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Help - Online Graphic Design Degree?

Hello, I am currently exploring my options as I have decided that I want to pursue a career in graphic design. I would really appreciate any advice/guidance on the best steps forward for me. My career aim is to become an editorial book cover designer for a publishing house.

My educational background is not art based at all. I have 10 GCSE’s between grades 6-9. I achieved a grade 6 in GCSE Art and Design. I also achieved 45 distinctions in an access to HE diploma in Law and Business.

I know universities need to see a portfolio in my application. I do not have a portfolio however I do have some art pieces from my GCSE art work and recent pieces.

I’m currently torn between doing a foundation diploma or going straight to uni. Ideally I would love to start uni in September as I don’t want to wait another year but I know I have missed the UCAS deadline and I’m not sure if my portfolio is good enough.

I am seriously considering a distance learning degree in Graphic Design as it would really suit my current situation. I have my doubts about this as there are not many reviews online and I’m not sure if I would get enough support for this type of course online. I would really love to hear anyones thoughts/ experiences.

I have found two courses: one at Arden University and one at the Open College of the Arts (awarded by the Open University).

Has anyone had any experiences with these university? I was also wondering whether the ranking of the university is important to employers for Graphic Design?

Thank you
Original post by booklover101
Hello, I am currently exploring my options as I have decided that I want to pursue a career in graphic design. I would really appreciate any advice/guidance on the best steps forward for me. My career aim is to become an editorial book cover designer for a publishing house.

My educational background is not art based at all. I have 10 GCSE’s between grades 6-9. I achieved a grade 6 in GCSE Art and Design. I also achieved 45 distinctions in an access to HE diploma in Law and Business.

I know universities need to see a portfolio in my application. I do not have a portfolio however I do have some art pieces from my GCSE art work and recent pieces.

I’m currently torn between doing a foundation diploma or going straight to uni. Ideally I would love to start uni in September as I don’t want to wait another year but I know I have missed the UCAS deadline and I’m not sure if my portfolio is good enough.

I am seriously considering a distance learning degree in Graphic Design as it would really suit my current situation. I have my doubts about this as there are not many reviews online and I’m not sure if I would get enough support for this type of course online. I would really love to hear anyones thoughts/ experiences.

I have found two courses: one at Arden University and one at the Open College of the Arts (awarded by the Open University).

Has anyone had any experiences with these university? I was also wondering whether the ranking of the university is important to employers for Graphic Design?

Thank you

@booklover101
Hello!

I will be totally honest, graphic design is not my area whatsoever, but I have heard lots of good things about both providers in general.

I studied at Arden University, and did my MSc in Psychology there and had a great time. In terms of service they have the best Virtual Learning Environment I have seen (and I have worked in education for 10 years). Also student support was really helpful, even in lockdown when you can imagine provision was stretched at all Universities. Some people have ideological differences with a 'private' University, but they are held to the same standards as all other UK universities. I went to three different Uni's (MMU, Leeds Beckett, Arden) and was impressed.

If you want an unbiased view of both check out their quality report with the QAA and their Teaching Excellence Framework report (both readily available online).

I do know that for art subjects your portfolio and the networking that you do is essential to go on and do well career wise (I know a lot of people who have studied things like Fine Art, Photography etc)

Marc
Arden University Student Ambassador
Foundation courses are amazing but from what you've said, i would suggest going straight to Uni is fine.

I have some experience with online graphic design degrees. To succeed, you need huge amounts of personal motivation. Most people don't have the drive to do large volumes of work in their own time, with very little guidance and interaction with staff/students. Therefore the average quality of graduates from the courses tends to be pretty low, and drop-our rates are high. Obviously, some students are amazing but most people would learn much more, and finish with a better portfolio if they study on a face to face course. If you tell us where you live, i can suggest some good options.

Lastly, employers don't know anything about (or care) about University rankings. The only thing that matters is you, and your portfolio.
Original post by insidedesigner
Foundation courses are amazing but from what you've said, i would suggest going straight to Uni is fine.

I have some experience with online graphic design degrees. To succeed, you need huge amounts of personal motivation. Most people don't have the drive to do large volumes of work in their own time, with very little guidance and interaction with staff/students. Therefore the average quality of graduates from the courses tends to be pretty low, and drop-our rates are high. Obviously, some students are amazing but most people would learn much more, and finish with a better portfolio if they study on a face to face course. If you tell us where you live, i can suggest some good options.

Lastly, employers don't know anything about (or care) about University rankings. The only thing that matters is you, and your portfolio.


Thank you for your response, it is much appreciated. I live in London so would be looking for a uni course here. I have seen a graphic design course with foundation year with London Met which I’m interested in. The foundation year would be helpful I think to help me firmly decide on what design discipline I want to go into such as interior design and architecture (although I’m very interested in graphic design)

Do you think I have a chance of getting in with a late May/June application? I’m also quite nervous about writing a competitive personal statement since I don’t have much of a design background.

Any insight would be much appreciated.
As i said before, Foundation courses are amazing.

But from what you describe, you already have an idea what you want to do (both in terms of a degree, and a career specialism) so i'd suggest that you don't need to add an extra year to your education. If you don't mind taking that time, then great, but it sounds like you're ready for a degree.

It would be worth going to some degree shows in the next couple of months and have a look at what students from different courses produce.

If you do want to do a foundation year, do the best one you can, rather than one 'attached' to a degree course. The degree at London Met isn't bad but you'd might well be accepted in clearing without a foundation year. A better option would be this, which is really well regarded and fairly close to London Met anyway: https://www.wmcollege.ac.uk/courses/foundation-art-and-design-diploma/
Original post by insidedesigner
As i said before, Foundation courses are amazing.

But from what you describe, you already have an idea what you want to do (both in terms of a degree, and a career specialism) so i'd suggest that you don't need to add an extra year to your education. If you don't mind taking that time, then great, but it sounds like you're ready for a degree.

It would be worth going to some degree shows in the next couple of months and have a look at what students from different courses produce.

If you do want to do a foundation year, do the best one you can, rather than one 'attached' to a degree course. The degree at London Met isn't bad but you'd might well be accepted in clearing without a foundation year. A better option would be this, which is really well regarded and fairly close to London Met anyway: https://www.wmcollege.ac.uk/courses/foundation-art-and-design-diploma/


I think you are right that I am ready for a degree course. I just wasn’t sure what my chances of being accepted straight onto the course are with little design background. I thinks it’s best that I apply to uni and have the foundation diploma at college as a backup option.

Do you have any suggestions on where would be best to apply for graphic design BA in London with a late application? I will definitely apply for London Met as one of my options and I’m also thinking about University of Greenwich.

I do have an interview with City and Islington college this week for the foundation diploma so I’ll see how that goes. Does it matter what college you go to for the foundation diploma?
Original post by booklover101
I think you are right that I am ready for a degree course. I just wasn’t sure what my chances of being accepted straight onto the course are with little design background. I thinks it’s best that I apply to uni and have the foundation diploma at college as a backup option.

Do you have any suggestions on where would be best to apply for graphic design BA in London with a late application? I will definitely apply for London Met as one of my options and I’m also thinking about University of Greenwich.

I do have an interview with City and Islington college this week for the foundation diploma so I’ll see how that goes. Does it matter what college you go to for the foundation diploma?

You'd need a portfolio of design work to get onto any course that's any good. But that could be done in a few weeks if you have the time. Things like a bit of editorial design, a book cover for a well known novel, a logo or a poster. Software isn't important, just use whatever tools you have.

The vast majority of BA GD courses will be in clearing. A lot of them won't be that picky who they let on the course, so even if you have little experience there's still a good chance you can be on a perfectly decent degree course in Sept.

The GD courses at London Met, Greenwich, Ravensbourne, Westminster and LCC are all worth considering. Like i said, go to the shows and see what the students produce, both in terms of quality and style.

All foundation diplomas are good, so i wouldn't worry too much which one.
Original post by insidedesigner
You'd need a portfolio of design work to get onto any course that's any good. But that could be done in a few weeks if you have the time. Things like a bit of editorial design, a book cover for a well known novel, a logo or a poster. Software isn't important, just use whatever tools you have.

The vast majority of BA GD courses will be in clearing. A lot of them won't be that picky who they let on the course, so even if you have little experience there's still a good chance you can be on a perfectly decent degree course in Sept.

The GD courses at London Met, Greenwich, Ravensbourne, Westminster and LCC are all worth considering. Like i said, go to the shows and see what the students produce, both in terms of quality and style.

All foundation diplomas are good, so i wouldn't worry too much which one.


Thanks so much for the advice - I will definitely take it onboard!

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