This is Mary LaPorte. Professor of Graphic Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, my alma matter.
Lately, some have said that design school isn't required to be a designer. I kinda disagree. Mary taught me "Graphic Design 101". Instead of jumping into the latest trend, Mary guided me through the basics of a corporate identity, beginning with positive and negative space, continuity, simultaneous contrast and more. A logo wasn't a logo; it was an identity.
I could be wrong, but I think in that class – our first Graphic Design class – we actually had to engage with a paying client. Wow. You should see the horrible crap I designed for some local chiropractor at age 19.
But this is exactly why a design degree matters. Sure you could sit alone in your apartment and hack your way through your own freelance world, Squarespace, Slack, a stolen copy of Photoshop and all... but there is no surrogate for a professionally trained coach – someone to guide you through the complexities of commercial design.
It's worth noting that Mary is VIP, having taught the likes of Hiroki Asai, Executive Creative Director at Apple, Jennifer Sterling and many more. This is what the pursuit of a design degree can provide you: expertise.
This is Mary LaPorte, my teacher, my friend.