A successful future in the media industry (and specifically in graphic design) depends on choosing the right school. As a graduate student in this field, I will be able to give you the best advice you can get regarding this topic.
The first thing to know about schools of this nature is that they are designed with everyone in mind, and that means that people who enter the program may have absolutely no experience. Because of my situation, I was approached for a work arrangement as an important aspect of the confirmation cycle. So in the event that you are self-taught and eager to cement your previously existing information, or if you are a full learner, this is a decent option for you. However, if you have already completed a similar program, you may want to take a new program simply to improve your skills (because the field of new media is always changing). If you can, really, really, it really helps if you take a freehand drawing course before learning how to draw using a computer.
Does the school participate in graphic arts competitions?
Have the students achieved anything of renown in the industry?
Believe me; this goes without saying. The quality of education will be directly related to the instructors. I have never come across an instructor who does not have immense knowledge of the subject. There is a big difference between the subject area and being able to teach (transmit that information, manage the students, answer questions, etc.).
Make sure you 100% enter a program that incorporates work experience. Or at least a practice. It's typically 100 hours of actual work experience, and it's absolutely invaluable to your career.
Study plan and tools
You must assess whether the curriculum is relevant to your field of study. You may want to compare the curricula of different schools to see which one offers the best form of education. As in my case, the administration did something it had never done before: it changed the curriculum in the middle of the program. The reasoning behind this was that the software we were programmed to receive instructions in would soon be discontinued on Mac. It's really worth it if you can preview the installs to find out what tools they are using. Don't just search computers; snoop around and look at the directory of the program and make a note of what programs are installed and if they are the latest versions.
Graphic design is a kind of industry that requires more or less personal contributions in each project. For this reason, you cannot simply be known as the Photoshop guy; it is your responsibility to be well versed in many different programs and techniques to create stunning graphics and illustrations. And that means you will definitely need individualized instruction, or at least the ability to stop the class in case you miss. These programs are very fast, and if you don't make sure you fully understand the concepts in the first semester, you will be hopelessly lost quickly.
Accreditation means that the school has passed certain standards of educational quality. If you can, ask for literally a minute of lead department time and get a list of companies where students have been hired.
Full graphic design education can cost between 13,000 and 16,000 pounds for an intensive one-year program (120 credits). The goal here is to find a university, college, or technical institute that is internationally recognized for excellence. Let's face it; Some Universities will look a lot better on your resume than Community College. Three major recognized schools are located in the UK (that are equivalent for graphic designers, web designers, and all new media experts), the Art Institute (with locations around the world), and the some of schools which has highly specialized graphic design programs.
You may want to consider whether the design school you are looking for offers any scholarships. You may also want to know the terms for them. Some schools offer scholarships based on academic performance. Some offer them based on art competitions that they hold regularly. You must qualify for a national student loan either way, and the payment is extremely affordable.
If you have never exhibited at a trade show in the past but would like to give it a spin, then you might want to try a less expensive route by buying graphics for just one booth rather than the entire enchilada.