I didn’t get into grad school.
I’ve been researching MFA programs ever since I finished undergrad at USC in 2006. I’ve looked at Columbia, Yale, Hunter College, NYU, UCLA, Otis, Art Center, CalArts, UC Irvine, and a few others. An older artist friend of mine told me that the biggest mistake that she made was completing her graduate art degree and then moving to a different city; basically, get your MFA where you plan on settling. It made sense (still does), so I crossed the East Coast schools off my list and focused on the ones more centered around Los Angeles. When thinking of my career goals, I decided that any grad program that I participate in must offer me the following:
- an emphasis in film photography
- labs where I can do my own printing
- a lax attitude toward interdisciplinary work
- paid TA positions
Those are the four major components that must be present for my graduate education. After all was said and done, UCLA’s MFA program was the only one left standing among my original choices. Besides, if accepted, I could ride my bike between my place and the grad studios. It’s the only place I applied. Their MFA program is notoriously hard to get into. I still cried when I got the rejection email. For about five minutes. Five minutes of whatamIgonnadowhatamIgonnadowhatamIgonnadowhatamIgonnado.
When I thought of my immediate future, I visualized the summer camp I’ll be working, my trip to Brazil, my trip to Germany and Italy immediately after, and coming back to begin my post-graduate education. My rejection means an almost-certain return to an existence I haven’t had to deal with for a while, an existence where I’m wondering where in the hell I’m going to get my next meal, how in the hell am I going to pay my landlady, how in the hell will I be able to afford to get from point A to B, around to C, and onward to D before getting back to A. That existence was marginally bearable, and wasn’t the most fun thing ever. Unless I book another national commercial or my first ad campaign, this is what I’ll have to look forward to come September. Grad school was going to be my physical savior.