Why did I choose to go to graduate school?
First off, let’s acknowledge that this is a huge decision. For me, and a lot of you, it means mountains of more debt. It also means putting your life on hold for another three years. Part of the reason that I made the decision was that I had already lived out in the “real” world for several years before going back to school and getting my bachelors degree. I was done working retail. I wanted to better my odds of getting a professional job. I recently read an article that broke down why receiving an arts education is actually a good choice financially. The myth of the starving artist is slowly going away. Did you know that the unemployment rate for recipients of a Master of Fine Arts degree is under 5%? It is, and I like those odds.
Another thing that made me decide to go to graduate school was something one of my idols said at a visiting lecture at my undergraduate school, Northern Illinois University. During a Q&A, contemporary figure painter, Zak Smith was asked if he thought graduate school was a good idea. His answer was yes. He stated that the number one reason why artists should go to graduate school is not for the education that you receive in the classroom, but for the fact that for the next 2-3 years you will be surrounded by other artists making work. It’s those connections that make it worth it. This is something that I can vouch for now that I’m in this program at Columbia College Chicago. The cohort system here speaks directly to this idea. While here, you go through the program with the same people and you are constantly supported and challenged by them. This is something that graduate school can give you that is much more difficult to achieve out in the field.
Why did I choose Columbia College Chicago for graduate school?
I chose this program because it offers something that I didn’t see in any of the other places I was looking. An Interdisciplinary program gives me the creative freedom to build my own practice. I didn’t want a traditional art program for my masters. I had already done that with my undergraduate education. Going back to being surrounded by artists, I have found that being in an interdisciplinary program also strengthens this. Here I am not just in a pool of other people pairing and making drawings. I am surrounded by a diverse body of artists. People,with backgrounds in printmaking, drawing, painting, theater, dance, etc.. Every discipline is covered here and this brings such a unique perspective to my practice.
I know it’s a huge decision to make, I made it too. I honestly feel at it was the right one. Graduate school offers an experience that will only enhance your career, especially in the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts program at Columbia College Chicago.