Time for another post about my creative "journey" (I apologize for using that word since it has been completely ruined by The Bachelor). I started writing a post about my first job after college before realizing that I had completely skipped over one of the most annoying parts of the whole thing. The dreaded BA (Bachelor of Arts) vs. BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) decision. This may in fact be the most boring discussion ever to non-designers, but it was such a huge deal when I was in school!
I think most universities don't even have these options, but when I was at BYU this was the process: Step 1: Apply to your specific program (ie. studio, illustration, design). If you get in, Step 2: Take a year of general art classes with students from all areas. Step 3: Take 100-level design courses. Step 4: Apply to the BFA program. If you get in Step 5: Take about two more years of higher-level classes. If you don't get in, Step 5: Take about 1 more year of higher-level classes, with fewer options. Step 6: Graduate!
This framework is great for someone who rolls in as a Freshman with their life all planned out, but as I mentioned in Part 1, I didn't apply to the program until I was a Junior, which meant I didn't start taking classes until my Senior Year. Since that first year was full of general art classes, I stayed for summer school and packed in as many 100-level design classes as I could. The BFA application only took place once a year, so even though I wasn't prepared at all, I decided to apply anyway. I think that was in August, but now I can't remember, which just goes to show how much this didn't actually matter AT ALL.
I didn't get in. Duh. So I spent the next 7 months or so taking as many higher level classes as I could and wrestling with whether or not I should apply again, feeling pretty confident that I could get in. I felt like all the rhetoric around me from teachers and current BFA students was that the BFA was everything and if I didn't do it, I would be so far behind that I would never catch up in my career. It was SO stressful then, but ultimately I couldn't rationalize being in school for SEVEN years for a design degree. In the end, I, and a handful of people in my same position, grabbed our BA's and ran!
And guess what, not one single person has ever asked me where the "F" is in my BA. Instead, I went out and got some jobs (more on that later) and learned waaaay more than I would have by staying in school for two more years. My student portfolio wasn't nearly as developed or professional, but I found that when looking for my second job, no one wanted to see those made up pieces from school anyway.
This is all to say that I do wish I had started the process as a Freshman or Sophomore so I would have had time to do the BFA. I would have been able to learn so much more in that school incubator! (I have regrets, I HATE the phrase "no regrets". We should want to change how we did things, BUT acknowledge that the imperfect things shape us and make the future so much better. I could go on, but I'll get off my soapbox.) But in the end, it was just a huge lesson to me that: 1. We make a big deal out of a lot of things that really aren't a big deal and 2. Everyone has their own path to success.
I still have to remind myself of both of those things most days.