What would you do? (education related)

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by epatsellis, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    As some of you may know, I was going to return to school next month to finish up an associates degree (AFA in photography) and ulitmately transfer to the BFA program at U. Missouri/St. Louis. A few things have come up that make it difficult, but not impossible.

    One of the biggest is that I can't move to St. Louis right away, and it's a 2 1/2 hour drive (each way). As I see it I have two choices:

    Suck it up, work part time and commute 3 nights a week/1 day (3 of my classes are taught eves and two comprise all day Fri) get reall friendly with my local caffeine pusher and try to do it. (admittedly, I'm not 20 anymore, and at 44, the day just seems awfully short)

    Take a class or two (Eng. Comp. other humanities requirements) locally for a semester, while I get everything in place to move either midwinter or late spring, then pick up at St. Louis CC.

    At this point, I'm so damn frustrated, I'm this close to saying screw the whole idea, but something (maturity? naw, probably insanity) makes me want to step back and assess the whole situation.

    I'm open to anybody's suggestions, as the wife is of the mind to just drop it for now (I took a year off, in 1981, somehow never found the time to go back to school) and the dogs just look at me like I'm crazy. (maybe I am expecting them to answer me.)

    erie
     
  2. rjas

    rjas Member

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    2 and a half hours each way... you'll be insane in no time. Just wait until winter, whats the big deal? As for me, I'm just making the motions until I get the balls to go off on my own. Plus it'd break my mothers heart if I dropped out of college a third time.
     
  3. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Erie,
    You might be surprised at how accustomed you will become to that commute. You can always listen to books whilst driving. Get the degree, ASAP.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Spouses are often quick to day "forget it" because it does not mean anthing to them and they want to maintain things at status quo. But this is who you are. You waited long enough. You gave it up once. Now you time has come to make it happen! Contact a Motel 6 or Motel 8 and make an arrangement for a good price for your repeat business.

    Steve
     
  5. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    2.5 hours of commuting is NOT safe, especially after night classes! And if the weather gets bad in the winter . . . .

    5 hours of commuting, at today's gas prices, plus the wear and tear on your car for a grand total of 15 hours of driving each week -- that's a lot of cost and risk to study something, even if you want to very badly. I think that money and time would be better spent shooting and buying film and then do the program LATER when you can make the move. Or, find another program closer in.

    You will hardly ever be at home with that schedule, you'll totally screw your sleep patterns, and you won't be much good during the other days when you need to be doing family stuff and shooting assignments.

    I would be very, very careful about undertaking that regimen for an academic program that promises little economic payoff (albeit enormous emotional satisfaction and personal fulfillment!) if you can simply delay doing it until a better time.

    FWIW . . . .
     
  6. alex66

    alex66 Member

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    Im starting a degree in photography in september, I would guess that you have more or less the same reasons as I, an overiding love and passion for photography. If I was in your position I would be looking for some lodgings for the wk days, we have here so I guess you must there people who rent out a room in there home for not great amounts of money? If you dont do it how much will you regret it after and ask yourself will it cause resentment between you and your wife later on? I know it may sound harsh but you have to think about the pros and cons of either course of action and talk to your wife about it, explain how important it is to you and what the options are.
     
  7. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Take as many classes as you can locally first and make a move to finish the rest if you really need a college degree. Driving can get bitchy, but you don't want that to be the reason to stop you from pursuing something you have already planned to pursue.
     
  8. dferrie

    dferrie Member

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    Erie,

    That's a really though decision to have to make. Having studied at night, I can recall how hard it was to keep motivated (and awake) after a full days work and then facing into 3 hours of lectures. I only had a 30 minute (each way) commute and I was 20 at the time. I turned 40 last year and was looking at taking on a photography course by night, again a 30-40 minute commute each way, but with a demanding job, a wife and two children I just could not face into it. Ironically, shortly after this I was asked to undertake a course by a group I volunteer with, I agreed as the course was being run a 5 minute walk from home and is spread over two years and "just" 4 weekends per year. There is a group of 6 of us doing the course together and we are all finding the return to structured learning extremely difficult to manage, especially getting assignments completed. I'm now glad that I decided that rather than doing the photography course I decided to give myself more "me time" with my Photography and getting out on day trips with fellow APUG members I think has been more fulfilling that the course would have been.

    I think when you are looking at your very long commute (aside from lecture time) you should also try and find out what time of homework/assignments you will need to do as this is am important factor we can also be very time consuming and so easy to overlook.

    I wish you look with whatever you decide, but think you are right to stop, step back and look at everything involved.

    Just my two cents worth, for whatever it is worth,

    David
     
  9. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Is there an option to study at home? We have the Open University here, which allows people to fit in degree courses with their day to day lives.
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Erie,

    I've seen it reported in several places now, from three or four different studies, as well as from extensive anecdotal evidence, that tiredness is running neck-and-neck with drink as a cause of accidents. Sorry, I can't cite where I've seen this, because I don't remember. It wasn't in learned journals, nor the tabloid press at the other extreme, but in reasonably respectable magazines and newspapers. As you say, at 44, the days don't seem to get any longer, and I can assure you from a perspective some 13 years down the road, it gets worse.

    Now, no doubt you have already been through this, and it may be an impertinent question, but I'd be interested in your response if you can be bothered to make one (and I will more than understand if you don't).

    What do you expect a formal qualification in photography to do for you, that you cannot do for yourself with books, magazines, the internet, and (above all) taking pictures?

    It may be that you want the structure of a course, or the art history, or the letters after your name, or all kinds of other things, but in the 5 hours you'd spend commuting, never mind the time you spend at the school itself, you can do a hell of a lot of reading and photography.

    My own inclination -- and as I say, I apologize if this is presumptuous or goes over ground you have already analyzed to the nth degree -- would be to try this 'self-instruction' route at home until you can move, and to keep an open mind at all times as to whether a formal education would give you much more.

    My second choice would be to acquire whatever credits you need locally, before moving; but I cannot really comment on that as the American education is so different from any I know.

    Admittedly I'm biased, in that I've never taken a single course in photography in my life, but I have earned a living at and from it for around 30 years, and I know at least as many good photographers, no matter how you define 'good', without formal qualifications as with.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  11. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I commute by driving 50 miles each way to where I work. I get up at 4:30AM to be there by 7:00AM to prepare for a rehearsal half an hour later. On at least 2, but more often 3 or 4 days a week I have to stop at a rest area on the way home in the afternoon to take a nap because I can't keep my eyes open and drive safely. It can be very scary!

    I've also decided not to continue one of the orchestral situations I've been in for 24 years as assistant principal cellist because, after the day I just described, a three hour rehearsal at night and then an hour and fifteen minute drive home was becoming just too much and waaaay too dangerous.

    I completely agree with Roger....learn on your own until you can move a lot closer. Check with the school to determine how long they will honor the credits you've already earned, and finish the degree later.

    And keep in mind that neither musicians, nor photographers attract an audience with their credentials. It's their work that matters.
     
  12. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    If there are ANY requirements you can knock out locally, do that. 5 hours a day driving is insane and unsafe. Imagine if you could study for 5 hours a day...
     
  13. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Picking up on Andy K's idea - have you looked into whether you can attend a lot of the UMo/StL classes on-line?

    My niece attends UConn and fell behind in credit hours in her Freshman year (some poor advice put her in an advanced MicroEcon course that she had to drop late in the semester). In order to pick up some credits she decided to take a Summer Semester course but also wanted to work. There was an amazing number of course offerings available on-line.

    Usually these courses are constructed around being put on a "team" and then preparing assignments via on-line collaboration with feedback from the instructor to queries etc.

    I would think that certain photography courses would be ideal for on-line learning.

    Anyway, it's a thought. I agree with others here that a 2-1/2 hour commute each way after working all day is beyond reason.
     
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  15. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    Roger,
    I'll be brief, as I'm home for lunch and will expand later. Basically, 20 or so years ago, I worked (rather successfully) as a product/commercial shooter. I left the field and started working as a graphic artist/designer, ultimately owning my own sign shop, which my wife and I made the decision to close late last year.

    I've been applying for positions as a designer/art director/photographer, the gist of it is that everybody loves my work, very talented, blah, blah, but the job requires a BA or BFA, sorry.

    In fact, after meeting with the head of the photo department, I'll be testing out of all the photo requirements for the Associates degree, he told me that if I see a class that interests me, take it, otherwise, a portfolio review and paying for the classes would grant me the credits.

    I'll write more when I get home this evening, but basically, I need the letters after my name, there is no commercial work to speak of in this area, and I sure can't afford a digital back for the 4x5 or the hassy and/or RB. Right now I'm working at a job for 12.00 an hour, about the going rate here, for somebody that is very familiar with my work, and knows that whether it's design work, running the printing presses, etc. I can handle it, un supervised and it will come out right, the first time.

    erie
     
  16. MartinB

    MartinB Member

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    I would look at a compromise and commute for the all day friday courses but skip the evenings. It gets you further along with credits but only involves one return trip per week instead of as many as 4. Investigate whether any of the evening courses you miss could be taken remotely or a local substitute. You might find a sympathetic instructor who can be flexible about attendance and open to teleconference if you dial in to the speaker phone.

    It may not get you where you want to be a quickly as you would like but it does move you along. Additionally, if you need to keep working then you are only away from town on Fridays.

    Another possibility is to get the degree from an open university. There are a lot of remote options that may be outside your state or even country that may be worth investigating.

    I encourage you to persue further education if that is what you want to do. Just choose your courses wisely since you are sacrificing to take them. Take courses that challenge you intellectually and leave the filler courses (if any) for those you can take locally or remotely. Even if the degree does not lead directly to employment, if you have studied subjects you are interested in it will be worthwhile.

    I commuted for a 4 year undergraduate degree when I was 30. An hour and a half each way (125 km) for four years = 150,000 km in a diesel VW Golf. It was not as bad as some of the other posters have speculated but you need to know your limits and not push too hard. Most days were fine but there were times when I was too tired to make it all the way and had to pull over at a rest stop for a couple hours sleep. Even opening the window at -25 C could not keep me awake! (we have real winter driving here)

    good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Erie,

    Fair enough, and thanks very much indeed for replying: as I say, I was hesitant even to make the suggestions I did. I am hearing this from more and more 'young' people (bear in mind that when I was an assistant in 1974 you were a young schoolboy, though today the difference in age is hardly significant).

    If this is the case, I can't argue with your logic -- but I'd still be VERY hesitant to do all that driving, and Option 2 would be my choice: get the credits locally; work EVEN HARDER on the photography in the time you save; and before you go oir the letters after your name, apply for more jobs, explaining what you've been doing, and why, and challenging them (as politely as possible) to tell you what more they think they will get by waiting for the letters after your name. Pile it on shamelessly: 'freshness of vision', whatever you like. Put a lot of effort into being published in print, even in magazines: most people see that as being as impressive as a degree.

    As Frances said, "Life is too short for that sort of commute..." -- this from someone who was spendng up to 2 hours each way on the LA freeways when I met her -- "...especially when there are no guarantees." I'd add "And likely to get shorter with a schedule like that."

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  18. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    The commute time you're describing is pretty much what the people living in the Ottawa-Montreal corridor experience. Based on what I've seen, the easiest solution is to commute once, sleep for two nights in town (find a roomate, crash on someone's couch, pay for the uni rez, get a motel, etc), and then commute back.

    I'm not sure if you have kids and whether this will affect them, but if you need to make a sacrifice, I would suggest you do it wisely. Wasting 5h of your day commuting is not going to help. Otherwise the next best solution is to wait until everything works together.
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I still think checking into a motel after class is the best way to go. No lost credits; not transfer of credit problems. I taught at the university senior and graduate level as a professor for nine years and I have seen it all. This is not forever, it is a temporary inconveince to reach your goal. Once you have the degree and you derive more income, your spouse will forgive.

    Steve
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Steve,

    More income?

    From photography?

    Well, it's possible, but I'd not bet on it.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Roger,

    This is about him being himself. He was this way before he got married and his spouse will not respect that.

    Guess what happens.
    The winter before I got married, I skied 42 days [and had a full time professional job]. After I got married, she thought one weekend a year was enough for me. [People get married thinking that they can change someone. Well you can't make someone change.] When I had enough of the crap, I declared myself a free agent.
    **** I ended up with full custody for the two children and three out of four people in the family were much happier.

    Moral: He is what he is. He needs to be himself or he will never be happy. She needs to get over herself. She either will get with the program or he will DTB.

    Steve
     
  22. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I don't know the man nor the status of his marriage to make any broad sweeping comments about who should accomodate whom in the relationship.

    But I can vouch that, sad though it may be to some, lack of credentials can be a serious career impediment. Simply put, for many employers, educational credentials are a basic entry requirement. All of the good work, accomplishments, creative vision etc. are fine - but most employers need a basic entry standard BEFORE they consider these "qualitative" factors of a particular applicant.

    Most employers have written job descriptions which note minimum requirements - and in this case that likely includes either a BA or BFA. This minimum requirement protects the employer and enables her/him to then make a final decision based on more qualitative factors such as vision, ability to fit in etc.

    Most employers nowadays are subject to the Equal Opportunity Employment Act which mandates fairness in hiring practices - including a "level playing field". Consequently, no employer wants to run the risk of an employment discrimination suit because it waived a basic requirement for one applicant but not for all.

    So it's not so simple as just saying - prove your worth despite the fact you don't have the degree. Because what the applicant really would have to argue is that the employer should remove the degree requirement for everyone so he too can qualify.

    Simply put yourself on the other side of the equation. Why shouldn't the employer first insist on a basic educational credential - if just to thin down the pile of applicants? She then starts with a potential employment grouping that have all met a standard, objective criteria. Thereafter, she is much "freer" to use her qualitative judgment for the final decision. If only because no rejected applicant can complain: Why did you hire him, when he didn't even have the college degree you said was required?
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    George points out that the man needs the credientials to ply his trade.

    The OP stated that this is the path he started on decades ago and was forced to sidetrack. This is not a man who after ten years of marriage desided to take up golf for the first time and has rarely been seen at home since. This is who was then and who he is now, so this is no surprise to her. This should not be about her controlling him. This should be about who he is and that being himself will increase the family income while improving his [and eventually everyone in family] happiness and well being.

    Steve
     
  24. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    Actually Steve, when I left college in 1981, I was an engineering student, and was offered a manufacturing engineer position at a Fortune 500 company. The decision came down to: minimun wage job for the next 4 years or ~40K a year to start, ramping up to around 60K within 12 months...(that's 1981 dollars, they made them a lot bigger then..) wasn't a bad decision whatsoever, and I don't regret it for a minute.

    2 years down the road I was offered a very sweet "go away" deal during their initial downsizing and I took it, left with a huge chunk of change and got back into graphic arts.

    Within 8 months, I pretty much owned the catalog design and shooting business in the area ( New England), for a few years at least. (by 1985, I had 2 Compugraphic typesetters, Linotype imagesetters, a full lab (E6, C41, B&W) and a studio the size of a warehouse jam packed with equipment and a staff that was top notch. (except for the majority of the shooters we hired, fresh out of college with BA or BFA's. Funny tangential story, we had a silverware catalog we were shooting that required a bunch of shots at 100%. I gave the job to one of the newer guys, and stood around and watched. After 45 mins of calculating bellows extensions, bellows factors, etc.. I walked up, took two rulers, and in about 30 sec. was set up for 1:1, I mean what were they teaching these guys?)

    At the time, you had a designer, typesetter,art director, etc. all involved in making even a simple one page sales sheet. You had your copy typeset, the designer(or a flunkie) pasted up the layout with comps for your pictures, you made bluelines (matte or clear acetate/mylar with the important items hand drawn), took your product to the photographer, he laid the blueline on the ground glass, etc. you then paid said photographer, left with your trannies, took them to get separated, stripped into the final films, then burnt plates and printed. The fact that we offered a one stop solution, from concept to final film, did in computer stripping, typesetting, etc. and just output film seps isn't terribly revolutionary today, but this was 20 years ago. When the Macintosh made everybody a "desktop publisher" I saw the writing on the wall and got out while the going was good. I spent the next 14 years working in and around the sign trade, as there was still a need for "real" designers, that could come up with a design, sketch it, then draw and hand letter it (in the beginning at least). Creatively very satisfying.

    When I moved here (central IL) my wife was fully aware of my photograpy, and from time to time I shot a little here or there. Within a year of moving here, my wife and I had opened our own signshop, and at first it was very satisfying, I would never get rich, but we made ends meet most of the time.

    Like everything else (photography included) once it's affordable for the masses, suddenly people that have never worked in the trade are signmakers, giving work away, even worse. (bad work, at least the customer get's what they pay for...) having been down that road before, we closed our shop, and made arrangements for me to get back to doing what I love, photography. Sold the house, living in a cheap rental, parked the Audi for now, and drive a 20+ year old van, doing everthing I can to minimize any non photography related expenses.

    It's only the last few years that I've picked up an RB system, several LF cameras and have gotten back into photography hard core. My wife is 100% behind me, and is willing to work full time while I go to school, even if the school work load becomes such that I have to focus on it and not work (at least there's Pell grants and Stafford Loans, worse case). I've given it a great deal of thought and am commited to doing this, and my wife is far more supportive than she should be, given that I'm asking her to give up alot.

    The reality is, it's just as copake said, without a degree, at the most I get a look at my book, looks of amazement when they see some of the companies I have done work for in the past, then sorry, but we require a Bachelor's degree, good luck in your job hunt.

    Hope that clears some of the confusion without adding a layer or two...


    erie
     
  25. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Erie,

    I very much figured that this was your situation - which is why I didn't want to get into the relationship thing.

    You wife deserves a ton of credit for being supportive of what you are trying to do.

    FWIW, although with very different career "particulars", I have a similar path - although I'm ahead of you by a few years (now 56 y.o.).

    But, when I was in my early 40's I was m/l at a career "dead end". I'd done well but had made some changes such that I was beginning to see more doors closing than opening. It was at that time that I got serious about pursuing a long-delayed desire to get my law degree.

    I started out going part-time while trying to maintain my career in bank finance. But I was serving neither master very well. My first semester grades "sucked" and I was noticed at work more for my leaving at 4:55PM each day than for what I was accomplishing.

    Finally, my wife and I had THAT conversation. She was (and remains) successful in her career and said: "Quit your job and go to law school full time."

    It was music to my ears.

    I scrambled to catch up the credits so I could get done in the three-year span of F/T school vs. the P/T 4 years. And I made it!

    Today, guess what? I still work in a bank, I still do finance, but I do legal work and get to use all my talents and experience.

    Oh, and I never would have gotten my current job without the "credential".

    Oh but one thing, you have to find a way to avoid that 5 hour R/T commute! It will kill you. There are some good ideas here such as Open Univ., On-Line courses, or even finding a Motel 6. On that last point - how about you find one half way between?

    Sometimes you stop there on the way back - catch shut eye and maybe arrange to leave a couple of extra clothes changes in the office etc.

    Whatever, good luck - and keep your eye on the prize w/o killing yourself in its pursuit!
     
  26. Chris Breitenstein

    Chris Breitenstein Member

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    Their are so many options that you would be insane to commute. If you can still receive transferable credits at lower rate locally take them!!! In my opinion you are better of taking all of your lower devision coursework at a community or city college for two reason 1) you will save a bloody fortune, 2) you WILL get a better education. Lower devision at a university is usually taught by grad students. The community college I attended had a staff full of Phd's, who had worked in their respected fields for at least a decade. Taking lower devision at a university is for rich kids, and those who got scholarships.

    Other then continuing at local school contact the university and see if they have online or correspondence courses.

    Yours;