Sep 18, 2007

Fears of Debt Drown Potential Prosperity

These days, it seems like everyone has tens of thousands of dollars in college debt. Not me. I was one of the lucky ones. Yup, mom and dad foot the bill for my entire college tuition. Given, at the time, I didn’t understand the true value of a college tuition because I didn’t have any sort of grasp on what money is worth.

Today, I’m proudly making it on my own. But my talents are not lining up with my current career, and my boss is starting to notice. I’m trying really hard because I want to do a good job, but I guess there are just some things that come natural to certain people that, well, don’t come naturally to me.

I’ve spent my whole post-adolescent life running away from the thought of a career in design or the arts because that was what my parents expected me to do. Now I’m landing a few weekend freelance design jobs here and there and realizing that this design thing is a rather profitable endeavor. Right now I can fake it – ie, futz with CSS and Photoshop and make a site look purty, but I know I’m not designing within the bounds of modern coding standards. Trying to understand Illustrator is almost as difficult as reading Greek. I can’t do either.

What I’d love more than anything is the opportunity to spend a year or two focused on learning the art and craft of web design. I’m not so sure that’s do-able. First off, the amount of masters and certificate programs available for education in web design and back-end coding make my head spin. They’re all pricy, though pricy has a different definition in each program. Regardless of the program I chose, if I chose one, they’ll all put me into debt. And I know education debt is supposedly good debt, but I am so terrified of having negative money that I can’t really consider doing what my heart knows I ought to do.

Meanwhile, I’m slowly but surely driving my co-workers nutso at my current job. Not sure how to solve that problem since unfortunately succeeding at this job requires certain abilities I do not have. So I’m rather confused regarding what to do at this point. Deadlines for graduate school are rolling in, and I can’t figure out if they’re worth it. I do know that when it comes to web design ultimately what matters is a portfolio and skill – and that can all be created and learned without an expensive education. What to do, what to do?



2 comments:

Mya Moola said...

I feel your pain. I would be a much better designer if I could just master Photoshop. But I taught myself Flash and HTML/CSS, and it's kind of made me feel that web design school isn't worth the money. If you're aiming to be a hard core, PHP, CGI, ASP, Perl type coder, then sure, a more technical education experience is necessary.

But if you're at heart a designer, who just wants to learn how to make their stuff come alive and work on the web, it really just takes some dedication, but it can totally be self-taught because the web is an open book,there's no hiding code.

beth said...

My suggestion is to start an "education" account, and start saving money. Check with the local community college/technical school and see if you can take one class per term, which is still expensive, will start you on the right path.

Easier said than done, I know. I should take my own advise. In fact, I think I'll write that into my 2008 financial goals. (Although I'm not in design, I'm following the career of my father and brothers, and I've realized the computer world is not for me. I have the brain function to do it, but I don't enjoy it. Now I need to find what I do enjoy!)

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