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The Beginning: My Experience Applying to Fine Arts Journalism Programs

By Dan Star

My name is Dan Star and I'm a "non traditional" student. I'm 44 years old, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art/Interior Design and currently hold the position of Program Lead for the Interior Design/CAD Dept. at a small private college in the southeast. Teaching is a new unexpected twist in my career, but a welcome one. In order to pursue this further it's necessary for me to get my Masters Degree. I'm in the very earliest stages of that process, having just chosen my Major and "Dream" program about a month ago.

I loved being an Undergraduate student so this is a task I'm looking forward to. When I realized it would be necessary, I thought about it and set two major requirements for myself. The first was to pick a subject that I would enjoy studying. My second requirement was that my major provide me with a skill set that would actual have the potential to be useful in the future. I considered several options, the most obvious being a Masters in Interior Design, however, I don't feel that a Masters in Interior Design will give me the fullest educational benefit possible for the time and effort I will be putting into it. These two attributes did bring an answer to mind, though. I have always enjoyed writing and have been told on many occasions that I have a talent for it. In the past, with a few exceptions, my attempts to seriously pursue writing on a professional level were blocked by my lack of a degree and this is the ideal opportunity to remedy that shortcoming. Having decided on Journalism, my preliminary research quickly revealed a relatively new innovation in this area, namely, degrees in Fine Arts Journalism.

It didn't take more than a few hours searching on the web for me to decide that a top college in the North East apparently has the best program of this type in the country. They will allow me to get my Masters of Fine Arts Journalism with a focus on architecture. Not only are they a highly ranked Journalism Program in the country but they also have a highly ranked Architecture program which will oversee my concentration work.

The only way this could be more perfect were if their campus were not far away. They only offer an onsite program so I will have to move there to study. Fortunately, they offer the full degree in one year of full time work. My college has even promised to keep my position open until I return, assuming this doesn't lead to something even better. First I have to get accepted!

The thing that concerns me most is that my GPA is not good. I'm a very intelligent man. I took the SAT one time, coming down with a bad cold, and still scored 1175. I'm sure I could have done much better if I had tried but that was more than good enough so I didn't retake it. My IQ usually tests around 135 and I have hit the top of every standardized test I ever took. The problem is that I was in Art School, with no intention of ever pursuing an advanced degree. Unlike most other fields, GPAs in the art world are largely irrelevant. The important thing is a portfolio of impressive work, which I had. Sadly, my GPA is a dismal 2.53 and, today, it has come back to haunt me. I'm wondering if I can get accepted anywhere, much less my desired program. My one good excuse is that I studied French in Junior College. When I moved on to the university I wanted to continue that so I substituted French Classic Literature for my English requirements. Thus, I struggled for four C's when I could easily have had A's. I hope my initiative and dedication to education above and easy grade will count for something. Friends who seem to know what they are talking about say it will. It feels very daunting at this point going into the process without really understanding what the process is.

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