Thinking About an MFA

I’m pretty sure that ultimately, at some point in my life, I’m going to go through grad school again and get an MFA. It’s the degree I wanted in the first place, I just couldn’t justify the expense and the huge risk of not being able to find a job while my husband was really sick and needed health insurance. So I made some sacrifices that at the time made absolute sense to me. I went back to school to get my teaching license and get a Masters in another field that I’m passionate about: Educational Technology. I thought I’d be able to at least make enough to get us on more stable ground financially and be able to at least make life a little more creative and interesting for some of the kids in my future classrooms. I do genuinely love teaching. Anyone who saw me work at MHS East or at the MAC for MXTW could see that. Unfortunately, my car is completely unreliable now and K-State isn’t flexible when it comes to not having a car for the student teaching semesters. Both were very rude surprises this semester. So I had to postpone my student teaching for a year.

To make matters worse, the two undergrad level art courses I took in the previous two semesters really just make me want to get my MFA. The classes were actually challenging and engaging, which is more than I can say for most of the education classes I’ve had to take. I also feel out of place when I’m in my education classes, like that is not a good fit for me. At KU I was just another art student and I could talk freely with my peers about all sorts of things. Our critiques were filled with people talking about stuff. It’s not like that here. People are much more reserved, like they are afraid to talk or have opinions about things. I stand out a lot more both in my level of participation and how I dress. I feel like some of my peers think I’m a pretentious show-off and I’m not. I have a wide knowledge base, but I only call on it when it’s relevant to the discussion. Besides, how is knowing about things or being able to draw logical conclusions about something bad? I never had a moment at KU where someone flat out asked me, while looking at me like I was a space alien, “Why do you know that?” Being able to recall facts does not in anyway make me exceptional. At other times I just feel very big fish in little pond and I hate that. I want to grow as a person, I want to be learning things, and it’s starting to feel like my time at K-State is just going through the motions to get a $60,000 piece of paper.

My husband is also no longer having severe health problems, and due to the ACA, he finally has insurance through his employer where he’s been working full-time for over a year. Not that that’s a solid gig though. He was not supposed to have a job this school year, because of budget cuts, but his bosses fought for him to stay, because having someone who’s as tech savvy as he is is a great asset to a school. So, nothing is definite for us, and when your basic things like employment are shaky, it’s pretty stressful.

Which brings be back to the MFA and my own intellectual restlessness. I like a lot of the professors in K-State’s art department. They’ve really improved the facilities since I first attended in 2005. K-State’s art department even offers a decent stipend and an almost guaranteed GTA position the first year, so I’ll get the necessary teaching experience that’s required if you want to go on to be a professor. That’s all really great, but I want to get the hell out of Kansas. I’ve lived here my whole life, and there just aren’t the opportunities here that I need, not to mention the current political situation is an utter mess, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The 2014 election here was a wake-up call for me and my husband. It’s really expensive and shitty to be poor in Kansas, and there aren’t many opportunities for people with our skillsets. Skillsets which are highly valued (or at least employable) elsewhere. There are lots of good people in Kansas, and cool places, but it’s hard to live here when you know it could be better elsewhere.

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