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Sammule

Low Residency Mfa Thoughts?

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I am toying with the idea of pursuing my MFA. I do have an interesting situation, in that I am a full time tenured instructor at a local college. (FYI: all faculty here have the job title of instructor, even the 30 year veterans with PhD's.) Herein lies the problem, I can't or actually don't dare leave my position to attain the degree, which leaves me with the option of a "low residency" type MFA.

 

First the facts, then my questions:

1.) Dual BFA grad, (graphic design & ceramics)

2.) Employer will pay up to $200 a credit hour for professional development.

3.) Current salary based on two criteria, experience and degree.

4.) While I feel this opportunity is a no brainer, I honestly don't care about degrees, or pay scales, I do however want the experience for nothing else than furthering my skill/knowledge/body of work.

5.) I am not being pressured by the powers to be at all.

 

Now for the questions:

1.) Do any of you have experience with a low residency program?

2.) I feel like I will "miss out" and not really get the grad school experience, I'm thinking about the relationships (impromptu critiques, influence, etc.) of fellow grad students. I feel as though I will be at my home studio doing my thing like a recluse, which is ok, but I'm already doing that. Thoughts?

3.) Do you think a low residency program can compete with a traditional MFA?

4.) Would you bite the bullet and go for it?

 

Thank you for your time.

-Sam

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When I got out of college, I got married, hired at a HS as an art teacher. Our district paid 90% education when I started. This allowed me to get several credits at PSU in grad work to meet my PA teacher permanent certification (30). I looked into doing an MFA as an alternative to a Masters in Education. No where in the area had a low residency program, and PSU was the closest with no way to do the situation. Their Master in Art Ed program required massive amounts of pedagogy, very little in the way of studio. I opted to return to my old alma mater and get the masters there as I wanted more studio time.

 

Over the years I have believed that studio time=confidence, skills, and knowledge needed to design and create a meaningful demonstration for students. whether throwing on the wheel, making a paper folded and cut portfolio, or pulling an intaglio with a table top press. I never regretted the return to the other school, Mansfield State University, or taking the M.ed degree route. However, if there had been a low residency program that would have allowed me to work Summers full time, and part time throughout the year while I still paid the bills by teaching HS, I would have jumped at it. Does it matter, only if you figure that I might have taken a different road with the MFA. As it is, I am happy, productive, and still learning about art and ceramics. Top this off with retirement and a reasonable pension.

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Pres, I have been told by some co-workers that they would go the MA route, They stress online, and quickness and ease... I don't care about quickness or how easy this thing is. I really want to immerse myself in the program (the inner struggle I am having, will I get the chance to immerse myself with a low residency?), besides if in the future if I get the opportunity to advance or want to apply to a four year school, a terminal degree is almost mandatory, and at this point the MFA is it.

 

Thanks Marcia, I have a couple of programs in mind. Do you have an opinion on traditional MFA vs Low Residency? Pros? Cons? What did you get out of grad school? Will a low residency format allow those same experiences?

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If you are young and without a lot of professional experience, you might thrive in a traditional MFA. For working people trying to squeeze it in around a professional life, the low residency works better for them. I know one person who went to the Vermont Studio program and loved it.

Marcia

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I never considered the MA route, as I figured as a teacher, the Med would possibly open other venues. In the end, I decided not to go admin, not to get into other options in education even though I had opportunities. I loved the kids! On the other end of that coin, I had a niece that got her BFA, and other credits, who could not get a job. Ended up going back to school for her Med, adding in teacher certification. Got a job.

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Success in a low residency program has more to do with you as a learner, than the program itself.  Are you someone who likes to "run their own show?"  Do you have the discipline to keep yourself on track and your head in the game?  If not, don't waste your money.  If you are someone who enjoys reading, working, and learning on your own, are self-directed and motivated to succeed, low residency is for you.  My MEd is in Educational Administration and from a low residency program.  I like that style of learning.  I like self designed programs as well, but I am someone who is comfortable setting goals and getting the job done.  I also do not enjoy the social bulls*t that comes with most traditional settings so low res was perfect for me.  The question isn't so much about the program, it is more about YOU as a learner.  

 

Oh and with new online classrooms you will find plenty of interface time with others, it will just be written.  I'm presently involved in a low res/distance program for the Neurodevelopmental Approach to Learning and there is plenty of face to face time for my taste, and then time when we put what we have learned into practice in the classroom, and share about it online.  If you need daily input of others to "validate and pump you up" then a distance program is not necessarily going to be fulfilling for you unless  you forge a friendship with a fellow student with whom you can share on line.  

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