Lately I’ve been looking back at my education and the influence it has had on me today. I do realize now how privileged my educational experience is compared to the average joe. Just so no one misunderstands, I’m not complaining just simply looking back at it and its effects on me today. It is strange how the things you’re exposed to as a child really do influence what you do as an adult.
Ever since the 7th grade I have gone to an arts specialty school. This particular school focused on music, dance, theater, and visual art. I studied music, theater, and visual art while I was attending that school. There were still normal academic classes like every other school has, but looking back the academic classes in middle school were heavily downplayed. Students also missed many of the academic classes in order to focus on art shows and art events. Before I was even halfway through my first year of that school, an art high school came to visit and basically advertise their school in an assembly that everyone had to attend. I was completely convinced that I had to go to that high school because I did enjoy making art. The high school was a bit different in that you had to audition for whichever department you wanted to be in. It offered music, theater, musical theater, dance, media arts, and visual arts. It is possible to audition for all of them and get into all of them, but you would have to choose one department while you were there. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I already realized that I was not a good actor and I wasn’t confident enough in my music abilities. Making visual art as the department that interested me the most. It became my goal to go to that high school for visual art and it did become a reality. The only thing was that I was only looking into the now and not the future. There really isn’t much work out there for Fine Art unless you become a teacher or make graphic designs for companies.
Once high school rolled around, I was so used to not caring about academics that I never tried in my academic classes. Even though the high school was better about separating academics and art classes (academic classes in the morning and art classes in the afternoon) the academics was yet again heavily downplayed. Giving me less motivation to even care about them. I never got bad grades though (mostly As and Bs and a C in writing) , but the classes were so lenient that you didn’t have to try to get high marks. I did have to try in writing though. I’ve always had a crutch in that subject hence why I decided to name this blog “The Odd Scrawler”. Now as an adult I really do regret not taking my academic classes seriously and not looking more into what I would do for work in the future.
During all 4 years of high school at the beginning of the first semester, the art department would have a beginning assembly every other day that would last about a week or 2 sometimes 3. Each day a representative of an art college would visit us and advertise their college to all the students in the art department. This was quick and simple since the art department, for the most part, had less than 20 students total. We were the second smallest department (Media arts was the smallest department). I was an easily influenced kid so all it did was make me believe that I had to go to art college after art high school. Never thought about what I would do as an adult just completely convinced I had to take this very narrow minded pathway that was always in front of my face. At this point all my peer were going to go to a specialized college for their particular art so naturally I ended up doing the same. I went to art college and I continued not to care about the academics or look at my future at all.
By college, I was sliding by with Bs and Cs in my academic classes in college. I nearly got a D in my Intro to Art History class, but my teacher, I guess felt sorry for me and wanted to help me out so he let me redo a paper so he could bump me up to a C. That class made me feel so guilty for not trying because when I told that particular teacher I was studying for a BFA he looked at me in horror, like he truly believed I wasn’t smart enough to complete a BFA. I did try a bit harder on classes after that talk, but I took more classes than I realized, 12-13 classes a semester, so there really wasn’t much room to give it my all in academics. That Intro to Art History teacher was right though, I didn’t make it, but it wasn’t because of academics.
Three years into college, I started questioning what I was going to do afterwards. If I wanted to teach I would need to continue school for an MFA(expensive). I started feeling really depressed like I couldn’t go on anymore. Was it worth it to continue or was I going into debt for nothing. I ran away to a completely different state leaving behind everyone I knew in order to figure out what I wanted to do. I took a 2 year hiatus from any kind of art making and just focused on my job making a living and settling in in my new location. I don’t regret leaving everything because it did help me grow as a person. This decision also makes me believe that a person should take a year or two off before deciding whether to go to college or not.
When you’re young you can be easily influenced by your surroundings and it may or may not be the route you yourself should take. It is good to step back and think about all your possibilities. Now that it has been about 3 years since I left, I do question whether or not I should go back to college, but after seeing some friends struggling to find work after college and getting jobs that don’t require a degree to get. I’m kind of weary if I should go back. If I did I would just get a BA in Art History because I’m done with the visual art practices. I would rather make art on my own without the guidance for now at least.
Even though I continued to say that my academic studies were sort of a joke, they were pretty much above average when I look at schools that an average person in the United States would go to. So I do realize I did have a very good educational background that I didn’t take full advantage of and that Intro to Art History teacher’s expression does haunt me. The fact that another person truly believes I’m not able to complete a college degree bothers me. Maybe that’s why I want to at least get a BA just to show myself that that person is wrong and I’m completely capable of completing a college education. Otherwise it make no sense since I’m financially sound and getting a degree at this point isn’t necessary.
That 2 year hiatus did make me feel like I have been a bit brainwashed. All I know is art and all I care about doing is making art. I could care less what my job is as long as it can fund my art making because really art making isn’t always profitable. I got lucky because even without completing a college degree I was able to have a job that funds me and my artwork. It is scary, my whole life has made it so that being able to create artwork is all that really matters to me in the end.