So you want to learn design...
But you are unsure if “the rest of them” are any good and it made you look elsewhere, to find something a little bit more affordable, authentic and personal. Let’s take this journey together to find out, for real, if this is for you.
The problem with "bootcamps"
Yes, we look a lot like a bootcamp, but we are not, because we found many problems within the bootcamp ecosystem, which we are here to fix.
Expensive, Really. And Financing Exploitative
The average tuition from any given “bootcamp”, except us, is around or above $7,000. We have even seen ones that are well near $20,000.
Of course, like us, all bootcamps have financing options, which is great. But many have terms that are exploitative. Take a look at the fine print of the financing in some of the programs and we found terms that require students to pay a percentage back of their future salary when they choose the “no upfront tuition” financing. This means you pay back way more if you make more – it is like a punishment to your career achievement. Who deserves that? No one ever.
Have you ever heard of “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is?” “No upfront tuition” is such a “too-good-to-be-true” marketing strategy. Schools need money to operate. Instead of charging an honest and reasonable tuition, this strategy bet on students’ future earning potential and takes a heavy share of it.
That is why in our financing options, we do not offer “0% down”. We do not want to take advantage of students.
"Mentors" May Not Know How To Actually Teach
Many designers who currently work in the industry are very successful and great at their jobs. A lot of them are very passionate about giving back to the community and helping out entry-level designers or aspiring designers. That is where the “mentor” model was born – designers helping designers. It is a smart and economical way for schools to crowdsource the most valuable asset to the masses.
It worked, to some degree. But through years of research and first-hand classroom instruction experience, our team discovered a problem. Some designers who are great at what they do cannot explain concepts well. Some cannot accommodate the different learning styles of students.
As an educational institution, our first and foremost goal is to ensure that students actually learn – not from glossy resumes but from design educators who have demonstrated instructional expertise as well as results from their industry experience.
This is why at Path Unbound, we do not have “mentors”. Instead, we have instructors who have to pass our rigorous teaching tests before joining our team.
Too Quick, Too Little Foundation
What can you learn in 3 months? A lot, but not enough. Imagine trying to play the violin solo at a concert after spending 3 months learning it. Would you be confident? Maybe, but most likely, not. Can the audience tell? You bet. While design is not violin playing, it is similar. In the typical short time span of a “bootcamp”, students can learn a lot, but they will most definitely miss a lot of foundation. Why is that important?
Because when students go out into the “real world” and present their work to companies, clients, hiring managers, recruiters, the ones without solid foundation can be spotted from a mile away. Poor use of color? Spotted within a split of a second. Sloppy alignment? Found right away. Awkward interaction design? Busted.
We do not want students here at Path Unbound to present themselves this way. That’s why we made our programs flexible, but longer. We split each important topic into a complete course that is equivalent to a semester of classes in college. Good things come with time. Quick and dirty will not do the trick in professional design.
Do you ever remember a random person on the streets who look very normal, you know, just like everybody else? Probably not. But do you remember that person with the cool hat or the other person with an abnormally large bag? They will probably be the topic at your dinner table that night.
It’s the same with portfolios. If you use a template or do not push yourself to think outside of the box, you will end up with a cookie-cutter portfolio. Is it fine? Sure, it’s fine, but that’s all. Recruiters and hiring managers may not remember it at all.
Our popular Portfolio School program, which is included for free in School of Design, or can be enrolled separately for students who are not a School of Design students, was created to solve this problem. Instead of rushing students out the door to find jobs like other schools do, we make sure they leave the program with a portfolio that is truly unique and with “wow” factors.
UX Seems To Be All That There Is
UX design seems to be the buzzword in recent years. There is a huge influx of career changes who are eager to join this new and exciting field. All “bootcamps” are dedicated solely to this subset of design. It is indeed a fast-growing industry, but is that all there is?
We at Path Unbound, see it another way. Before UX design, concurrently with UX design, and in the future, after UX design, there have been and will always be other sub sectors of design disciplines that have great demands. A few examples would be visual design, UI design, interaction design, branding, art direction and whatever new names they come up with next. We want to provide students with the tools so that they can pursue a wide variety of design careers, not limited to UX design.
Believe it or not, UX is not everything. We need people who are generalists or specialists with great eyes and ideas for creative projects.
False Job Guarantee
We repeat again – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “Job guarantee” is a classic example. If you haven’t, go check out a few other schools. Almost all of them gave “job guarantees”. We at Path Unbound, noticeably, have none. Is this an oversight? Are we incompetent or not confident about our ability to train students to get great jobs?
Far from it. First of all, nobody and nowhere can guarantee you a job. It is common sense. If they can, they would actually need to be employing you. The reason why “job guarantee” exists is because there are many hidden clauses built into the payback agreement for Income Share Agreement financing, which would disqualify many students from actually using it to not pay back tuition. Second of all, larger schools have the capital to take a few losses if students do not find jobs, while smaller schools cannot. We like to be honest here. No marketing gimmick or false promises. We will do our absolutely best to teach you the best in design and prepare you with career coaching. You will have to work hard to find a job or land a client – without a false promise on our end.
What about college degrees?
Who would hire me without a degree? Well, thankfully a degree is not the norm in the design industry, unlike the medical or law fields. Plus, there are several downsides of colleges.
A college degree costs well over $200,000 if you went to a private university or over $20,000 if you went to a state school.
Many colleges require classes that do not have any practical values, resulting in wasted time, money and energy. Remember those first-year core courses?
Many college curriculum is outdated and too focused on theoretical teachings and not practical doings. Design is a practical field. We cannot afford to be just theoretical.
What about free courses?
You can learn everything on YouTube, and we even had a free course before. So why this program now? What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?
What happened to our free course?
When we first launched, we produced a curated free course that many of our earliest students took advantage of. It was a sensible thing for us to do to give back to the community. However, as we grow, we have to have more resources to serve our students. That’s why we are no longer able to maintain and update the free course, which wasn’t really our creation anyone. It did take a lot of work, but we want something better for our students.
Go check YouTube – there are many wonderful tutorials. Heck, we occasionally link to one or two of them if they are really good, but let’s use the violin example again. You can watch all the violin videos on YouTube and perhaps learn a decent amount, but will you be able to be accepted to be a soloist at the philharmonic? Probably not, unless you are Chopin, Mozart or Beethoven (we know there are many more musical legends). Students who come to Path Unbound are people who want to make design a career, also known as “pro designers”. If you want to go pro, you cannot learn it the amateur way. Feedback is absolutely crucial – and free courses with peer feedback or crowdsourced mentor feedback who may or may not know how to teach will not cut it.
What about other free courses?
What Makes Us Different
Ah, the good old question – why Path Unbound?
WHEN YOU ENROLLED
Receive Customized Step-By-Step Study Plan
When you enroll in School of Design, you will be provided with a customized study plan to keep you on track
• Step by step study plan customized just for you to help you stay on track and adjust as your schedule needs
• You can pause and resume your learning any time. Flexibility is built into School of Design.
• We will send you email reminders to keep you on track. You may opt out if desired.
Learn with Established Instructors Not "Mentors"
Unlike most schools, we only have established instructors who have demonstrated classroom teaching experience in various design topics while also being working industry professionals.
From years of classroom instruction experience and research, we have learned that professionals who can do their job well don’t necessarily teach well. We make sure our students only learn from those who passed our rigorous teaching test before joining our instructional team.
Work with Any Instructors and Switch Any Time
Most schools assign a “mentor” for you. Some mentors may not click with you, which will impact your learning experience. We want to change that. We let you do your own research and make your own selection, and learn from multiple of them. Book sessions with any instructor available.
• You can book sessions with any instructor of your choice. Just browse their calendar availability and book.
• You can stick with one if you really like them or choose to hear feedback from different instructors every session to get the broadest perspectives possible,
• No need to request to switch instructor, but you can inform us if any instructor is not being helpful.