So many options exist out there for programs of any kind, and graphic design is no exception. However, if you are going to invest in your future, you should find the college that not only is the right fit but is one with excellent credentials and opportunities to learn and grow. Many times this means real-world experience.
Like most college programs, graphic design does require reading and learning the basics and fundamentals of the area, but taking that education and putting it to real-world use takes that one step further. Having that experience will only help you stand out amongst other candidates vying for the same design position as you.
It starts with the faculty and goes from there. Going to an institution that hires faculty who are experienced and well-known in the field pays off in the end, especially when trying to gain practical knowledge you can actually use in your future position. Not only can you benefit from the knowledge of these professionals but you can also get feedback and critique on your own design portfolio.
Many programs offer externships and internships, as well as fellowships with professionals in the field, as well as field trips to leading design firms where students can see exactly what professionals do in the industry. Internships give students the chance to actually try what they are learning in order to be exposed to what they should expect as well as try out the field in case they do decide this is something they do not wish to pursue.
One of the best ways to evaluate the success of a graphic design program is in the graduates it produces. Do some research and see who has successfully graduated from the institution and where they have gone. Meet professionals in the field before you begin your search to see what schools offer the best hands-on and real-world experience. The alumni are often the best advertisement for what the program has to offer. Do your research, talk to as many professionals as you can, and it will only pay off in the end.