Diploma or no diploma? That is the question dominating creative education now. Do you need a degree in arts to make it in the arts? Social media and e-commerce were clearing the path to financial success and cultural relevance for millions of creatives long before coronavirus changed the rules of engagement for most industries, including higher learning. In fact, last year, the United Nations special report identified the pandemic as “the largest disruption of education systems in history.” For the 3.4 million high school graduates in the United States alone, the prospect of continued education is extra daunting in 2021. Rising costs, relocation challenges, and the question of the practical value for college education in many fields contribute to the dilemma.
For those interested in fashion, the virtual alternatives are enticing. The famed Institut Français de la Mode has partnered with FutureLearn to issue micro-credentials. The BoF Education platform offers “bitesize modules” of 2 to 7 minutes each. The well-hyped MasterClass puts you in the front row with the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour. Meanwhile, SkillShare features over a hundred DIY classes from illustration to T-shirt design. You could be learning (about) fashion all day every day. But would you? Should you? The pressure to self-curate educational content and self-regulate progress is too much for many. An accredited program can still provide a safer structured environment with a reliable trajectory of attainable goals.