In total there were 4,879 posts made this month (3,772 in December 2009). There were 145,706 visits, 68,593 Unique Visitors and 790,728 Pageviews to the forum. Thanks everyone for keeping the forum busy and all of your contributions. Once again, let us know if there's anything we can do to help.
Congrats bhikhaari! Welcome to the list
By the numbers
In total there were 3,179 posts made this month (2,918 in November 2009). There were 125,845 visits, 64,605 Unique Visitors and 615,615 Pageviews to the forum. Thanks everyone for keeping the forum busy and all of your contributions. Once again, let us know if there's anything we can do to help.
This is going to be a long post, but I want you to understand this. I do understand where you're coming from, and I think that my experience will help you.
Well, I lost my way and obtained my undergraduate degree in 1994 (from a good private school), and then lost my way further when I obtained a law degree in 2000 (from a top 20 school). Only now am I getting around to do a Masters in Architecture (what I started out wanting to do in the first place but got sidetracked a long time ago, before I was badly counseled by physics professor and my architectural history professor retired conveniently as soon as I got to undegrad). I'll be honest. Undergraduate transcripts were important, as maybe the gpa and maybe the school where you graduated, but probably the most important things are the good relationships with the professors at a city college that I've been taking night classes at for the last 8 years (to change my career from misguided law to architecture) and my ability to write a good essay. Personally, I think it would be good for you to take classes at night (or in the day if you can do it) so that you ('a') get back into art and build good relationships with professors, and ('b'), most importantly, get back into the academic environment so that you are not shocked when you first attend a lecture and get the syllabus in the masters program.
I know for I gave up a profitable career in order to follow the career within which I was truly interested. It's hard. It's hard mostly because there is generally lack of emotional support from others--people don't like change, especially in their friends or relatives, so they do things subconsiously many times to keep you where you are--unintentionally though. I had to take a crap job in the day time to survive in San Francisco (as a secretary in bad places and sometimes good places), and I chose not to take the bar because that brings in so many more economic handcuffs (well, it was circumstasnce that determined that). So, I've been taking 3 and sometimes 4 classes at night after work 5 pm. for a while--looking at the light the end of the tunnel, distant on the horizon. But, the classes got me more involved, and while I droned away at work, I lived for the classes at night. The kept me focused on my purpose--to learn and then apply. The classes introduced me to new ideas and new ways of thinking. And, most importantly, I got really good letters of recommendation from great people who I would otherwise not have had, YEARS after I obtained my undergraduate degree. They would know that my focus and determination were not a fraud.
Also, while my night classes and full-time work did not allow me to build up a portfolio like I would have liked, I WAS able to build up a portfolio. Since you're going to go into a MFA program, I highly HIGHLY recommend you take printmaking or similar classes to not only show your enthusiasm but to build a portfolio. You will not only build a portfolio but you can ask your professors to look at your portfolio to get a good feel about it. (Studio time at night is generally figure drawings classes and print classes, not the architectural drafting classes that I truly needed to get into graduate school.... however, you know what? I'm going to Georgia Tech this fall, if I ever find out the loan information, he he). I would also recommend that when you're building your portfolio you go to a good school (as close as possible) and check out the portfolios that have been submitted by other applicants. I didn't. But, if I had, my portfolio would have been far more stellar because I could easily do what they did, and better. I just didn't think about it until I didn't have the time. But on the good side, the difference I think between you and I and other "yung'ens" who get into the same programs is that we know we have 'limited time'. We are there to do great, and get out and then make a name for ourselves. Though I had lots of starts and stops at the city college, I racked up enough classes. And you know what? I was able to get straight 4.0 in the architectural classes that I took, all like 20 of them, along with the other classes that I took.
I understand what you're going through, but believe me when I tell you that the hardest thing you have to change is mindset. You HAVE to believe in yourself and your determination will take you anywhere. I'm serious. I'm not being cliche'. Most people give up. Most people don't show up. Show up. Be in class. Talk to professors. Become the star of the class. Do not be ashamed. Make a point to embarass yourself constantly. Make a point to yell out the wrong answer. It helps people laugh. It also makes it easier for you to yell out when you know the right answer. It's easier the next time. Determine yourself to do it. Take as many night classes that you feasibly can. This gets your recommendations and good portfolio pieces. The portfolio pieces can be used in your application. Also, I would also encourage you to take five classes regardless of your printmaking and art skills: general math, geometry, trigonometry, algebra and advanced algebra. You do not need more math on the GRE but these classes in the quantative section, but you need it to be fresh in your mind. (What I didn't do.) I would take the last algebra class as close to the final GRE that you take, but before you start taking the GRE class (because they're lots of algebra on the GRE, and you'll be wasting your money for the class). You need the math fresh in your mind. Do not just get As in the math classes. Study to get As in the class and ace the GRE. (My algebra class was like 4 years before I took the GRE, a big mistake on my part, though not critical.)
From what I see in all the crap that people spew about their GPAs and this and that on this site or others, it's only to make others feel worse. In reality, it's bunk, and they're mainly just self-conscious about their standing with other academics--and they have to compete against something. In reality, a high gpa only means that you were lucky and you were in the right program for you. (When I was in law school, I kept having to read the same paragraphs over and over, and I was bored out of my mind, and I couldn't stand anyone, and they bored me, blah, blah, blah. It was because I was bored with the topic. I did well mind you, but only because I had to put in 3 times the effort that everyone else did, and then become really depressed in the process.) If you are interested in what you are doing (I mean really interested), it will soak in easier. You'll learn like white sponge in cola turning brown. It will still be hard, but time will pass far more pleasantly. If you get into a program that you like, you'll get good grades because you'll spend the time--you'll invest the time--to get better grades. The 'causes' that you plant in yoru present fruit with 'results' that either benefit your future or negatively impact your future. However, let's be honest, the graduate school will look at mainly the last 2 years of your gpa. However, depending on your program they might take into consideration the later classes that you take after you obtain your undergraduate degree. Some won't. Focus on the ones that put you in the best light. But, I doubt that it's the main factor given the incredible portfolio that you will have for the arts program. Let's face it. Mainly scientific and brainy programs focus on grades in their discipline. People who are interested in science or some programs take a lot of them, but they would fail in any art class. Art programs focus on classes in their disicipline also, but their discipline is art and so its more representative than quantitive numbers.
Another thing you'll need to overcome is GRE fear. My recommendation, take a class, and do stellar in the class. In contrast to what I did, take the class about a year in advance (not just before). Take the class (I reiterate) and then take it again right before the exam. However, after you take it the first time, you ABSOLUTELY need to take the GRE to get a FEEL of the exam, and then immediately cancel it. I was scoring 730 v/780q on the exam in the class and then freaked out because I've always feared tests (because it mattered), and my grade dropped. I didn't believe I deserved 730/780, and I created a self-perpetuating effect. (Minorities, gays and women somettimes do this a lot...because we only have to look society as represented in the t.v. and news to hear how 'stupid' we are, how 'fat' we look, and how someone else 'deserves' something more. It seems that we are the only ones who really question where we belong, and do we belong in some programs. Regardless of how much a jerk someone else will be to us, we have already said the same thing 10 times to ourselves before they've opened their mouths. We are almost always our worst critics.) I was nothing short than devastated, even though I got a good grade and a very good score on the writing section. Little did I know that even with the drop, I was better or the same as almost every other candidate who got into a top 5 program in architecture--it was just that my portfolio sucked. Like, it was as if I put pictures in a garbage back and threw it over a fence for people to rummage through. Maybe the raccoons went through it, I have no freaking idea. Granted, I still did come out with high GRE scores, and a good portfolio apparently. But my momentary lapse of personal forgiveness kept me from getting the best score I possibly could. This will not happen to you because you will believe in yourself.
Spend the money to believe in yourself and that you can take the timed test. I know it's expensive, but you're spending the money on yourself. It will set you back about $2,000 for the classes, but do it. Seriously. I had to get on my feet from almost being on the street, and then pay off $26K in credit cards when I left law school, and take secretarial jobs because no one would hire me, then eventually pay off all my debt, then finally get a job that would help me live on my own in SF, which allowed me to pay for the night class, and then finally be able to take the GRE class. But, you must do it. [Personally, I recommend Kaplan's Online class, but that's because i could do it at home religiously like I was taking a class over the summer. Also, I tried taking the in-class programs, and I would always have to quit half-way through my temp jobs at the time got in the way or something. Take the on-line class if you can. Make it as easy as possible.] Then, you're going to kill me, but before you take the GRE that you want to SCORE, take the class a second time and then, since you've already been under the time crunch and since you've already seen the hell that the computer test puts you in, you'll JAM. You really will. It's important that you have a righteous belief in your ability to not only compete with other but to succeed where others fail. Others fail because they see failure in their own selves. You will not. Because failure is only a belief in your own sense of lack--a lack that has no reality and is only based on fear. You MUST get over the fear. Don't fear the 20 year old who'll get into grad school and then piss their mommy and daddy's house away. Be indominable, be strong, know yourself, follow your heart and mind. But, at the same time, when you succed, and when you get the high gpa, and when you get into the program, don't be a jerk about it. Make sure you help someone else succeed too. Help another person to believe in him or herself.
But for you.... Do it. Don't just talk about it. Prove everyone except that voice inside you wrong.
Send me an e-mail if you need any other advice, even if you think what I said is bullcrap.
I was playing around with a new browser and noticed that the site load speed was terrible. This was most noticeable if you were browsing the site when not logged in, I have just fixed this, so things should be a bit faster especially for guests! Sorry about that :-)
One sunny day, a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine weather. The day was so nice that she became careless and a fox snuck up behind her and caught her.
"I am going to eat you for lunch!" said the fox. "Wait!" replied the rabbit," You should at least wait a few days."
"Oh yeah? Why should I wait?"
"Well, I am just finishing my dissertation on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'"
"Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everyone knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit."
"Not according to my research. If you like, you can come into my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and eat me for lunch."
"You really are crazy!" said the fox, but since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went into the hole with the rabbit.
The fox never came out.
A few days later, the rabbit was again taking a break from writing when a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to set upon her.
"Wait!" yelled the rabbit," You can't eat me right now."
"And why might that be, my furry appetizer?" said the wolf.
"I am almost finished with my dissertation on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'"
The wolf laughed so hard he almost let go of the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn't eat you--you really are sick in the head! You might have something contagious."
"Come and read it for yourself, you can eat me afterwards if you disagree with my conclusions."
So the wolf went down into the rabbit's hole...and never came out.
The rabbit finished her dissertation and was out celebrating in the local lettuce patch.
Another rabbit came along and asked, "What's up? You seem very happy."
"Yup, I just finished my dissertation."
"Congratulations! What's it about?"
"'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'"
"No way! That can't be right."
"Oh, but it is. Come and read it for yourself."
So the two rabbits went down into the rabbit hole. As they entered, the friend saw the typical graduate abode. A computer with the controversial work was in one corner surrounded by discarded papers. And on one side of the room there was a pile of fox bones, while on the other side there was a pile of wolf bones. And in the center, there was a large, well-fed lion.
The moral of the story:
The title of your dissertation doesn't matter. The subject doesn't matter. The research doesn't matter. All that matters is who your advisor is.
(from http://www.chat.carleton.ca/~jnoakes/grad.html, where you'll find many other gems)
It's all about coming up with a routine and sticking to it. For me, that meant signing up for a fitness class that I enjoy (capoeira) that meets twice a week for two hours. I also try to go one additional time per week but usually don't make it because it's on a drop-in basis so I haven't lost the money yet if I don't go. I find exercise to be more sustainable than something like Weight Watchers...