ABOUT VAL

The most important thing to know about me is that I am dedicated to teaching and enrichment of people with creativity and design. From an early age, I've been a coach – camp counselor, Girl Scout leader, nanny – and that lead to a career track as a graphic design professor. My philosophy for life and creativity - getting lost, happy accidents, the art of accidental adventure -  is integrated into why I've become a coach. A desire for deeper impact, deeper meaning, and a deeper connection not only with people, but the natural world, that has instigated me to walk away from a tenured professorship in 2018 (those jobs where people work in one place until retirement, which is not necessarily good). Like many people, I realized I've been in one of those career HOV lanes that has limited exit ramps. I've decided to make my own exit so I could work with more people in a more rewarding way as your creativity coach.

You could spend upwards of $100k or more and 4 years of your life for a college degree for a career whose entry level salary is equal or barely above that yearly fee. In most cases you don't start taking design courses until your second or third year and those courses make up between 10% and 25% of the required credits to graduate. With me as your creativity coach, you get the same quality program but can take those classes at your own pace with potential to complete within a year. I've compressed the 10 required courses that were required at my former institution into a quality 5 comprehensive classes for a fraction of the cost and time commitment.

 

Or, you could teach yourself design tools by watching youtube or signing up for lynda.com or udemy courses. Most people think that the computer tools make you a designer. But what's missing in all of those is a human interaction in the role of mentor and coach giving you quality projects that stretch your creative muscles and are appropriate for portfolio development leading to clients. I am looking for a small group of students of all ages and backgrounds to work with individually each month, who may be able to visit my retreat center for a group workshop offered at various times throughout the year. I'm not guaranteeing you employment, but offering my track record of successful students in rewarding positions working for themselves or others in all facets of the design industry. And I can provide some of those references offline.

 

I am offering you something different. The internet has collapsed the work environment. There are youtube stars who never went to college and making a lot more than $40k a year. There are websites after websites that offer design services for just a few dollars. There are template based programs and the software/hardware is available to everyone. So what makes design a potentially fulfilling and rewarding career choice without a degree to get you in the door? It's about proving your intellectual capacity in how you think because templates and robots cannot do that for you. It's about making interesting connections and learning about all sorts of fascinating subject matter from science to history to psychology and beyond. So how does one live a fulfilling life in this new world? It's about learning how to talk about your work, about separating your solutions from personal choices to practical problem-solving rationale. By being a creative, by being an adventurer and explorer, by understanding the intricacies of the interconnected world from nature to human population and being able to navigate the bumps, bruises, pitstops and detours that life will present along the way you can be nimble and respond in effective and innovative ways.

Please send me a message to schedule a consultation. If you are still thinking about costs, I've outlined some of the possible scenarios on that page. I have a non-educational profile and lots of other juicy information about the the retreat center at Camp Wonder Wander which outlines many of the workshops based off of curriculum you may want to pursue. And if you want to see some of my personal work, visit my site www.valerie-sloan.com

LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU!

- VAL

 

WHY I WALKED AWAY FROM TENURE? Over a 20+ career as a professor, I encountered a higher education and a tenure system that allowed for bullying and harassment to flourish at many insidious levels and I was a target, but so were students. Students were harassed and afraid to speak out. From my 20+ year vantage point, the University has become a system that rewards this behavior and has developed into a top heavy business focused primarily on bringing in clients to keep the doors open. One needs to question how you can get a quality education at the high cost of $20-$40k a year if you are being taught primarily by adjuncts making $2,000-5,000 per course with average enrollment of 20 students over a 15 week time period for approximately 4-6 hrs plus prep and grading a week. In my case, one full time faculty member has no control over 60 majors and several hundred students a semester so students are learning from part-time instruction.

 

WHY YOU DON'T NEED TO PAY HIGH BUCKS FOR A COLLEGE DEGREE IN THE ARTS AND DESIGN FIELDS? 
I urge all parents or those considering higher education to really evaluate the costs, especially for this type of degree. Ask the tough questions about who is really teaching what courses and how much are they not only involved in the program, but consider how much adjuncts are paid per class (approximately $2000 to $5000 depending on the school, the time of year, and how many students are enrolled). Then add up how many courses at that one school and perhaps several others that adjunct needs to teach in order to maintain a very modest living. This goes for graduate level programs too unless you qualify for financial aid or can secure a teaching assistantship the costs for this may not bring as much value in return for the investment as you hope. In those environments, ask how many courses grad students are teaching compared to the full-time tenured faculty.

CONNECTING THE DOTS OVER 20 YEARS - SALARIES ARE THE SAME - COST OF EDUCATION SKYROCKETED.

I have been involved in AIGA, the professional association for design, for 20+ years just as long as I have been working in the education field. This organization has conducted a salary survey practically every year. What I have noticed over the years when sharing this with prospective students and their paretns is that salaries are stagnant and practically the same as they were 20 years ago. Entry level salaries in design range from $35k-55k depending on the area so it could be much less or slightly more. On the higher end, it takes at least 5-7 years before one is at a management level such as art director or possibly 10 years to get to creative director and then potentially taking over as the owner or breaking away and starting a business. Those mid-to-senior level salaries on average range between $65-90k. Now let's factor in the price of a 4-yr degree. Average colleges range in cost from the low end of $15-20k and the high end $40-50k PLUS room and board. Most private colleges and universities require that students live on campus for two years for retention purposes (ie, their budgeting to make sure they have enough enrollment to pay admin, faculty, staff, and operations to keep the doors open). If you were to pay per class depending on the school it ranges between $1000 and $5000 per 3 credit hours or one class. It's typical that you need 120 credits to graduate with a bachelor's degree. So, if one is to pay $40k per year for four years to receive a diploma and pay for all the associated costs of living, they are likely to be starting off making the same or slightly more than they were spending for each of those years. It's also important to consider that in higher education price is like buying a car. There's a retail price and a discounted price. Some students, like those from other countries pay full ride, while most other students receive some sort of discount to attract you to that institution instead of the competition.

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