I'm self taught, and still going after about 10 years - with a few years hiatus. Freelancing now.
I learnt lots through on the job stuff - but it took me a long time to get up to speed on the theory behind why design works - knowledge that every other designer had - and I just made things look nice.
I'm here now, and I'm doing OK - but it would have been a smoother ride, and I believe my career would have progressed much further more quickly with that study behind me.
When asking a question like this on a forum, everyone is just gong to justify and post-rationalise their own circumstances.
Revealing to an employer that you discontinued your studies says much more about your attitude, determination and work ethic. If you want to quit because you see an "easy way out" (being 'self taught'), then you're probably not the right person an employer wants.
Why do you want to be a graphic designer? The last thing the world needs is yet another graphic designer. A graphic designer who feels their opinion means more than any sense of practicality. If you already have an unearned sense of entitlement ("I _DESERVE_ to be a designer NOW!!! because I WANT TO!") then you're definitely not the right person an employer wants.
::When asking a question like this on a forum, everyone is just gong to justify and post-rationalise their own circumstances.::
I'm self taught. I *don't* think it's the best path for *most* who want to be a *good* designer.
I see others giving similar advice that is different to their own circumstances, in this thread and others. I think a little more credit may be due that some of us are able to realise that our own path/experiences may not have been the best road to travel in hindsight. The benefit of hindsight (which in some cases may be of benefit to those just starting out).
Many government and council design jobs rank applicants - so without qualifications it virtually impossible to get a look in - in fact degrees a prerequisites for more jobs than you think these days. one day you might want one of these cushy govt gigs.
and... its a great time to experiment. i still use techniques i learnt at art school to design.
I don't think they're worthless but I don't think (UK fees) that they're worth the cost.
I also think that peoples personal experience in the matter is pretty relevant here as there is a mixture of educational backgrounds behind each one of us and we all have thoughts and experience of how we feel it has affected us.
I know of a lot of people that have gone on to do degrees only to not get into the industry and alternatively self taught and college educated that have gone on to do great things.
I tend to regard design as something that comes more from the kind of person you are rather than how your educated.
I spent 3 years at college where I did learn a lot but I do consider myself self taught.
I didn't do a degree and whilst I'm doing okay for myself I think I missed out on a lot of time to work on projects. University isn't just a place to learn its a place to connect with people who are interested in the same things as you, experiment and have fun.
I think if I could go back I'd probably study at university as I think I'd have more time to pursue self-initiated projects with like minded people. When you're working a design job (real clients are different to projects you do when you study, you'll realise that once you're out here) and working on heavy deadlines it drains your creativity and a lot of the time you just want to come home and relax especially after working long hours rather than having the opportunity to have a bit of freedom, fun and enjoy it.
(Thanks all for your candid words for struggling student/designers, great to hear real life and people stories.)
I hear your pain, my husband is struggling a lot to get a design job with a Degree, awards, good recommendations and a good folio, but we do not loose hope.
The research and direct feedback of creative directors and professionals to us, boils down to one thing: you have to stand out, and a degree helps a lot. It will set you apart from thousands of designers. The market reached its peak a few years ago, and the competition is fierce.
Of course self taught and TAFE are also options, same with 3 months courses… But many creative directors have told me privately that degrees and a good folio (of course) its a decisive factor when you receive 300 applications for a job ( which according to some feedback is the average of applications). Some feedback I got is that "some design schools manufacture designers with great folios, but if a degree holder has a similar one, I will get the one of the degree".
Work very hard and don't lose hope. If you love design keep going and loving each minute. If you don't just do something else, the market is already over saturated and only a few will get a job. Thats the harsh reality of things, and something we are learning the hard way.