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All Things Queens – The Bruce Springsteen of Queens: Graduate School in the Arts: Financial Suicide? It Shouldn’t Be.

Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 3:15 pm by Nathan in Cultural Bees. More in

The Boss

41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots….
and we’ll take that ride
‘cross this bloody river
to the other side

(Above FROM American Skin)

“Slow down. It’s not that big a deal,” a cop told the scruffy man.

“Not that big a deal?” he grunts.

Horns HONK. The crowd below SCREAMS. Emotionless, the man hangs with one hand from the Empire State Building.

“It’s debt, just a piece of paper that says you owe another person money!” the cop pleads, desperate.

“That’s easy for you to say. How much do you owe?”

“My wife owes about $12,000 on credit cards. You can’t be much worse than that.”

“One — hundred — thousand — dollars.”

“Risky get-rich quick venture?”

“Yeah, you could say that.” And he smiles. Then without a word he lets go.

Everything in the cops head goes quiet. He notices a piece of paper stabbed onto the jagged spear. It reads, “New York University, Master of the Arts, 2004.”

Look, I’m not saying that college is good, bad, awesome, shitty… I am very glad I did it. I am a better person, a more developed artist, will be better in the long run because I will always know exactly what I want creatively. All I’m saying is that maybe there should be a system of preparation for what you’re dealing with when you go to school, especially graduate school where there are fewer scholarships. Like, for example, if you get a degree in acting, screenwriting, painting, creative writing, etc., there should be “So you’re in a shitload of debt with little chance of over $30,000 income but this is why you shouldn’t kill yourself” class, career placement programs and “So you’re not doing your dream job, but here’s a job you can work during the meanwhile” programs.

This is not the same situation that happens with doctors, lawyers and architects. They have true job placement after college. And they make real money that can pay off this debt while they drive a Benz or a Beamer. I’m not saying it’s easier for them, but I will say the odds of success are more in their favor.

On top of that, it is a crime that these institutions are able to charge such high tuition for career paths that will on average make you less than $30,000 dollars per year. Then, on top of the tuition, if you live in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, which for many artists, the experts say, “You just have to do it there! There’s no substitute!” there is a high cost of living; I pay $836 per month on rent and that’s low. And there have been cases of students killing themselves over mounds of student debt. Probably more than we think. I am not blaming schools or lenders. I am just asking for everyone to work for a better solution.

Lena gets her son ready for school
She says “on these streets, Charles
You’ve got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you
Promise me you’ll always be polite,
that you’ll never ever run away
Promise Mama you’ll keep your hands in sight”

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret
It ain’t no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in
Your American skin

I am $100,000 dollars in debt. It ain’t no secret. It ain’t no secret. Has the thought ever crossed my mind? Humbly and candidly, I say yes. There, I said it.

Thoughts? Questions? I don’t have the answers, but I know the system doesn’t quite work. Feel free to forward to college boards and deans.

The Bruce Springsteen of Queens.

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