The program uses the following student success indicators:
- retention and completion rates
- employment rates
- employer critiques of student performance
- mentor critiques of student performance
- off-campus exhibitions of student work
- industry and media feedback on student performance
- alumni achievement
Retention and Completion Rates
Otis Fashion Design's 4-year graduation rates are higher than average (68%) compared to private 4-year colleges in California. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in a survey of 74 private 4-year colleges in California (including Stanford University and California Institute of Technology), the average 4-year graduation rate for 2012 was 59.9%, and for 2013 was 61.3% (2014 data was not yet available). It is equally important to note that California ranks 4th in private 4-year college completion rates across the U.S.
With evidence-based student learning outcomes that adhere to industry standards, at the completion of the program, students in the Fashion Design Department are able to:
- Adapt their artistic abilities to support their future design careers.
- Develop a systematic, critical approach to problem solving at all levels of the design process.
- Articulate design ideas verbally, visually, and digitally.
- Assess, propose, and apply various techniques related to drafting, draping, and constructing garments.
- Relate the design process to the appropriate manufacturing process.
- Demonstrate professionalism by managing time to meet deadlines with quality work and effectively collaborating in teams.
- Research and relate fashion design to a broader socio economic, historical, and environmental context.
EMPLOYMENT UPON GRADUATION
In a survey of 2014 class graduates, 77% received job offers prior to graduation and within 3 months the remaining 23% were gainfully employed (100%). Please note, the survey included students who were seeking work in the U.S. (not all students are interested in employment or eligible to work in the U.S.) and completed their core coursework with a C or better. This department goal, to develop professional fashion designers who are sought out by the industry, has continued to be achieved in 2015, with 100% of eligible students receiving lucrative job offers as Assistant Designers within 3 months of graduation.
In a climate of concern regarding fashion education leading to professional careers in the industry, this achievement is especially laudable. According to a 2015 study conducted by the Business of Fashion surveying 4,032 fashion design alumni from colleges across the globe, "many disappointed students report that they end up taking jobs outside of fashion, or not finding jobs at all. With BA tuition fees costing an average of $18,000 per year and MA tuition an average of $23,000 per year, students are clearly looking for a better return on this significant investment."
According to the 2015 Fashion Industry Job Market Report, job satisfaction rests largely on salary, professional growth/advancement opportunities, cultural fit, and work/life balance. In reviewing the salary ranges for fashion designers in the report, Otis Fashion graduates enjoy an above average starting salary. They are also among the top five categories of in demand candidates (development, digital/creative, sales, marketing, and e-commerce).
According to the 2015 Salary & Job Market Report on compensation, the average low salary was $39,003 and the average high salary was $45,698 for Design Room Assistants. Average salaries in this report were calculated using major cities across the US and Canada. Starting salaries for Otis graduates, by comparison to these averages are relatively high with 30% making over the average high salary, and are more comparable to the salary range for Associate Designers.
At the close of internships, employers provide valuable feedback to the Interim Chair (as well as directly to the students) about students' performance during the internship. Although this information is used to improve student preparation and the program overall, on the whole the feedback is extremely positive. Below are a few testimonials that were collected for the purposes of program review.
"Overall I found OTIS students to be better prepared, technically advanced, and more qualified than students from other fashion schools. The quality of output from the junior and senior level interns far surpass those of interns we’ve hired from other schools. I wish I could have hired all three (3) of our interns! They were eager to learn and appreciated their time with us. They worked hard and came prepared for a real-life role. Kudos to Rose and the entire staff at OTIS!" - Lisa Hollister, Manager Talent Acquisition, J Brand
"Otis students are consistently pushing the creative envelope and able to add value to our company the moment they join our teams! They have extremely strong illustration and drawing skills. Additionally, the exposure to industry professionals and feedback from their program helps them to have a big picture understanding of the fashion business. Their students have an amazing blend of strong creative skills mixed with a focus on their career in Fashion." - Katie DeWitt, Human Resources, Abercrombie & Fitch
"OTIS students have a passion for design and detail, that is apparent when interviewing and working with the students we select for our internship program. They come prepared to work hard, learn and develop their growing skill sets and leave as better designers." - Angella Lugioyo, Nike SB & Hurley Human Resources
MENTOR CRITIQUES OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Todd Oldham, Dominque Lemieux/Cirque du Soleil, Bob Mackie, are just a few mentors who have repeatedly mentored Otis students because they are continually impressed by the caliber of student work. Todd Olham has said this is the only school he will actually participate in a design project with students due to the quality of student work.
OFF-CAMPUS EXHIBITIONS OF STUDENT WORK
The continued collaboration with Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills displaying Senior work demonstrates the high-quality and desirability of student work.
Additionally, mentors have requested further exhibitions including:
- Multi-stop tour of "Considered Design" sustainability project with Nike/Hurley
- Live performance at Disney Studios, followed by exhibition at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood in conjunction with Monster's University premiere, of Disney Monster's University sustainability project
- Runway show of “bike to train to back again” smart design project featured at MTA’s Union Station Metro Bike Night
INDUSTRY AND MEDIA FEEDBACK
The good reputation of the program continues to solicit informal feedback from industry leaders who frequently laud and reach out to the program. This feedback may come from a call, via email, or walking in the door (because they were in the neighborhood). Moreover, the fashion show and student work receives positive recognition by media outlets proving that it is both relevant and news worthy.
With a jumpstart on internships, relevant preparation, and a robust network, alumni thrive and advance quickly in the industry making their way to positions of leadership or developing their own collections or brands. See Notable Alumni.