KOKOMO, Ind. – One school district gained a competitive edge in recruiting, while future graphic designers learned real-world skills creating advertising materials for them.
Students in the Indiana University Kokomo Design Center worked with leaders from Carroll Consolidated School Corporation, Flora, to produce professional quality videos, a brochure, a postcard, and a fact sheet that can be used to attract new families to the district — with no charge for their services.
Senior Nick Cottongim, one of the project’s leaders, designed the printed products and two videos, while Jared Stanley created three new logos.
“This is as real world as you can get, short of actually being employed by an agency,” he said, adding that the logos are a prominent part of his portfolio. “It’s always impressive to say I created logos for a school district, and they are being used, rather than just being something I made for a class, and it earned a good grade.
“It showed me what a project looks like, from beginning to end, and what goes into producing high-quality materials I could be proud to deliver.”
Stanley, from Hartford City, appreciated the opportunity to work with a real client, to make a product with a purpose. The school had a wide variety of logos in use, and he took the best elements from each to create one for the elementary school, one for the junior-senior high school, and one for the corporation.
Cottongim hadn’t created any projects to be professionally printed before, and said it was satisfying to hold the completed materials in his hands.
“It was my first project printed with nice paper. It wasn’t something I printed off a computer,” he said. “It was neat to have a final copy, and see everything was right.”
Working for real clients inspires students to create the best materials possible, according to Michael Koerner, assistant professor of new media, who leads the center.
“This is not hypothetical,” he said. “Your decisions and your work affect not only how you do in the class, but the reputation of the Design Center, and especially the reputation of the organization you are trying to support.”
Having professional marketing materials is crucially important to schools, he added, because parents can enroll their children in any school district, not based on where they live. With tight budgets, it can be hard for districts to afford these services.
“They can no longer take for granted that families within their district will enroll their children,” he said. “The Design Center acted as an advertising agency to create materials that showcase Carroll’s identity, and the opportunities that await prospective students there.”
The students learned how to listen to clients to assess their needs, create samples based on those needs, accept feedback and make revisions, and meet deadlines, Koerner said. They also established themselves as the experts in design, and assessed the best way to communicate with their customers.
“These are all skills they can transfer into a future career, not just on a school project,” he said.
Since the Design Center opened five years ago, students have completed projects for 26 non-profit organizations and small businesses.
Koerner is now recruiting potential clients for the fall semester. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.