College vs begin self taught. Do you really need college to be successful?

Many designers and developers despise the word college considering they already have what it takes to succeed in this world of design and development or at least that’s what they believe. Concluding that comes to a main question, do you really need college to be a successful designer or developer?

Being Self Taught

Being self taught use to be something out of the norm but now days it seems as if everyone is teaching themselves somethings. I know many teenagers who taught themselves how to do something whether it be designing websitesSeld Taught , coding websites, or creating web graphics they manage to take the time to learn it. I think it’s great when you’ve learn something but when reality hits you, have to ask yourself one question. Where will it get me? Being a self taught web designer myself i have faced many challenges such as, people not hiring me because i have nothing to show such as a college degree, lack of verbal communication skills , and not enough work experience. I know I am very capable of doing the work, I can type professional but when it comes a time for face to face communication I might sound a bit unprofessional, and no i do not have enough work experience but i am interested in gaining some. So being a self taught web designer or developer may be great because you’ve learn how to design and program website all by yourself(And of course with the help of resources) but when it comes time for you to get a job you will see how far it gets you.

The College

Many designers & developers despise the word college considering they’ve learned nothing from it or feel that they’re wasting money learning something they’ve already learned. I think college is a great place to go even if you’re self taught because web development and design is more then just writing code and designing. College opens up the doors for many individuals and helps you gain the skills you lack in. You might be considered one of the best designers or coder around online but when it comes to applying for a job offline you have nothing to show except what you have online. I have to agree that colleges are a bit behind in the teaching world when it comes to design but it will not hurt to learn something again plus you will receive an easy a. College is also a place to meet new people and designers who share the same interest as you, sure you can meet developers and designers online but we all know it’s nothing like a face to face conversation.

Do you really need college to be successful

The answer to that question is yes and no! Whether you like it or not most of us will have to attend college and get a degree and whatever we love to do. I think college will make you a professional because you’ve took the time to learn a skill on your own and you’re still learning new things. The day you graduate college you are ahead of everyone else. You have your self taught experience and your college experience and to top it off you will have a DEGREE! college degreeThere are some individuals who are smart enough to create a website where they might not need to work but lets face it until that times comes we have to do something for ourselves to get by. So if you’re a designer or developer and know a lot like myself I still recommend going to college because you will meet new friends, learn new things, and best of all get a degree in something you’ve always loved doing. Who knows you might create the next big thing. What do you guys think about college vs being self-taught?

Joe Granados the author

Joe Granados is the owner of WebDevTuts. He is also a web designer & developer who loves to design and develop websites. If you're looking for him you can find him via @webdevtuts
  1. Rick says:

    I think college degree could be helpfull but I don’t think it’s neccesary. I want to pursue my carreer as webdeveloper but im studying Economics and Marketing. But i think my chance to succeed in Web design is pretty high… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marcell says:

      Yes but that is the thing if you could do it without a degree then many others could do it without a degree which would put you into fierce competition with others rather then having one and showing the job you’re worth their money.

    • Federico says:

      You are studying for the most useful graduation related to design, imho.

      Learnign CS and coding by yourself can take months, but knowing people and desire driven choises by yourself can take a life or more ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Anita says:

    Before becoming a designer, I worked at a staffing agency. When you have hundreds applying for the same job, anyone who didn’t have a degree were removed to made the stack smaller. From my own experience, while I had experience in graphic design as a self-taught person, I rarely received replies when I applied for positions. When I got my associates degree, about half would reply. After my BFA, about 99% replied.

  3. I don’t think college is necessary, however, it can give you a big help in learning things faster. E.g. I probably never would’ve learned about gestalt theory/psychology without going to college. Though you can always read books/articles on webdesign to improve your knowledge.

  4. David says:

    I’ve always been self taught, but after going to college I have realised there is always more to learn, a lot more. It’s nice to have a formal education in the field you expect to be working in, and having a qualification is always great.

  5. Froz says:


    This is a question that really has kept me wondering… I guess a degree helps a lot on your situation when you are at start. To get a job as a beginner yeah… but after 2 3 project intense years u’ll see the clients won’t hire you just because of your college degree. If i would be a contractor I would hire designers for what they are worth and their skills in design. I don’t actually care if he doesn’t speak as correctly or professional as an attorney… cause that’s not his job. I guess the basic question here is WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE? If your not an ambition driven person and your happy working in a cubicle at a design firm for 30 years.. yeah u need a degree.. the others… I trust you know already what you wanna do even if u don’t have a degree, but still having succeded at least as one with a degree.


  6. First of all, the word is despise. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Despite has a substantially different meaning and threw me off a little.

    Secondly, we teach public speaking and verbal communications at Toastmasters. It is far more effective if that is the sole benefit you believe you would derive from an academic setting.

    I might be part of a small minority, but I hire web designers and developers, and I really could not care less about formal education as long as the person is otherwise competent. I don’t expect a web designer to be capable of writing ad copy. While that is certainly welcome, few people excel at both. I either hire copywriters to write the actual website content or write it myself.

    Expert public speakers ace interviews and quickly. I take control and ask questions instead of answering things that tend to be resume reviews.

    Make a name for yourself and operate as a business. No one asks the business owner if she has a degree. The expectation is that he hires people where necessary to supplement expertise.

  7. Nicole Bauer says:

    Well, I partly agree with Rick. I think if you’re really good and just have natural talent for design, you don’t necessarily need college to have a great career, but on the other hand what you learn about design in college usually wouldn’t be a part of a self-study. Like all those design basics such as meanings of colors and typgraphy and god knows what you learn there. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve studied Digital Media which did teach me some basic stuff, but nobody can teach you “design” really. I think either you have talent for it or you don’t. BUT without my degree I wouldn’t have gotten the job I have now and I think many companies set value on a college education.

  8. Mahaveer says:

    Hello Friends, I have had my college life, as far the work is concerned we might find college to be an unnecessary expense. But it teaches you more than work. It makes you to mingle with people, work and stay as team, conduct events, keep learning to interact with people.. We never get all these staying away from college… ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Well for beginners – college is compulsory
    I learned a lot of useful skills there. For example how to follow deadlines, work in team, a bit of project management, a lot of theory. All that also helped me learn more about my strong points. For example, I found out that I’m actually better in technical part than the design.
    I’ve read the same arguments in other articles on the same topic, so everything is cool!

  10. Dimead says:

    “I know I am very capable of doing the work, I can type professional but when it comes a time for face to face communication I might sound a bit unprofessional, and no i do not have enough work experience but i am interested in gaining some.”

    That is really all the proof you need that an education would benefit you.

  11. Cole Stan says:

    I am proud to say that I graduated in college. But it doesnโ€™t mean that being a college graduate can automatically change everybodyโ€™s life. For me, you need to be street smart than anything else. When I was in college, I always heard people how they compare schools. Most of them always discussed that being a graduate from a well-known university is an advantage. I know itโ€™s true, but there are successful individuals who had not even experienced to study in college. Real life experiences are the most important lessons for me.

  12. Optymystyc says:

    I am mostly self-taught. But actually, what I’ve learned myself is ultimately what had me make the decision to go to school for it. I find that school is a place where I personally go beyond writing code and am able to challenge myself to do things I don’t usually do. For example, I’ve always thought about creating things using Jquery but had never wanted to risk that on a client being that I’ve never done it. But in class, I can make it one of my assignments and try it out, mess it up, iron it out and perfect with the constructive criticism of my classmates and once I feel confident, offer it as a service on my site and charge for it. I can also (and have also) use my homework assignment in my portfolio.

    I really like this article man. It’s something I think people she really consider. Ultimately, I think the decision to go to school is a good one and if you’re not going to school just network well and teach yourself some business lingo… and utilize the hell out of craigslist. ๐Ÿ™‚

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