As a college educator at The Art Institute of Dallas, a campus of South University, it can often be frustrating working with freshman who have “decorating” on the brain when they start their first year of school. At orientation new students are asked why they chose the career of interior design. Most say they love decorating. But how many interior designers knew exactly what the career of Interior Design involved when they began studying the subject in college? I know I didn’t.
Today’s students are often influenced by what they see on TV. However, what is shown on TV is a watered down version of what an Interior Designer does. It can’t all be shown on TV and really, who wants to watch an interior designer write finish specifications, draft floorplans, or apply building codes for 30 minutes? Yet, often that is a huge part of what we do as interior designers.
Having unrealistic perceptions of their future career is not exclusive to interior design. Across all majors discussion from other instructors concerning career readiness can be heard. That is why I was excited when South University announced the selection for its Quality Enhancement Plan [QEP]: Keeping it Real: Classroom to Career.
As a campus of South University, The Art Institute of Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges [SACSCOC]. As part of that accreditation we are required to develop a QEP.
According to the SACSCOC website: “The QEP describes a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) related to enhancing student learning.” Our plan focuses on integrating career application and professional skills across all programs of study. Specifically, the plan focuses on first year students.
We are trying to give the students a direct link to what is happening in the classroom and how it applies to their career. One way we are doing this is by making student connections with industry leaders including: program advisory committee [PAC] members, potential employers and alumni. Our goal is to have at least one career-focused event per quarter. These events could include panel discussions, field trips, or a guest speaker in the classroom.
Our hope is that because of this program students will: have a higher retention rate, have a higher academic success rate, improve Information Literacy and Critical thinking, and, lastly, Student-Professional engagement will increase.
Are you an Interior Design professional in the Dallas/Ft Worth, Texas area? Would you be interested in speaking to Interior Design freshmen at The Art Institute of Dallas about their future career? If so, contact Program Coordinator Jan Parker or Program Instructor Kellie Wallace at (214) 692-8080.