Capilano University – Buh Bye Business, Hello WWW

A review of the Capilano University – Interactive Design program.
By Stephen G. , graduated in 2008.
Before coming to Capilano University in Vancouver, I looked into the Art Institute to learn about their graphic and web design programs. Judging by their information session visits to my high school, they looked like the ideal candidate for my post secondary education. I made an appointment to take a tour of the campus, but was quite discouraged by their astounding tuition fees.
My next choice was the IDEA program at Capilano. It turned out it wasn’t what I was looking for. The program was a bit too artistic, more for people capable of designing for all different types of capilano university interactive design program reviewmediums.

With no time to waste and feeling the pressure from my parents, I settled for the Business program at Capilano University.

Back To The Drawing Board

After 2 years, I felt unenthusiastic about my studies and contemplated other possible education/career choices. I accidentally came across a hallway booth promoting Capilano’s Interactive Design Program. I chatted with the instructors and what I gathered from them was enough for me to consider looking further into what the program had to offer. I naturally built up the urge to change studies but not before doing some research.

The information session was a bit awkward as I was the only one that showed up; evidence of the small budget the school had to promote the program.

The information session was a bit awkward as I was the only one that showed up; evidence of the small budget the school had to promote the program. Still, what I gathered from it was enough to make me want to transfer.

In previous years of the program, post figures showed a high percentage rate for graduates obtaining jobs after graduating. And best of all, the tuition was reasonably affordable. Seeing that I was already studying at Capilano University, it was an easy choice to make.

To be accepted into the program, I went through an interview process which required a portfolio to demonstrate my skills. Mind you, in my two years of studying Business at Capilano, I didn’t have many opportunities to design. So, I gathered previous work I produced in my graphic design course in high school and hoped for the best.

As for advice, be passionate and genuine about why you want to get into the program. Don’t worry about having a shoddy portfolio, because as long as you have some sort of creative work you should be fine. I passed with flying colors and I can’t even draw if my life depended on it.

The Experience

After a long summer vacation, I was stoked about the program. I had good reason to be because for the last few weeks of the summer, I could play with my new toy – a MacBook Pro, a requirement for the course. Previously, I was a little frustrated with the idea of having to work with a Mac but as time passed, the tables turned. In the first year, students learn why Mac is the preferred medium to work on.

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The program is spread over 2 years. The first year, students learn the tools and skills at a introductory level, which was a little frustrating in the beginning but as we progressed further into the year I found it motivating to learn a little more on my own time to get ahead.

In the second year, the program has a class designed to give students the opportunity to focus on a skill of their choice and demonstrate what they’ve learnt with a final self-study project. It’s a chance for them to develop a niche. Most companies don’t look for grads that are mediocre at everything but good at something particular. Near the end of program after days of no sleep, weeks of stress, and endless amounts of energy drinks, students are off to their six-week work practicums.

The program’s instructors are probably some of the best ones I’ve encountered since studying at Capilano. They’re flexible, easy-going, and fun to be around. The great thing about most of them is they work in the industry and teach part time, giving students an opportunity to learn a little more about the industry.

The environment was something to really appreciate. It was great to be part of a class filled with people that you could be comfortable with so easily and talk to about interaction design. As you progress through the years, you’ll find yourself naturally wanting to read articles, blogs, and tutorials on your free time for self-improvement. This sort of behavior ends up being second nature after you graduate.

The practicum starts in March, lasting 6 weeks, and ending mid-way through April, a week before graduation. The practicum offers plenty of time for the students to take in the experience but also long enough for them to demonstrate their skills for employers to notice.

The one major snag about the program was that there was only one dedicated lab. This meant that classes were divided into two halves for first and second year. Originally, I thought we’d be studying from 9-5, ready to commit myself for the long days ahead. But that wasn’t the case.

The first year we occupied the lab from morning to noon and in second year from noon to the end of the day. I was disappointed with the approach as I would have personally liked to have full day of study. Nonetheless, what does one expect with only one lab?

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The Included Contents

Theory:

  • Database Design
  • Information Architecture Design
  • Rich Media
  • Visual Design
  • Self Marketing and Business Practices
  • Usability Design and Testing

Technical Skills:

  • ActionScript 2
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • MySQL
  • PHP

Tools:

  • Flash
  • Illustrator
  • Photoshop

Expendable Courses:

  • Applied Project Management
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Introduction to E-Learning
  • Quality Assurance
  • Professional Alliance

The Interactive Design program was in its 3rd year when I enrolled and there were still some kinks to it.

Feels Like Beta

The Interactive Design program was in its 3rd year when I enrolled and there were still some kinks to it. From what I gathered, the courses I listed as “expendable” felt ineffective either from the teaching methods or from the sense that these classes could have been studied at home.

Thus, making more room for extended lectures in design and programming. The program also praises having classes led by industry professionals (most hold primary employment outside of school), which is convenient but has failed on a few occasions when teachers have been unprepared, leaving you wishing you had just slept in.

Regardless of those minor kinks, the Interactive Design program has everything you need to get you started with web design/development. The program is nicely stretched out over 2 years to allow adequate time for learning, comprehending, and applying of skills necessary versus that of a shorter program. It’s perfect for those who have never designed or coded before. There’s a little something for everyone and there’s a lot more to gain out of this program but that’s up to you on how hard you want to work.

During my years in the program, it started with 22 students ending with 18 graduating, and continued with over 90% gaining employment within the first month. The practicum was extremely important in gaining hands on experience in the field; however, it hindered the potential for future employers in coming to the grad show because of the high percentage of students receiving contracts post-practicum.

The Interactive Design program almost makes it too easy to get your career started. Thanks to the 6-week practicum, currently a fellow graduate and I, with the addition of a recent ’09 graduate, are working with the same company that hired us for our practicums.

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