at Columbia University, School of the Arts
Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree in the visual arts?
I was a high school art teacher at the time and felt it would enhance my capabilities as well as increase my earning capacity.
How did you decide that it was the right time for you to pursue one?
I felt that it was better not to put it off. The older you get, the less likely it is that you will have the time and desire to get an additional degree.
What are the most important factors that you considered when evaluating and choosing a graduate program in the visual arts?
The standing of the school in the field you are pursuing, the requirements for the degree, the cost of tuition.
Were there any important qualities about your school which made it stand out more than the others on your list of possibilities?
It has an outstanding reputation for quality.
Given what you now know, what are tips could you provide for other students with regard to choosing and getting accepted into school?
Do your research - look at the catalog, speak to current students and alumni if possible, visit the school if possible, try to decide in advance if you want to attend a particular graduate school and take the appropriate courses required for admission as an undergraduate.
How did you fund your graduate education? How available were scholarships and other forms of financial assistance?
It was funded by my working full time during the day. I also took out loans.
Exactly what is your graduate degree?
An M.A. in Art & Education, which was most applicable to teaching. Since I was attending graduate school part time after work, this degree was easier to earn than an M.F.A. It took me two years to earn going part time.
What advantages have you found in the professional world from having earned your graduate degree?
People that I work with and others that I meet are impressed that I took the extra time and expense to advance my education. It has also raised my confidence level and given me additional experience that has proved useful in the real world.
Tell us about your education at your graduate school. What did you like and dislike about it?
Liked: The professors, guest speakers, and other students who were very diverse (reflecting the population of N.Y.C.). I also liked the historic building that the school was in.
Disliked: It was very difficult to find parking on the Manhattan streets (there was no parking garage).
How much difference does a good teacher make? Tell us about one good and one bad experience that you had.
A good teacher makes all the difference in the world. I had good experiences with teachers who were somewhat flexible with their curriculum, encouraged student participation and feedback, had reasonable expectations, and had good to outstanding personalities. A bad experience was when a teacher had rigid lesson plans, short deadlines, and an uncaring attitude.
Please write three other questions you can think of that would benefit prospective graduate students.
- Would this degree enhance your hire ability for more than one employment opportunity?
- Have you researched the field of study thoroughly and received guidance from others "in the know" (such as mentors, advisors at your undergraduate school, people in the field you hope to enter)?
- Do you enjoy doing what the degree will require?