in Graphic Design, Web Design

Why I chose George Brown over OCAD

It was the spring of 2001. I was applying to all sorts of places, and most especially was eager to get into OCAD.

The portfolio reviews were the most important part for one to get accepted and I felt really nervous. Literally all I had were a few sketch books. No big paintings and such, and to be frank I was applying for graphic design not fine arts.

My interview at OCAD consisted of meeting with an instructor and 2 alumni. They flipped through my work without much feedback. The instructor smiled but did not ask many questions.

Finally, they asked if I had any questions for them.

“Just one,” I reply and turned towards the alumni, “Now that you’ve gone through this program, what do you do now?” I think I was hoping for something like, agency or at least freelancing.

“Ooh, uh, we are just helping out around campus.” In other words jobless.

I thanked them all quickly for their time and left feeling a little jaded.

The following week, I went to the George Brown interview and although the school was not as grandiose in size nor reputation, it at least offered a very decent graphic design program.

The instructor who interviewed me was a friendly down to earth person. He seemed really positive about my work and success. My impression of the school was much better because of him.

In the end, I don’t regret my choice at all. I have since let go of 2 OCAD graduates from an agency I worked at because of lack of technical savvy. My education at Brown was really well rounded and I began receiving freelance clients in my second year if college.

Even the one guy in my generation who stayed at the school to help out is now working there teaching and developing the game design program.

Keep in mind this was a decade ago. They may have changed their design program since then.  I just have not had very good confidence in their graduates.

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  1. Hey, thanks for writing this! I’m actually a 2nd year OCAD U student and have been having doubts about the value of my education at that institution since I don’t think I’m getting the skills I need for the money I’m paying. I was thinking of transferring to George Brown, so your insight was quite helpful.

  2. George Brown’s SchooofDesign (if it still exist) was a good school. I graduated with Janis in 2005 and I learned a lot about the design programs. They helped me with being a good and fast designer. However, what I felt they lacked was the “Design Thinking” or “Creative Thinking.” A few classes in GBC touched base on it but I never felt that everyone was encouraged to really think outside of the box. After graduation, I didn’t leave with the confidence in my abilities and I still didn’t know which direction to take.

    In 2009 I decided to go back to school and I was very fortunate to be accepted to York/Sheridan’s Design program. It really help me understand Design Theory and help me set my foundations

    Both schools are amazing at what they provided. But between the two I would suggest York (if you can afford it).

    • George Brown was recently listed in BusinessWeek as the top design school in Canada. The list was international in scope and George Brown was the only Canadian school to make the list.

      My daughter just had her portfolio review today and we are currently (patiently?) waiting to find out if she got in. After reviewing schools, talking to graduates and looking at where she can go once she has a diploma in hand, I am confident that George Brown offers the best chance for a successful and diverse career.

  3. I’m a fourth year student at OCADU studying Graphic Design and i couldn’t disagree more. The thing to know about OCADU is that you must remain self motivated. I find it does a great job at weeding out people who don’t want to be there.

    DON’T GET ME WRONG, me and my fellow students have so many complaints about our teachers, how much our classes technically prepare us… the technical preparation is probably the biggest critique. However, at the end of the day, I’ve met with many other students from other programs at other schools, looked at their work, looked at their conceptualizations and gone “Meh” a lot of what I see is the obvious answer, and very literal.

    If you are motivated, with the internet at your fingertips, you can look up technical tutorials until you’re blue in the face (OCADU also gives great resources for this stuff) but what it’s HARD to find is a teacher who can get you to really think critically about the world around you and search for the BEST answer to a problem, or most interesting, or maybe experiment with something new until you find an equally good answer thats never been done before.

    And don’t get me started on the community, I don’t think there’s any denying that.

    With a little self motivation, in second year I found myself doing summer jobs for a sports media group, and slowly finding clients to work for on the side while I finish up my final year. You get what you give, you know?