Education By Design A Dilemma

I have been studying in graphic design both in school and out for the past 8 years. I started at a community college in St. Louis which is where I found my passion for design. After graduating and supporting my wife while she finished her BA we finally moved to Chicago so that I could finish my BA studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There are many choices for private art schools in Chicago no doubt, but none that carry as much prestige as SAIC.

After treading water for a year getting situated in Chicago I finally enrolled in fall of 2007. Initially, I was just planning to finish my BFA in Visual Communication, but one of the reasons this college grabbed my attention was the ability to practically build your own degree out of your combined talents and interests, which of course made sense to me because, how can you teach creativity and engage individuality by providing only one path to enlightenment? “Great!,” I said, “this is going to work out fabulous.”

It didn’t take long to realize that even after all my credits transferred in I was still put in basic level graphic design courses. Essentially just rehashing my previous education at about 10 times the price. This was aggravating to say the least, but I wasn’t going to give up on that alone as I figured it would be a nice ease-in course to get my mind back into visual communication. After I finished that course I began to realize that all the courses were meeting once a week and go from 9am to 4pm. I began to see that there would be no way I could finish this degree in any reasonable amount of time since I had to enroll in at least 2 courses per semester, but in a working life that just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I am a husband and now, father of a beautiful little girl. I work two jobs so that I can provide for my family and also so I can afford to got to school. In order to provide, I have to work a full-time job and most full-time positions that I’ve found require you to have open availability, especially now in this tight economy employers are giving less and less leniency for those who want to attend school for advancement.

So.. I can’t forfeit my job for my education, and you can’t advance in your career without a “good” education. After much gut-wrenching debate I made the decision to leave SAIC and finish my degree at DePaul’s School for New Learning. This particular part of the university was developed for working adults and so far has been a wonderful experience. Granted, this school really doesn’t cater to a creative mind, it does offer me the ability to develop my own learning path on my own time. The unfortunate part of this is that I have removed myself from the hub of artists and designers that collectively help each other by feeding off each others creativity and melding it with their own which in-turn promotes greater internal growth. I do my best to connect with various groups and thanks to the development of the internet I have been able to sustain my growth.

My question here is why are these institutions which are based on the cultivation of creativity catering only to those who can devote their entire life to the school. Is life no longer a factor in the creative world?