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straight into grad school or apprenticeship/residency


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Hi! I am approaching the end of my undergrad experience this spring and i wanted to know if anyone had any knowledge on the benefits of taking a year to either study under an artist or at a facility before starting graduate school? Or if i should just go straight through? 

Edited by Maggie D
rephrasing
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Hi Maggie,

That's a good question!

Are you set on where you'll go for Grad school? If so, how much flexibility in the program, and if there is significant choice in concentration, are you set on your choices?

A friend once said, "...find out where it's at, then go for it."
The finding can take ...a while, heh.

No doubt there also are arguments for getting school in the rear view mirror asap.

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Apparently, since you are talking about an apprenticeship, your undergrad work was in ceramics and that your grad work will be the same. 

Let me give you some of my background as a reference point which may or not help you make your decision...As I was growing up, my Dad told me I was going to college. So much so that when the time came, I went to college. This was right smack in the middle of the Vietnam War. As long as I was doing OK in school, I got a student deferment which kept me from getting drafted. Well...things didn't go so well as I found that I liked to party more than study. On top of that, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with myself as a career. I was enrolled in one of the country's top engineering schools and, because I didn't know what I wanted, I changed my major 3 times in a year and a half, going from chemical engineering, to organic chemistry to inorganic chemistry. I couldn't hack college, so I withdrew at the six week midterms in the second half of my soph year and joined the Air Force. I was able to get into a career field that kept me out of the war and turned me into a nuclear scientist. I spent six months in Denver (where I met my future wife) going through electronics school, and the remainder of my four year commitment in Sacramento, CA, where I finished up as the head of the maintenance dept for a nuclear research lab. Upon getting out of the AF, I got a job building broadcast antennae and when I reached my pinnacle there as head of their maintenance dept, I moved on to become head of the maintenance dept of a well-known microfilm company. After working there for a few years and getting bored with what I was doing. I went to a professional freelance photographer's school but could not find enough work to pay the bills. (It was 1980 and we were in the middle of a recession and not too many folks were buying photo work.) My wife had started a housecleaning and painting business and asked me to do some handyman work for her on occasion which ultimately led to my becoming a general contractor, staying in the business for almost forty years. (I didn't get bored with that career.) I retired in January of 2018 to spend more time doing the things I really like, pottery being one of those things.

Getting back your question...If you truly love the thought of making ceramics your career, and considering your age (whatever that may be), I would weigh what you would get with a graduate degree against what you would achieve with an apprenticeship/work experience under a good artist. Throughout my life, while I was good at book learnin', I was better with hands on experience. The other thing to consider is whether or not you could afford the work-study program and live a decent life. Hope this helps...

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For a lot of people, taking time off makes it harder to go back to school. They get wrapped up in what they're doing, find jobs that they like, etc, and going back to school seems like something they don't need. I think that for some people that works out great, and for others they're not looking at the long term benefits of going back to school. It's easy to think things are great when you're 23 years old, but that isn't necessarily how you want to live when you're 53. There are certainly benefits to both apprenticeships and school, but they're different. Apprenticeships will teach you far more about the actual business and work of being a full time artist, which is incredibly valuable. Grad schools are notorious for not teaching the nuts and bolts of being in business for yourself, since the MFA is a studio degree. They focus on the art. Grad school will improve your work a lot, because you'll have the time and freedom to experiment without the pressure of production, and weekly critiques and input from artists from other schools and backgrounds. If you do it right, you can come out of grad school with a body of work that's ready to be produced and sold. A grad degree will also give you the opportunity to teach at the college level, which can be a great option for income while building your sales, and will often include studio space.

Many grad schools allow you to defer entry for a year after being accepted, so it may be worthwhile getting accepted to grad school and then taking a year to do a residency or apprenticeship.

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