PART III: EPISODE TWO
The things they don’t teach you in (design/art) school
In this episode of my article series on the value of design education, it is my pleasure to present my conversations with three outstanding designers:
Rick Veronese, product UX/UI designer, Italy native, until recently based in the UK. Rick works with startup companies within the fintech domain, he is an entrepreneur with a focus on business strategy, user research and experience design.
Jonas Devacht is an illustrator with a distinct style and a background in web design/programming. He is based in Belgium, currently freelancing.
Stephanie Müller is a graphic designer and a visual researcher, based in Germany. She is currently teaching graphic design to Bachelor students at DHBW Ravensburg (Ravensburg University of Cooperative Education).
Special thanks to Stephanie for going the extra mile in sharing her knowledge and providing a fresh point of view on teaching design. Happy reading!
*this content is published with the prior knowledge and approval of the authors.
Rick, you are a self-taught designer, how did you start doing design and why did you choose not to go into formal education for it?
R: When you say self-taught, it means having the discipline to go for the information that’s out there, take what’s valuable out of it and really try to understand if it fits for you, do it long enough to understand that. I don’t really believe in formal education per se, it’s just a concept really, because nothing that I studied back in school proved to be useful for my career.
On the other side, say moving countries, or going for a little bit of a struggle to find jobs, learn a new language, creatively trying to learn new things, that’s what actually brought me to design in a way. So I don’t believe in formal education for it, because my personal experience is that you don’t need it. But it might be the path that is necessary for someone else. But I do feel like actual experience, real-life experience is way more important than anything that you can learn in books.
On that note, what are the most valuable skills you gained out of your work practice? You mentioned soft skills, probably that’s part of it but is there anything else that the work experience gave you?
R: Honestly, it always circles back to that. I can’t really think of anything else apart from life experience, really. There’s not enough emphasis I think on communication, say, or getting to understand what other people are saying, and really trying to have a good conversation, listen to the other person, being able to debate. That’s pretty much my perspective, I am actually quite passionate about improving your soft skills before you improve your hard skills.
Work on your emotional intelligence is much better, work on your resilience, work on your communication, all of those things actually will get you way farther than any kind of degree, any piece of paper. This might not be the way to get into a company, but then when you are there and you don’t have any real-life experience, you are going to be anxious, you won’t be able to deliver on time, for example or you can’t really handle stakeholders to get more specific or talk to people or present your work.
Some of it, you might do at university but that’s with your people so it’s kind of a safe environment. You don’t need a safe environment, you need something that’s not safe so you can learn more and expose yourself, and maybe go for some struggle eventually but that’s the best way to grow really. Refining those skills was what made a difference because when I got into that situation, I managed to understand that I should be organised and talk to people and be able to do it correctly, otherwise, I’m not going to get what I need to get out of it. So going through those kinds of struggles in a way was what helped the most.
On the topic of soft versus hard skills, how critical is talent to becoming a good designer?
R: There is some component, there’s some talent in that but it doesn’t have to be design necessarily. Back to what I said, if you’re good at conversing with people, expressing yourself and being able to articulate yourself, then your design skills, hard skills as in your prototyping skills, for example, can be pretty average, but if you’re able to express what you are trying to put on paper or on a screen well, then it doesn’t matter how it looks, unless you are actually going into the visual side of things, but even there, it’s really trying to communicate what you are trying to do well enough for people to understand. That’s the first that comes to mind, communication is the biggest thing. There are also many different factors, obviously; build of confidence, going into an interview or anything like that, to be honest.
Right now you’re doing freelance, aren’t you?
R: Yes, I’ve recently transitioned back into freelance, because to be honest, I feel like I’m an entrepreneur at heart, I need to do things for myself and also, I stayed in companies for long enough. I found myself stuck in a way where I wasn’t really liking the job anymore and I knew it wasn’t the job, it wasn’t the company either, just the repetitiveness of everyday tasks and sometimes it gets a little boring. Unless you’re able to spice things up, maybe it’s just another job and I don’t want it to be like that because I created this job for myself so I want to do it on my own terms. So if that means struggling a little bit to find clients, it’s fine.
Do you have a preferred industry to work with or it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy the project?
R: As long as I’m sure I’m making an impact with what I’m working with, it’s fine. I tend to not do anything like say, gambling or anything that doesn’t sit well with my values, because there are ways obviously to do design that’s really persuasive and gets people addicted, I don’t want to do that. But industry-wise, it doesn’t really matter. What I’m interested in then translates into the kind of people I work with, for example I’m working on a project for a cyber security app that’s supposed to maintain everything really secure and keep your data safe and things like that by actually deploying a virtual machine on your phone so you can have two phones in one in a way if you enter the app. It’s like algorithms and things like that. That’s a different way to approach it, for me, it’s like “Okay, I’m interested in this because of “Can I actually make an impact with my ethics and work on something that sits well with my values”? That’s really how I’ve done my best work so far, that’s another answer to why I went freelancing, I can pick and choose what I’m working on.
I want to ask you about formal education again, the disbelief that you have for it, does it come from other people talking to you about it, where does it come from?
R: How do you mean, you think I’m being skewed to not having a formal education?
Yes, in the sense that most people would assume that they need formal education to land a job or master a specific body of knowledge, for example.
R: My first client, when I first started doing web design, gave me that “aha” moment where I understood “Ok, if I’m being paid for this and I learned this online, I can do anything”. And that gave me the confidence to then go out and try to look for another client and then eventually I said “If I up-skill enough to be able to show some kind of different work from what I’m doing now, web design, then there’s no way that anyone can stop me from finding a job in a company”. All I need really is to get in front of that person, get in front of the Hiring Manager or the Head of Design and just talk to them and say “Look, I can do this, I don’t need a degree, there’s a line of work that I’ve just shown you”.
So I think having that transition from freelance to full-time work actually gave me a lot of confidence that I don’t need an education. Also, one of the biggest ones was, if a company needs me to have a piece of paper, a qualification, in order to hire me, I don’t want to work for them.
Jonas, I’d like to start off by asking you why you chose illustration as a career path?
J: To be honest, I didn’t follow an illustration degree, so I’m not educated in the illustration field but I’m actually educated in the web design and web development fields.
I started designing in my spare time when I was 14–15 years old. I did it as a hobby and I experimented with things like combining photos, doing typography, doing a bit of web design, I did all kinds of different things, I even tried out 3D design. I did that when I was 15 until 18 so when I was 18, I needed to choose what course I wanted to follow in university. At the time, in college I followed a course in computer science, coding and hardware and I was designing on the side as a hobby after school. When looking, I found this university program where you learn how to design websites and how to develop code for it, all in one course. So that for me was the ideal thing to happen because it had the knowledge I had from school and then combined with my hobby.
It was a three-year programme and during those three years, I noticed that I loved design more than developing. So what ended up happening was I made these super crazy websites, like I put all the effort into designing and then the last week, for instance, before the deadline I started programming them because I wanted to have a really good design. I was trying to figure out what would be a cool and a unique way to make websites that were never seen before.
I noticed a lot of people in my course were doing photos and graphics, sort of typography and stuff but there was no one illustrating. I wanted to do something unique that no one else is capable of doing so I started making these illustrated websites and I did that for a bit because it was unique in a way.
Halfway through the three-year course, I actually realised that I really liked illustrating so from then on, I started focusing on doing illustrations. In the last year of university we needed to do an internship to graduate; in Belgium, that is required, so I ended up joining an illustration studio instead of doing a web design internship.
I already knew at the time I wanted to be an illustrator so I figured why should I do a web design internship while probably I’m not going to do web design anyway? So I just went and did an illustration internship and from that experience in the field, it really proved me and showed me this is the thing I wanted to do.
That’s fascinating. What skills did you gain out of your academic training that you found beneficial after you graduated?
J: Formal education taught me how to work, the courses I did were very intense, I worked every day of the week probably 12 hours a day, it was very intense, it showed me the work ethic I would need to work in the field. There are so many assignments you need to get done but you don’t have a lot of time to do them or to focus on one. It’s so much work and that really taught me to have this work ethic instead of fooling around. And also, next to learning how to work, it taught me how to collaborate with people as well, as we did group projects in school, as well.
In terms of skills, I’m an illustrator but with a web design background, so web design really taught me about layout and colour. All that knowledge I still apply to the illustration because you may see it as a drawing but behind the screen there is a lot of composition and lay-outing involved, as well such as for instance for packaging projects.
What about your work experience, what skills did you learn from it that you couldn’t get out of your academic training?
J: Working in the field really showed me how much you actually learn, because I was three months in ILoveDust for my internship and in those three months I learned so much stuff. There is so much to learn in the field, whether it’s just having a conversation with people who are better than you or just showing me things I have not seen before or even contact with clients. It’s all stuff you don’t learn at school and you just learn it as you go but that stuff is really valuable.
Do you think that a person needs a degree in order to become a good designer?
J: It’s not required I’d say, I don’t have an illustration degree myself but having one does teach you a couple of things. It does teach you work ethic and I feel maybe if you are learning on your own at home and you don’t have formal education, it might be a bit more difficult and you might not be as motivated as you don’t have to go through all the projects in school. But it’s definitely possible, I know a lot of self-taught artists out there, there are a lot of online learning platforms, as well. For example I’m currently learning anatomy online because, as I don’t have an illustration degree, I’ve never been able to properly draw anatomy, so I’m doing these online courses to get better at it. But it’s probably different for everybody and I also have a sort of ethic, I want to be a very good illustrator so I’d do anything in my possession to achieve that.
Do you think that talent plays a big role in design?
J: I think it’s more important that you have a good work ethic and practice than talent because if you have talent and you don’t put the practice in, there is a certain level to talent but maybe you have less talent and do exercises every day, you learn so much and if someone says I’m talented, I don’t need practice, they usually stay at the same level. Putting in the work is really important.
When I started out in school, I had already a bit of design background as I was doing it as a hobby but I’ve seen some people who’ve come in with no design background at all and in those three years, those people have levelled up massively, I’ve seen it in the work as well, so putting in the work is really important.
What do you think about the future of formal education? Do you think it will still be as important as today, or maybe it will lose its appeal?
J: I think it’s different for everyone, because there are some skills you can learn on your own, for instance drawing and illustrating but I don’t think you can learn how to be a surgeon on your own. Also, some people’s parents really want them to have a degree but that’s maybe a bit old-school as well. I’m not sure, to be honest. For some, it’s important to have a degree because when I applied for my internship, they asked me about my degree so I think in a way it’s still important but in terms of skills, there’s a lot you can learn online.
Stephanie, what is the purpose of academic education, according to you?
S: On the one hand, it’s about being able to have a job so that it’s not only about fancy studies, especially in the Bachelor, it is more applied, that you are able to adapt to a real job situation easily. At least for me that would be very important for a BA in design.
But on the other hand, it’s also really important that you, as a teacher shape the students, that you teach them what kind of a designer they want to become: what are their values, their style, how they approach things, what kind of methods they are using during their creative process, what kind of topics are interesting for them as design students.
For me that’s really important, that you have time to develop your own perspective and to have your own values so you can adapt that as well to a job situation. I see this now with my students, they are really really young, mostly they are 20 and you cannot expect that they are fully developed in their personality or character, of course. Sometimes you are also surprised about what kind of strong statements they have or values already. They are really aware of what’s going on in the world politically or socially.
On the other hand, sometimes you just notice that they have trouble connecting things, getting to the big picture, you have to guide them and help them become the person or the designer they want to be, as well and you have to be aware about their interests and help them to follow their own path.
And then for me, the Master is more about having time for yourself to find out if you either want to go more into research or in a more artistic direction, for example. The Master is much more about developing your own skills in abstract thinking and to settle, focus on what you really want to do and it might not be easy to apply it one to one to a real job but the Bachelor should somehow go along with the industry.
When you applied for your Bachelor, was there ever a period of indecisiveness or hesitation whether you should go for formal education?
S: No, because I did those traineeships and an apprenticeship before in graphic design so I already had the title of being a trained graphic designer but it was more about the handcraft and print process and so on. I was lacking this study experience and I wanted to be around other students that have more motivation to achieve a higher standard of design or a better design output. During my apprenticeship, when we were in class, the level of interest was really diverse, but mostly, people just did it as a job, they were not so passionate about design itself, it was more about running a printing machine than spending hours making a design concept.
I really wanted to be surrounded by people who shared the same interests, I wanted to have that experience of having that safe bubble of the university where you can go and experiment, go a bit crazy, be somehow disconnected from the industry because you also have other projects that would never be realised.
This makes a lot of sense, it’s not only about having the mindset that you need to have a degree because it really depends what exactly your education is and what university you go to but this theoretical knowledge you cannot pick up in the industry, I don’t think, not explicitly at least. If you think about your school years, what was something valuable that you learned at university?
S: To trust my instincts and go for projects that interest and motivate me. Whenever I followed my passion it turned out very well and I was able to go beyond my own expectations. To explore your own creative thoughts is the most valuable thing in the world.
Then if you think about your practical experience, what was something important that you learned because of your professional practice as a designer?
S: As I studied during my Bachelor in a dual system where one semester was based on three months of university (theory) and three months of working for an agency (practice), I didn’t lack experience. The most important thing to learn from practice would maybe be the handling of commercial projects and working for clients that are very demanding.
Do you think that it’s easier to become a designer today that it was say 20 years ago? I feel like there are many people who just decide to go for design, I was one of them actually but I think that not everybody puts this effort to get theoretical knowledge, to really understand the fundamentals of design. Do you think that design has become a trend or you don’t see it like that?
S: It depends. There are also a lot of online courses and a lot of things are entitled with design, for example also service design is more or less a newer branch coming out of design. A lot of things are coming from economics, or from the industry, like design thinking, service design but really classic design education is not trendy. For me it wasn’t, maybe because of the locations I chose, the universities I chose, Basel is very traditional. It was never about trends and we didn’t pick up fancy terms and it wasn’t an education that stayed on the surface.
I think it’s also kind of mean because maybe there are schools where you have to pay a lot or have courses that are really expensive and they are entitled with something about design but the quality is maybe low or medium, because it’s just fancy and people think “Oh, maybe it’s important for my curriculum. It’s good to have a certificate somehow in design”, so they pay for that kind of stuff but in the end maybe they just receive a bad quality education.
I think it’s kind of tricky to pick out the bad guys and say “Oh, are you really able to teach design? Do you have the proper background?”. But if you are new to the industry, you cannot figure out who is a good person for your education in that sense, how should you be able to distinguish good from bad designers. A lot of times people make those courses and they are not even designers themselves, they are just coming from this more economic background and they are talking about design but as soon as they open their presentations, you already notice, or should at least notice there’s something wrong.
You’re talking about non-traditional education, like online teaching or non-university education, right?
S: Yes, because for universities, it’s still strict how you become a teacher or a professor, what you have to achieve before getting such a position. So I think the design universities that are government-owned, at least in Europe, you know that you get a really high quality design education. But there are also private schools, for example in Germany and they offer graphic design education in two years and you pay lots and lots of money but I’ve never seen someone graduating from such a school who in the end becomes really successful.
I think the problem is that traditional universities require these portfolios in the beginning when you apply so they really pick the outstanding talents because the number of students they take in every year is so small because it’s such an expensive study so you have a lot of one-to-one teaching and it’s not like having a huge hall and teaching 500 students at the same time. I think that’s the main problem.
Everyone who’s failing to apply for traditional universities, is tempted towards the online courses or private schools. And that’s a problem again because maybe they are not so talented but they pay for it and in the end they get a certificate, because they paid for it but maybe they are not really able to survive because their skills or talent is just not what will be required on the market. Maybe there are exceptions and there are really good private schools that have high standards, and then it’s not so different from paying study fees for the Royal College of Art in the UK, for example but in general, it really depends, you have to be careful what you choose.
You are currently teaching graphic design to Bachelor students at the university where you received your Bachelor degree. How did you decide to go into teaching?
S: I was always interested in it and I was always mentoring the Bachelor students so since I graduated, every year some students came to ask me for mentoring sessions, my project was more visual research-oriented so every student that was more or less connected to visual research was sent to me.
Then I always had contact with the professors so they knew that I was doing a Master in Basel and we had contact all the time. So they just asked me if I wanted to do a seminar. It was on my to-do list but I didn’t expect that it would happen in 2020 maybe. It’s somehow tricky because I knew I could only get into that teaching experience because I was asked to and the professors knew me already, what kind of person I am, what kind of values I have, what I’m doing, how my work looks because that’s really important.
As the Head of a study programme, you don’t want to hire someone where you have no idea what this person is doing, you have to make sure you’re aligned with that person. If I would be in the position that I really, really want to teach and I have to apply to universities where no one knows me, it’s really tough.
So to do that, you need a designated pedagogical training, to be a teacher, don’t you?
S: You don’t. Either you get hired because people know you, for me it was also challenging because in the beginning I was like “Maybe I’m lacking these pedagogical skills, I’ve never done it”. But I’ve done many mentoring sessions before, I was giving workshops and presentations before, so that’s not a problem, I knew that. I don’t have a problem developing my input material, for example. So that wasn’t the problem.
But I think it would still be nice if there would be training about how to become a design teacher because there is no such training. I don’t know any of my teachers or professors that would go through a study where they learn about these teaching skills in general. It’s really more like you are an expert in a specific field of design maybe and you teach that to the students.
I don’t know if that’s true everywhere but I always thought that in order to teach, especially at university, you need an additional accreditation, a pedagogical education. That’s how it is in Bulgaria at least.
S: No you don’t. Also, if you look at the job description, I looked into quite a lot, they don’t require that. They just require that you either have experience already in teaching or you have a lot of working experience from the industry and that you are able to apply that to the students. At least that was what I found out about requirements, mostly in German speaking countries.
You already spoke a bit about that but do you see any differences in how students absorb the educational material and how they perceive the university environment now that you are teaching them as opposed to when you were a student yourself?
S: That’s kind of hard to tell because I didn’t spend so much time with them in person because we did so much online teaching due to Covid. For example, when we were students, everything was super exciting, we had such high expectations, so every teacher that walked into the room and we didn’t know that person, we had such high expectations. We thought we would learn so great new knowledge and then when the person started teaching, we were sometimes disappointed.
But other times we were blown away by new stuff and we were embracing everything we could get. We had a lot of cool workshops for a couple of days where we learned new skills or new techniques and then I thought now it’s really different because back then we just started, one teacher showed us Pinterest because we didn’t know it, most of us didn’t know there was Pinterest out there and that was like a “wow” moment. — When I was preparing my own material I thought: “Okay, what should I teach them”? — I thought they would be able to have access to all these design articles, Behance, Pinterest, design blogs, I was sure they knew everything.
But it was not like that, even if all those resources are out there and you can access everything more or less for free, you need to know the good resources, where you can get new input and inspirations.
I think it’s hard for students who maybe don’t come from a family where design or art is a topic, it’s hard to find those things on the Internet because it’s so broad. You need to have the input from a teacher who says: “Look at this website, look at this publishing house, go and look for these magazines”.
If you find amazing design projects, you always think “Oh my Goodness, this is so good, I will never achieve that or I’m overwhelmed by the amount of design work that is already out there so how should I be able to add something new”. You also have to teach them how to be critical about that, how they can do research for their projects and add a new perspective to them. I was sure they were already following via Instagram every great designer on the planet, but it’s not like that, they are still very new to that field and they are also naive so you need to guide them towards the good input.
Now that you are teaching, you also have the perspective of a teacher, as well. Do you see any gaps in the education system, something that can be improved in the way teachers approach the curriculum, for example or anything else that needs to be changed?
S: Yes, for example, in that university specifically, we had a conference last year in November where it was about the gender topic and where it can be found in the schedule, how different seminars should pick up that topic and include gender questions or the discussion about equality and diversity, how they can include it in their teaching content. That was really interesting.
I think that’s something every school or every teacher should do, think about the kind of references they present, if they have been critical about the content they choose, is it the right choice of tonality. For example, if you refer to the Bauhaus, then you also need to add the information that they gave women a really hard time and that was not equal and fair. You really need to teach that, as well, rather than just show outstanding design work from the Bauhaus.
Do you think that in the future, formal education will somehow lose its appeal, right now the educational system is in a crisis because of Covid, a lot of universities are not used to teaching online necessarily and I hear people questioning “Okay, what do I get out of an online education if I’m not going to be present there physically”? Do you think that in the future this would probably determine how formal education will be?
S: I don’t know, it’s really specific to countries, and how their teaching models and pricing system are. I would say it becomes more important than ever that you are having the ability to be in a studio, have workshops, work with your hands and be together with people sharing knowledge really actively, like doing sculpting and drawing and lettering by hand and all this kind of things, they will become even more important because now we see what you are lacking if you cannot access a silkscreen workshop, for example.
If you haven’t done silkscreen as a designer, you won’t understand the technique and what it brings to a poster, you won’t understand that fascination if you haven’t done it yourself. This is something that cannot be taught in an online class, there’s no way. I think the traditional universities that can offer those spaces are more valued than ever but I also see that there is also a chance for these schools that really need to pick up the pace and reform their digital content because now we are realising that it’s really nice if the students can access all the information, all the presentations online, they can download the information.
So I think it opens new possibilities and there will be new formats and new platforms where you can choose between being present and being online and maybe there will be a mix of both. I see it as a positive thing, it finally triggered a change and digital transformation at universities is finally pushed forward. I think there are just more possibilities and the future will even be better.
I want to go back to the topic of industry versus academia. You as an artist describe yourself as a critical person who leans towards reflective, more abstract perception on design. But you have also worked on commercial projects in the industry. Do you think that there’s a place in the industry for a person who is more critical about the profession? I also tend to be very critical and reflective, this is one of my challenges going into the profession because I have very strong opinions about how things should be and where the focus should lie.
S: I see totally what you mean and that’s my problem, as well but if you have your values and your standard and you don’t want to go below, it’s just harder to find a job. Because you really need to pick a company or an agency that matches your interests, otherwise, it won’t work out. You may get hired but usually they find out immediately during the interview already that you won’t be the right person.
For example, I had an assessment centre for a huge consulting company and I was asking them as well, “Look, I have concerns because I know you are such a big company, do you really onboard every client or how is your policy about it, do you also pick war-related clients and such?”. And then they told me if I really don’t want to work for a project or a client, I can always say that and it’s fine so no one is forced to do it.
These huge companies are acknowledging that if someone doesn’t want to work for a client or for a specific project, the output that person will create won’t be that good. It makes sense. But I found that really interesting, that would be somehow my insurance why I would work for such a company to at least be able to say in which areas I would prefer to work but then I would also know in case it comes hard-on-hard and if there’s a really tight deadline, maybe I have to work for a client I wouldn’t prefer to work for because it doesn’t go along with my values.
But still, this is something that you just have to make a decision about. You also know you cannot always be in that safe bubble. And where is the boundary? Which company is really pure and virgin, there’s almost none so you just have to create that space for yourself or be able to say “I want to do good, so maybe I have pro-bono projects”, you have to balance it out.
For example, as a freelancer at the moment, I also choose what kind of clients I want to have or not and that’s cool that I can do it but also, if I am financially totally broken, I have to take a client that won’t suit my moral thoughts. It depends how bad it is of course, there are things I would never ever work for but there are always these grey areas and you have to be aware even if you work for the medical field, maybe you have a pharmaceutical client, I mean, they are doing good things but they are also doing bad stuff.
It’s really tough and you should never go into an interview trying to tell the other side that they are doing wrong or what kind of high standards you have. Of course, you should make clear that you have a strong opinion maybe but always put it into perspective. You have to find out for yourself what is important for you.
It can also be the role of the designer to consult a company and be like “Look, if you would change your appearance or if you would communicate differently with the users or make your production line more transparent, you would benefit even more”. I think today companies are really changing and trying to include sustainability and that has to be communicated as well that they are making this transformation and change. As a designer, you can help the client to make that turn and outline the benefits for them.
I completely understand what you mean, it’s like an ideal world that doesn’t exist in reality. Alright, so my last question is: How big a role you think talent plays in design, meaning, does one need to be gifted in order to be a good artist or designer?
S: Talent might not be the right word. For me, it is more about sensitivity. You have to be able to recognise the little details as well as the whole picture.
If you don’t have an eye for aesthetics, proportions and different style choices, you won’t be able to become a good artist or designer. But perception can be trained and you need to be told and you need to practice over and over and over again to come up with good compositions.
You need to learn how to reflect on your own work and give yourself feedback from a meta-level perspective. You have to be open-minded and always willing to learn and to improve.
Coping with real-life, building confidence and refining one’s communication skills might be a much more valuable source of knowledge and growth than a university enrolment.
University is a great way to experiment in a safe space, and try to figure out what drives you forward, find your niche in a way.
Learning outside of school is definitely possible and much more suited for some people, however, you need to be devoted and self-driven, and be able to discern the good content from the bad one.
Teaching has a lot to do with shaping students as individuals, besides providing purely technical knowledge.
There are many online resources and out-of-university teaching alternatives, but you really should spend time on researching how credible and good they really are.
As society evolves, education faces many challenges but change is an opportunity to do things better and improve upon the way traditional education works, and feed in new perspectives and teaching methods.
You have to find the balance between finding a job so that you are able to sustain yourself and aligning that job with your moral values. In real life it’s harder because there are grey areas but you have to be transparent from the start. This also makes for a great way for designers to educate their clients and show them a more ethically sound way of doing business.