Should you go to college for a Creative Degree?

I’m not saying, don’t go to college for writing. I’m not saying it was a bad idea, especially if you’ve already done so. It was once almost mandatory, and then drifted into a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I am saying, now and for the foreseeable future, it’ s just not a value proposition. This, is a difficult thing for me to say. I love school, I love books and movies about school, and school has been the way forward for 100 years. My parents have advanced degrees, and even my grandmother went to college. But. Things. Change.

If you have both the time and the money, coupled with the unshakeable desire to do so, Go, and really enjoy it. If, however, you’re considering borrowing the money… really, Really slow down and think about this.

Jobs in this field don’t pay well, teaching jobs are the same and require a Masters, jobs in publishing, same, and the debt will be such a boat anchor and depressant on everything you do for years and years. Sometimes for your entire working life. Sometimes beyond.

If you borrow money for college, make sure it will pay for itself. If you want to learn how to write, they are other ways to accomplish this. This site, and other similar resources will allow you to get the foundation you need. The rest is up to you. Here’s the thing though: the rest is up to you, even if you spend all that money to get an MFA in Creative Writing. You have to put in the time, the intention, and then; Deliver. You do this, alone. Your diploma neither pays the bills or line-edits.

But…you say, the friendships, the camaraderie, the connections, the oversight, the deadlines, the mentoring, the someone-telling-me-I’m doing it right, and don’t suck.

These things all exist in the world, without spending 30-75k per year for multiple years.

Like all things, this need not be a binary decision, (yes/no/stay/go) you can opt out of college in a highly specialized spectrum fashion.

For instance, go for a year, if you must, because Going to College is both an experience, and more than the sum of it’s parts. Maybe you get accepted and choose not to go. Maybe you go for a month. Whatever counts for you, whatever makes you feel like you assessed the situation and did what makes sense. You could consider a school in Europe where Americans can go for free, or for very little.

After you learn how to write, you’ll write something. When you have Something Special you’d like feedback on, there’s a whole world of workshops, on-line writing groups, local groups, start one yourself, freelance reviewers, editors, copy-editors, coaches, consultants etc.  Think, workarounds, de-centralized, custom, a la carte. But first: you learn, you practice, you do. You have a tremendous amount of control over all that, and then you find the specific feedback channels that come next.

During this time, reclaim the time people normally spend on TV or social media. You’re going to school, getting an education, and your studies come first. Cultivar can be thought of as a self-paced writing program that you attend online. But, the words/concept of ‘On-line’ makes me think of cheapness, porn, and trolls, so I prefer: The Invisible College, or, The Academy of the Ether, or, The University of You.

You know those Sushi restaurants with little conveyor belt or flowing stream where you pick out whatever you want as it floats by you? Isn’t that better that having to pay 30-70 Freaking Grand just to walk in the door?  Think of a flowing stream of knowledge, you get the books (library/used/new) that build your skills, you write what you want, maybe some on-line classes, maybe attend some writer’s workshops,  hire some professionals to polish your work, and eventually:

Your Manuscript, your way, on your own time, on your own debt-free terms.

Welcome to Cultivar, the Invisible College.

 

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