Saturday, 15 May 2010

Off to School...

You won't be writing with crayons, that's for certain.

One of the things we often get asked in AdGrads is what people should do if they want to learn about advertising - should they do an advertising degree, or go to Watford or Falmouth? Or should they go and do a conventional degree?

There's never been one catch all answer - the danger with doing a course which is just dedicated to advertising may mean you lose out on a wider, broader experience, and only be able to 'do' conventional advertising. Also, as the communications world is changing so quickly, it's very hard to suggest a course which is always cutting edge.

By doing a straightforward University degree, it might mean you can think more laterally, and have a broader sense of learning, but isn't that practical when you first start in adland/the workplace.

All of that said - last week, I met a man called Marc Lewis, who is Dean of the School of Communication Arts. The school has been resurrected, and offers an innovative, cutting edge approach to getting people into advertising. It's based on a wiki platform, and is taught by real practioneers in the communications business.

It aims to overcome the barriers to those who'd like a career in the ad business, but find the economic or geographic barriers too high to overcome (after all - not all of us live in the South East, or have wealthy parents who can help out in the first year of trying).

For those of you already in industry who would like to help out - there's also the option to join the school as a Mentor. Follow these links. I'm signing up.

I'll let Marc explain:

How would you design the perfect advertising school?

When the late, great John Gillard established School of Communication Arts in the 1980s, his vision was to provide the antithesis to a university education. (He used to call one such university ‘The Royal College of Hobbies’)

School of Communication Arts reopens this September and is inviting aspiring creatives to apply for the course. The school is unique for several reasons, not least for the fact that it puts such a focus on its students’ careers. The curriculum feels more like an apprenticeship than formal education. Work placements are promised for every student, so long as they pass all units of the curriculum leading up to the work placement. There is even a unit in the curriculum called ‘Getting your first promotion’.

The curriculum is unique because it has been written by the advertising industry, not by academics. This approach guarantees that the next generation of creative talent learn and master the skills that are needed by employers. The school’s principal, Richard Adams, curates the curriculum online using a wiki platform so that anyone connected to the industry can suggest content. The result is a qualification supported by the industry and accredited by University of the Arts London Awarding Body.

Those industry professionals that have helped build the curriculum then go on to deliver it by spending time at the school in the capacity as ‘mentors’. School of Communication Arts has recruited an impressive network of hundreds of mentors, hailing from advertising, film, fashion, music, technology and gaming industries. Up to six mentors hang out in the school every day, so that they can provide advice and support to learners.

There are no classrooms at the school. In fact School of Communication Arts looks more like an advertising agency than a place of study. “People learn better when they apply newly acquired skills and theories to real and relevant problems,” says its Dean, Marc Lewis. “That’s one of the reasons why we get our cohort working on real briefs and winning real pitches in an environment that simulates adlands finest creative departments.”

Predictably, the school prepares its students for creative careers in advertising, either as copywriters or art directors. Quite unpredictably, the school offers a third career choice – ideapreneur. Learners following the ideapreneur pathway receive investment to help start a business whilst at the school and support to help grow it. Advertising agencies stump up the cash, hoping to own a small stake in the next YouTube or Facebook.

If you are looking to kick-start your creative career then apply now to join the school this September.


William said...

This is really interesting post, guys.
I myself chose to take the advertising degree route - literally studied 'Advertising & Brand Management' as a typical 3 year, full-time BA Hons. I couldn't have a picked a more targeted degree (I'm now an Account Manager for a brand consultancy).

I chose this purely based on the course content (a genuine creative/strategic integration), the experience of the tutors, and the emphasis placed on gaining industry work experience.

But that said, I don't think I'd be worse off had I studied English Language or Psychology. Ultimately, university is where you will spend some of the best days of your life. You have to make a decision that's right for you, rather than constantly trying to please a potential employer.

If you're clearly passionate and committed about communications, employers will always see that.

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big suit said...

Congrats! well i can barely said that school is real funny!