What would you do? (education related)
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.)
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.
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.
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 . . . .
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.
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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.
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,
I want to take the photograph I think I'm taking
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.
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.
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.