The Future of Design Education is Looking Good


january 26, 2016 – By Edgar Ortiz


I was recently invited to speak to two of Cedar Ridge High School’s graphic design classes about my experiences as a designer so far. During my visit I was surprised to see how advanced the classes are compared to the design education I received in high school. Just the fact that I was visiting them already hinted at this, since my highschool never had a designer of any kind talk to the students.

One of the topics their teacher asked I touch was the importance of creating a personal brand, since that’s the next project one of the classes would be working on. The other class I spoke to was already working on a personal portfolio when I walked in.

Having students learn and practice these type of projects so early in their lives can potentially give them a big advantage over other students who didn’t practice or even think about these things until college (like I and many of my peers did). Learning the basics that early makes it possible for the students to focus their college years on strengthening their design skills.

I also talked to them about the importance of presentation, something that the class had struggled on in last year’s regional design competition, according to Elise, their teacher. I didn’t even know that some high schools had these kinds of competitions. Elise told me that in the previous year three teams from the school made it far in the competition. One was their graphic design team, and I believe the other two were the web design and architectural design teams. These kinds of competitions allow the students to experience getting critiqued and competing with other quality designers at a very young age (I didn’t experience my first critique until the first week of college).

Cedar Ridge students are also getting their fair share of software knowledge, with many of them graduating high school certified in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and other programs.

The school’s program isn’t just strong for graphic designers. Elise shared with me that the new building that’s being built next to the school is going to be a high school specifically for nursing students, so that students interested in nursing can receive schooling more specific to their educational needs, and allowing them to leave high school already certified in certain things needed for their field. The school district is planning on doing the same for other fields in the near future. It’s almost looks like entering college four years early.

I later found out that other high schools, including the one I attended, are also starting to change their programs in this direction. It’s refreshing to know that high school graphic design classes will now be more than sitting in front of an Illustrator or Photoshop workbook for an hour. It makes me excited to see what these students will have to offer as they grow older, and it inspires me to continue improving, knowing that these students will soon be working professionals in the same field as mine.

A big thanks to Elise Arellano and Kelly for giving me the opportunity to speak to their students. Great job Cedar Ridge High.


  Back to Top