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Reinforcements

October 25, 2010

If you’ve been reading, thank you. The MFA journey is a topsy turvy one, and it’s filled with highs and lows and suprises and head-scratchers and plenty of long, deep sighs.

Which got me thinking. Is it like that everywhere? How is my experience compared to others?

One of the things that I disliked most about investigating grad schools was the complete and total inability to really get a true sampling of all the best programs in the country. Yeah, for your program to end up in a top-ten list is great and all (as mine has), but I find these rankings totally and completely questionable. First, if you’re putting one together, that means you’ve done a thorough analysis of all the programs, facilities, faculty, and adjoining theater, if applicable, which means you’ve visited at least all of the top ten programs on your list. Beyond that, I’d say you have to visit at least ten more and do the same research, so you may actually find who the top ten is, correct? And beyond that, how are you going to determine what the top 20 programs are in the first place? Rumors? Reputations? A complete investigation of the success of the graduates? It ain’t difficult to guess that anyone putting together a “top ten graduate program” list hasn’t done any of this, and has probably strewn together the list based on a few achievements they’ve heard about, plus general reputation.

So, what’s an aspiring grad student supposed to do? They can visit dozens of programs, meet the faculty, and speak to students, and ultimately try to find the program that aligns most with their goals – costing them weeks of time and thousands of dollars. More realistically, though, they usually visit a few, research many, and then begin more in-depth research of an institution once the school expresses interest in them. In either scenario, it’s a bit of a toss up. A lot of it is feeling. In my case, I made a list of absolute musts for my graduate experience, and when a school came to me and checked off every one of them, the decision became easy.

Back to the original question. How then, are we really able to shop around at programs in a more efficient way? I’m lucky to be here, and I feel extremely fortunate to find a program that works with my personality, goals and experiences as an actor. I’m not so sure every student winds up with such an experience.

So, I’ve decided to take us where top-ten lists and reputations can’t.

I’ve enlisted the help of first year MFA students from some very fine programs around the country. They are going to share their experiences, talk about their programs, and generally, give this blog an undeniable boost by fleshing out the variety of perspectives.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to my guest bloggers (with more possibly on the way):

 

 Benjamin T. Koucherik
1st Year MFA, LSU’s Professional Actor Training Program (connected to Baton Rouge’s Swine Palace Theatre)

 Megan Rippey
1st Year MFA, California Institute of the Arts

 
Peter Kendall
1st year MFA, Brown University/Trinity Rep

 

And now comes the fun part:

They’ll be providing some insight about their programs and experiences, but this experiment will be about 20 times more interesting and rewarding if you let us know what you’re most curious about. Are you an actor? A friend? An MFA hopeful? An MFA grad? A curious bystander? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you. Post a comment, shoot me an email. Whatever it is, I’ll make sure they get it and we all answer it. In the meantime, they’ll each be writing full entries as time and schedule allow. Check back now and again, it won’t all happen at once.

Fire away. [brendanragan (at) gmail (dot) com]

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 6:27 pm

    This is brilliant.

    I’m going to email you.

    But I just wanted this on record that I approve of this idea and appreciate your efforts.

    – Tim

  2. October 26, 2010 6:55 pm

    Awesome, Tim, thanks. Glad to have you.

    If anything strikes you, don’t hesitate to ask.

  3. Danny Jones permalink
    November 4, 2010 6:26 pm

    Really great idea Brendan. I cant wait to see what they have to say.

  4. January 13, 2011 9:42 am

    Excited to read this! Thanks guys!!

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