Are Higher Artistic Degrees Worth the Cost?

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal looked at students who went to famous universities such as Columbia and New York University in New York, to degrees in subjects like art, cinema and even social work.

Many students said they learned a lot. However, when they graduated, they were heavily in debt and didn’t think they would find a job that would allow them to pay off their loans. After graduation, many students reported owing more than $ 100,000. During that time, they were only earning $ 50,000 a year.

A student who received a Masters of Fine Arts (known as MFA) from Columbia, Matt Black, told the newspaper that he was “financially hampered for life ”and owed nearly $ 300,000 to lenders.

The students said they spoke with Columbia about the high cost of graduate arts degrees, but never received a reasonable response, the newspaper reported. Education experts say these schools are very wealthy, with large endowments, which could be used to pay student tuition fees. Universities, however, prefer to require students to pay the full fee.

A famous school, Yale, is changing the system. Its theater program will be free for students after a $ 150 million donation from music and film producer David Geffen.

The data for the Wall Street Journal article came from the United States Department of Education and was limited to two years after a student graduates. When representatives of universities in history were asked about the financial problems of their graduates, many said that two years is a short time. They said their graduates slowly increased their income over time.

In subjects like math, medicine, science, and computer programming, graduate degrees are often required for first-year jobs. However, in more creative careers like writing, filmmaking, or painting, people can be very successful without earning a graduate degree.

The Harkness Tower on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, September 9, 2016. photo.

Kevin Carey is a higher education expert for New America, a public policy research center. He described the masters as “a swindleIn a conversation with the Slate.com site.

“To charge people with a tonne money to start an artistic career is often very problematic, ”he said.

Carey also said that schools say “we need the money” when asked about the high cost of their master’s degrees. But “everyone needs the money,” he said, adding it’s a bad defense.

Even in careers like law or business, higher degrees are no guarantee of financial success. The same Wall Street Journal authors looked at law graduates from the University of Miami, Florida. They saw that recent graduates often borrowed $ 150,000 to go to law school. Two years after graduation, they were only earning $ 59,000.

Sergio Castillo is an actor in New York. He said he owed so much money on his student loans that he stopped paying them.

He went to the University of California, Los Angeles, then got an MFA from The Actors Studio in New York. He doesn’t expect to make a lot of money playing. Was his MFA worth it?

“I think it was worth it. I don’t put a price tag on my education or my experience. I think it’s a little unfortunate that so many people take for granted education. So many people, people like my mother, for example, never went to college. “

Castillo said students who are considering a graduate art degree should be sure to do so because they value education, not because they want money or be famous.

“There are a lot of other things you can do, don’t go for that reason. “

Lynne Adrine is a former television producer who directs the broadcast journalism graduate program in Washington, DC for Syracuse University.

She said students need to ask an important question when thinking about graduate school.

“Is it worth investing all that money for this mastery, and what will it turn into later?” “

In some areas, people may have better experiences working as an assistant than spending money on higher education.

American director and producer Michael Bay is featured on a film set.  Sometimes it is better to work as assistants than to go to film school.

American director and producer Michael Bay is featured on a film set. Sometimes it is better to work as assistants than to go to film school.

Adrine warned that the cost of higher education in the United States is a serious problem.

“I just think there is a there is a account come in terms of college tuition fees in general and the in for money that one gets, ”she said.

Kasia Plazinska is a filmmaker in New York. She came from Poland to the United States to study about 10 years ago.

She studied at both Baylor University in Texas and the University of Iowa. She said that she had received a lot of financial support from these universities. When asked about the high cost of higher education in the United States, she described it in one word: “madness”.

“It’s so crazy. I mean I know friends who are blocked with debt. And literally they can’t, they don’t take risks in life. Just even change jobs because they’re so scared.

Plazinska said graduate arts programs can help students meet and befriend other artists they can work with throughout their careers. It’s even better if the school is in a place like New York or Los Angeles.

Respondents had no solution to the problem of expensive graduate degrees in creative subjects.

For the school to be of value, Plazinska said, students need to remember why they started making art in the beginning.

“It’s just for the sheer pleasure of creating and flourish myself that way.

I am Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learn English. Susan Shand was the editor.

Do you think people should go to higher education if they want to work in the arts? Tell us in the comments section and visit our Facebook page.

Quiz – Are Higher Artistic Degrees Worth the Cost?

Quiz - Are Higher Artistic Degrees Worth the Cost?

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Words in this story

degree -not. an official document and title that is given to someone who has successfully completed a series of courses at a college or university

social work -not. an official document and title that is given to someone who has successfully completed a series of courses at a college or university

hampered –Adj. the state of not being able to move forward or progress easily

donation -not. a large sum of money which has been donated to a school, hospital, etc., and which is used to pay for its creation and continued support

swindle -not. a dishonest way to make money by cheating on people

take for granted –V. believing or assuming that (something) is true or probably true without knowing that it is true

to fill –V. make (someone or yourself) happy by achieving or doing something that was desired

journalism -not. the activity or work of collecting, writing and editing news articles for newspapers, magazines, television or radio

account -not. the act of judging something – usually in the singular

in for money -not. used to describe the value received when money is spent

blocked –Adj. in a place or situation that is difficult or impossible to get out of


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