Whether or not going to college is a "waste" of your time ultimately depends on how you'd like to use your talents. If you want to be a freelance artist who gets to pick and choose your assignments, you can mostly exist without having to get a degree. If you want to work for an agency, corporation, or other creative department, many of those places still want to see a college diploma.
Going to college, as has been mentioned before, isn't so much about getting more training as it is about broadening your horizons and showing that you have the discipline and initiative to get that extra bit of paper. College also can do a fantastic job of exposing you to other people and experiences you may not have if you continue to forge your own path.
Another benefit of college classrooms is that you will receive a lot of critiques and peer reviews of your work. An online portfolio is pretty mandatory these days, and most employers will want you to discuss your pieces, workflow, and decision-making process. College helps you adopt the habit of sharing your work and justifying your choices. If you're going to work in a professional environment, you have to distance yourself from your work to the degree that you won't take criticism personally. Obtaining other's insight and different perspectives can be hard to do if you're constantly on your own.
Finally, even if you decide to get a college degree, just remember your learning won't stop when you graduate. If you want to be successful as a digital designer, you will need to stay current. Technology keeps evolving, and you will need to find ways of keeping up with the latest trends and best practices.
I wish you all the best as you continue to explore your options. Good luck in your future endeavors!
Darryl recommends the following next steps:
- Decide if you want to work for yourself (by freelancing) or if you want to get hired by someone else.
- If you want to get hired by someone else, look into additional training or certification programs. These options can include college, workshops, seminars, or online courses.
- If you want to "test the waters" to see if freelancing is a good fit, check out the myriad of sites where you can add your name to the talent pool. Also, put together a small PDF sampling of your work. Ask friends, family, or local businesses if there are any projects available. Any "real world" jobs are going to have a bigger impact than projects where you alone determine the job specs and outcome.