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Are Web Design Schools Losing Their Magic?

Just a few months ago, 1stwebdesigner released its Flat Design course, teaching web designers the secrets in mastering the beautiful art of flat design.

That got me asking: Now that online education is becoming more and more popular, is it still relevant to go to web design schools these days?

This question is perfectly normal to ask. With the advent of web design blogs that teach beginners and experts alike, some people may feel that going to a web design school might no longer be relevant at all.

Why Go to a Design School?

Going to a design school helps in some degrees and cases. It trains you for the basics of web design. Commonly, design schools teach you some basic knowledge like color theory, basics of typography, composition and basics of design.

student study

Some schools also give you a peek at the basic coding languages like HTML, CSS and PHP. In addition, schools train you to work hard on deadlines. Projects, assignments and term papers condition your mind for the future you will face.

You will learn that this will be a great amount of help for you as you will be dealing with clients. You will learn how to work with tight schedules to a point where you no longer sleep. Somehow, this is foreshadowing to your future fate as a web designer.

One more thing that would make you consider going to a design school are the mentors. Some universities are packed with wonderful professors who do not only teach you but train you as well.

In design schools, you submit projects and professors either critique or appreciate your work. This gives you a lot of leverage because you can readily improve your work without risks of staining your reputation.


Lastly, design schools give you time to tweak and tinker. You may have those designs which may make you hit your face with your palms but those are left at schools. In the course of your stay, you can continually hone your talents and, eventually, become better.

Why Design Schools Are Irrelevant

Online education is now booming. With the Internet becoming a part of daily human activity, pretty much everything can be done online: arranging tasks, ordering food, paying bills and even learning new skills.

  • Diplomas no longer matter

The first reason why going to a web design school might be irrelevant is that diplomas are no longer instant passes for jobs. This goes true despite what most parents say. According to Adecco, a job placement firm, 60% of US college graduates do not find a full-time job in their chosen profession.


What does this mean?

Andrea Campbell, now Art Director of Orange Element in Baltimore, may have summed it all when she said that employment decisions are based on interviews and the applicant’s portfolio, and that’s all of it.

This may well be supported as Janna Haggan, a Toronto-based designer said,

“Despite what your teachers or parents tell you, your diploma won’t necessarily get you a job.  Proving what kind of work you are capable of producing through your portfolio or demonstrating passion and potential to an employer will more likely catch their eye; compared to a student who has more formal education. Having a killer portfolio and personality will land you a job anywhere.”

  • Experience is the best teacher

One more thing that they don’t teach at design school is real-life experience. Most classes would just teach you theories on how to deal with clients and you will never know the works until you get one. Sometimes, as a rookie in the world of design, you will have difficult times adjusting from one client to another.

  • There are alternatives now

Unlike engineering or architecture, the online database for information on web design is very rich. With countless design blogs out there, you will never run out of ways to learn. Nowadays, more and more courses are offered where you can learn things that you’ll never learn (or will take a lot of time to learn) in school. All of that, for a more reasonable price, of course.

  • Web Design is a rat-race

Years ago, when you were at design school, flat design probably hasn’t been born yet. You may have never heard of responsive design, either. You probably adjusted a bit in terms of knowledge and style to fit the trend.

Web design is a fast-paced rat-race. You chase the technology and the trends as it move in a constant speed as you are traveling. You can never keep up. That makes sitting on a classroom irrelevant. Your chosen path is continually expanding and you can’t just sit in a classroom forever.

I am a web design student. Shall I drop out now?

For students, this is a pretty difficult question. Honestly, I would sit in a fence regarding this matter. The answer as to whether you should quit design school totally depends upon you.

There are cases where people who quit school turn out to be successful. Take our founder, Dainis, as a great example. However, this doesn’t work all the time.


For this, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I financially ready to start working?
  • Is my portfolio ready? (or do I even have one?)
  • Am I willing to struggle for long periods?
  • Am I efficient in self-studying?
  • Do I know people that might help me get clients?

You should at least be ready with all of these items before dropping out. But it totally rests upon your hands to steer the wheel.

Alternatives to Design Schools

If you have already quit design school and you want still want to learn, there are great websites that might help you:

My Take

Let me argue that these schools are no longer relevant. With the continuous development and expansion of the uses of Internet, learning new tricks and techniques concerning web design becomes easier, more convenient, and less costly. Imagine this: you can spend thousands of dollars over a four-year education plan that would teach you web design. But then, you can just visit a course, buy it for a hundred dollars or so and learn the same thing for a span of weeks (or even days).

Pondering on this, ask yourself, where would you like to be? In a place where you bury yourself with bills you will pay for in the future? Or in a place where you could learn the same thing in the most comfortable and less costly way possible?


Remember, Web design is a fast-paced race. You will keep on chasing a pot of information that goes constantly increases speed as you run towards it. Will you keep up if you just stay in the four corners of the classroom? Or will you start running?

What are your thoughts? For you, is going to web design schools still relevant? Did you go to one? Let’s discuss.

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