated as entirely new things, detaching themselves from the roots of disciplines that made these industries possible.

I would have no problem with web design/development degrees if the schools acknowledge that they are basically an extension of more mature art fields, applied to a new medium. That said, I’d rather take an art program that teaches mainly graphic design with special interest classes on web design. Or if you’re wanting to dive deep into programming, a computer science program with some classes that teach you how to build a web application, applying the theory learned in CS. I took a introductory CS course that used HTML and Javascript, not any compiled language. This was to ignore the overhead that comes with setting up development environments and just get straight to the problem-solving part of programming.

I don’t think a uni degree in web design or related subjects will be enough to start a career in web design. It won’t hurt either, of course. But as you said, it won’t be up to date and it won’t cover really practical stuff. However, learning theoretical approaches to problems in general (with a bias towards web stuff) will be helpful in general. And the earned degree will communicate that you have a certain knowledge and educational level.

But to start a real live career you will need to learn skills. And read about current developments, follow blogs, forums, etc. But the most important thing for being an allround web designer is to learn not only about the technical and visual aspects of creating websites, but also about marketing, SEO, business aspects, and last but certainly not least: copy writing. These things you read about you’ll need to practice in real live. Just start creating sites, even it’s for family, relations, friends, charity. Don’t make them just for yourself, becasue then you won’t have a proper client experience, which is essential in your learning path. You’ll find that working with actual clients can be very frustrating at times, and also very rewarding. It will push your skills in unexpected directions, and teach you how to deal with “real”, professional level clients later on.

I have a masters degree in linguistics and mass communication (1993), and after working for several employers in editorial functions, I started my web design company in 2004, without professional skills. I created simple sites for myself (affiliate stuff) and relations. For peanuts or free, just to build a portfolio and learn real live skills. Until 2006 I did’t make anough money to live from, but luckily I had some savings to live from. From 2004 I do earn enough to live from, and it increased every year. My skills and knowledge in ALL aspects of web design are pretty pro level now, although I learn new stuff almost daily. That’s what so cool about this line of business.

Altough I do pretty well, I enrolled in an online web design course a few weeks ago, because I felt that web design is more and more about aiming for commercial goals, and less about creating pretty looking sites only. The commercial aspects tend to become the most important aspect clients are looking for. And of course they must be. Having a website as some kind of online brochure is not enough anymore. I feel that my knowledge of creating sites that strive for maximizing conversion is not enough, compared to my technical and visual skills. The course I’m taking now teaches me a lot of things I already know and practice (it is aimed at dedicated beginners), but has a heavy focus on conversion and commercial aspects, and actually it’s opening my eyes all the time. It’s a very modern course, using many videos and online seminars, along with written stuff and other sources. I’m not sure if I am allowed to tell the name of the course, as the forum rules seem to forbid that. But Google for “online web design course” and you’ll probably find it. As it’s a very practical, up-to-date course, it may be a good addition to the uni course you’re taking. Well, enough about this.

I’m sure there are also other ways to get up-to-date practical pro level skills, so I hope you succeed in finding something you like. There are of course also tons of free materials out there on the web for you to use! Your uni degree will provide ease of mind for clients or employers that are looking for formal education backgrounds, and your practical hands-on skills and knowledge will cater for those who are looking for real world experience and portfolios.