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If the career goal is to be a college ceramics prof which would you suggest?


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#1 potter'smom

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 07:16 PM

Hello again,

I have always been given great feedback here and I would like to thank you all! I have another question to ask of you seasoned artists as I have no art experience and am trying to help my daughter make big decisions about college (she needs to decide by May 1st). D has narrowed her list down from 7 to 2. They are very different schools in very different settings. Interestingly, these are the 2 schools that she did not even want to visit because she did not think they would meet her needs.

Alfred University - They have offered her 2 different portfolio scholarships that make it very affordable for her to attend. She did not initially want to look because of the location and the small size of the school. Once we visited she thought the campus was beautiful and the facilities and class offerings were top notch. She is however concerned about the rigor of the freshman foundations program, and very unhappy about the fact that she will not have the opportunity to take even 1 clay class during that first year (she is a clay freak). D also was unsure if she could be happy for 4 years in such a rural area, and was not sure about the social scene either. That being said, she was ready to commit to go as she thought she would be foolish to pass up such a generous offer from the top ranked ceramics program in the country.


Eckerd College - Then, while on vacation in Florida last week we decided to check out the 1 Liberal Arts college on her list even though she was quite convinced that she wanted a BFA vs a BA. Surprise! She fell in love with the campus setting and told me that she felt as if she could be best friends with any one of the students that we met during our day there (this was the 1st time out of over 20 college visits that she felt so comfortable and connected). The staff was also very helpful. There was a glitch with the scheduling so she was not able to sit in on a clay class, but the department chair spent an hour with us. Then we were told that the Ceramics Professor was coming in on his day off to meet with us too! The Art Department itself is very small and not particularly well well appointed equipment wise, and there is only 1 Ceramics Professor. The school allows for much flexibility and she would be able to take many independent studies to get a higher level of art classes. She would be required to do a Sophomore and Senior Show, but would also have a more well rounded liberal arts education including and extensive international travel/service learning component.

Now she is very torn and stressed to the max! Her heart tells her she would be much happier overall and blossom more as a human @ Eckerd, but her head tells her she would become a better artist @ half the price @ Alfred. She is also unsure how a BA would impact her ability to get into a strong MFA program. The Ceramics Professor is an Alfred Grad and told her he has had many students get into great programs and that he can help her tailor her program to basically get the BFA level classes in. Also, the school picks 20 Sophomores who show promise and want to become professors to be mentored by a professor towards that end for 2 years. We also feel St. Petersburg has more opportunities for internships.

I personally think that if she wants to be a College Professor, a well rounded undergraduate education with a strong MFA program would serve her well, but I do not know the art world.....

Your input is greatly appreciated, especially college profs and grad students!

#2 Stephen Robison

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:04 PM

If she was my daughter I would say Alfred!  No thinking about it! Alfred! Your undergrad is very important but your grad school is too. Alfred does a great job at both.  
STEPHEN ROBISON
Head of Ceramics, Central Washington University
Ellensburg WA

http://stiffyguss.blogspot.com/
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http://www.flickr.co...ffpottery/sets/

CWU offers; BA, BFA, and MFA Degrees, (Post Baccalaureate also available). Images of CWU Ceramics studio can be seen at

http://www.flickr.co...57623735313670/

#3 JBaymore

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:12 PM

Quality of the actual education aside (not saying one is better than the other here at this point), one cannot underplay the "cachet" that the name Alfred still has in the ceramics world. While maybe not where it was at its absolute peak, it is still a very well respected institution.

In the world of teaching ceramics at colleges, the "pyramid narrows fast". It is a verry competitive situation...and as programs (unfortunately) shrink, it will only be getting more so. As sad as it sounds, along with being really GOOD at what you do (which is a very important aspect), the "who you know" and "where you studied" factor can certainly come into play in the real world of landing a teaching job.

That aspect is at least worth thinking a bit about.

But once a decision is made.... she must just run with that decision 110% and not second guess. Commit. Wring every bit out of whatever educational institution she picks. She can always change schools after 2 years if she really feels that she made a true mistake with the first choice. It is not the "end of the line".

At some point you do get into "paralysis by analysis".

best,

.......................john
John Baymore
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#4 TJR

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:09 PM

potter's mom;
I think I did reply to you in a previous post, but here goes again. John is right in his comment. You should choose Alfred. As I have said previously, I have an MFA from Alfred, class of 83. Alfred is a village. The downtown is one block on one side of the street. I came from Canada as a grad student. I did not know one person. I got involved with the foreign student association, since I was and still am a foreigner. I had to drop them as I was going to so many parties and social events with the students from the art school. Don't get me wrong, I worked my ass off, but I shot pool in the one bar, ate at the "Jet",[ the Collegiate restaurant], went to pot lucks, had crits, taught a liberal arts class for my teaching assistantship, shopped for antiques, you name it.
If your daughter wants to make connections for a possible professorship, Alfred is the place. Don't forget visiting artists who come through and those who teach the summer program.There is no real choice here. It's Alfred.
TJR.

#5 Mark C.

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:57 PM

Potters Mom
I too throw in my choice as Alfred's
Collage is a big time/money commitment and this is really not a choice as these two do not compare for me.
She will be happy there and best suited for that career goal at the end with Alfreds
I speak as one who planned to go there (Alfreds) and took a year out before my graduate work and started making a living as a potter and never looked back.
If I wanted a teaching job in ceramics that is the place to get that piece of paper and experience. Weather the jobs are out there is another question.
I do not feel there is a better place for a clay lover.
Mark
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#6 neilestrick

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:15 PM

I would not agree that Alfred has the number one ceramics program in the country. I had a friend that got his MFA there, and I must say that my MFA from Utah State was much more rigorous and educational. Alfred is an excellent school, though, and she would definitely be getting a good education.

I have always been of the opinion that college is what you make of it, especially undergrad. I got my BA from U. of Northern Colorado, definitely not know for ceramics. But I worked hard, immersed myself in the program, and got into 3 of the 5 MFA programs that I applied to. We had two gas kilns, one electric, and a raku kiln. Not big. My classmates in grad school came from very well know programs like Kansas City Art Institute, Alfred, Northern Arizona, etc, and I was a stronger thrower and had more glaze formulation knowledge than any of them. Don't feel like the undergrad degree has to be from 'the best' school. The best school is the one that she'll enjoy being at and inspires her to learn. It's not all about who has the most kilns or the biggest reputation. As long as the staff at Eckerd will support her and help her to learn as much as she wants, then it will be a good school, too. There's something to be said for small art programs, and a lot to be said for being happy with the social aspect of college, too. Miserable people don't want to learn.
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#7 neilestrick

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 03:17 PM

Also don't forget that most college students change majors at least a couple of times, no matter how positive they are about their future career. I started as a math/statistics major and had my whole life planned out. A bad teacher made me rethink that plan and I switched majors to graphic design, and eventually landed on ceramics and photography. I had to change schools when I changed majors, which was a real pain. You lose credits, have to make new friends, etc. So, regardless of your daughter's life plans, I recommend making sure that whichever school she chooses can also work for her if she changes majors.
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#8 potter'smom

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 05:31 PM

Thank you all for your input. She has much to consider....

Stephen, can you tell me what nbsp is? Soory, like I said I really don't know much about the art world.

Also, do you guys think that she could have a shot @ getting into Alfred as a grad student with a BA and a strong portfolio and internships, or would not having the BFA limit her options?


Thank you!

#9 neilestrick

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 11:56 AM

I had a BA and it did not hurt me at all. There's really not much difference in the work loads. With a good portfolio she'll be fine.
Neil Estrick
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#10 TJR

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:00 AM

Potter's mom;
I don't wish to muddy the waters here,but neilstruck has some good points as well. It's not the undergrad degree that is as important as the grad degree. What neil is saying, and I agree with him, is that it's the teaching and program that count. In my previous post, I was speaking more about the social aspects of the town of Alfred,which is a really small place. Ultimately, it's your daughter's decision as to what she wants to do with her life. You can only provide her with the best options you can. As to your other question about going to grad school at Alfred if you have an undergrad degree from there, I can't answer that one as I don't know how those decisions are made.
TJR.




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