Grad School?

dminor13

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Jan 2, 2007
Hey guys, I'm a theater Major in my sophmore year right now and i was tossing around the idea of going to grad school for stage lighting. I was wondering if anyone new of any grad schools with a good program. I currently live in New Jersey and would like to stay somewhat close by.
 

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Yale... The question you need to ask yourself is, do I feel like paying for school or not. There are plenty of universities out there that offer to pay for your grad school with a stipend in exchange for TA and grad assistant work. There are a ton of great schools in your area. If you have the cash, the world is your oyster, if you don't, then you might need to do some traveling.
 

dminor13

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Jan 2, 2007
yeah I'd need to do some grad work I can't afford grad school at full price. I heard something about apprenticeships or something where the school pays for you if you work for them.
 

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Most do, just not yale. Odds are, no matter what, you can get a full ride somewhere. If you have good design work, you will get to pick and choose, if not, you might be in the middle of Montana (Just an example, not knocking any university there). Really, your best bet is to go to USITT next year (I think its in houston) and start talking to the schools there. There are plenty of great schools out there that would love to have you, as long as you teach a class or two and do some show work. The life of a grad assistant is full of long days a little money, but in the end hopefully you have gained a good education, expanded your portfolio, and made some good contacts.
 

SHARYNF

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Are you interested in a career in teaching or actual LD? IMO you are far better getting more practical real world show experience first, then later going back for an advanced degree.

Sharyn
 

dminor13

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Jan 2, 2007
You said if you have good design work you would be able to pick and choose. How do you keep records of that to show people. Is it lighting Plots that you would show or is it pictures or video or something??
 

gafftaper

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Are you interested in a career in teaching or actual LD? IMO you are far better getting more practical real world show experience first, then later going back for an advanced degree.
Sharyn
Some of the mucky mucks at the college have suggested we look into creating a theater technician certification program. While this sounds like a good idea, I was concerned about how useful this certificate would be in the real world. I spent a lot of time talking with a variety of local theater professionals about the necessity of getting some sort of certification or a degree. I was stunned to find in my unscientific study that half the full time technicians I talked to, including the T.D. at one of the largest theaters on the west coast, don't have a masters degree. Furthermore probably a quarter of the people I talked to don't have a theater degree at all.

I am a strong believer in the value of education, but it's clear that you don't have to get a grad degree to be a professional designer. The quality of your work, you personality, who you know, and a little bit of luck all seem to be equally important as the piece of paper hanging on your wall. So, my advice is if you believe that grad school is the best way for you (and you can afford it without getting yourself deeply into debt) go for it. But don't pursue the degree because you think you have to or because you think it will give you an edge over those who don't have a degree. Dumb luck and who you know is just as powerful factor as having a masters degree.
 

gafftaper

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This is about the certificate that anyone cares about right now..
http://etcp.esta.org/
Yeah, I had a long talk with "the powers that be" explaining that in order to be a stage hand you don't need any sort of license or even any formal training in particular. Because of that I don't see that a college declaring you a certified stage hand is going to do any real good. It's far more important to be a hard worker, get on the list (if you want to go the IATSE route), and then just meet lots of people and work work work. The only certification that has any real importance is that rigging certification. And as has been pointed out in the past that's a bit of a mess too... because for everyone "certified" rigger there are at least 10 more who are far more experienced and knowledgeable and are too busy making money to waste their time taking the test.
 
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SHARYNF

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I have no problem with additional education and degrees and certifications, having my own collection of advanced degrees, BUT I do think that there needs to be a careful balance, and that there are some programs that tend to over sell the value of the certificate or the program. It is certainly worthwhile to have the theory and the formalized programs, but it is easy to have programs that really lack currency of techniques, don't have instructors with extensive real world experience, and over sell to the students just what level job they are practically going to get right out of the program.

Sharyn
 

gafftaper

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I have no problem with additional education and degrees and certifications, having my own collection of advanced degrees, BUT I do think that there needs to be a careful balance, and that there are some programs that tend to over sell the value of the certificate or the program. It is certainly worthwhile to have the theory and the formalized programs, but it is easy to have programs that really lack currency of techniques, don't have instructors with extensive real world experience, and over sell to the students just what level job they are practically going to get right out of the program.
Sharyn
That's exactly what I'm saying Sharyn... education is a good thing. Theory for a designer is a great thing... just don't think the degree is the only way or that it will guarantee you better work and pay than someone with no degree. That just isn't true.

Secondly, spending a lot of money getting yourself deep into debt for a theater degree is financially VERY unwise. If you have the money in the family and can get the degree without the massive student loans GREAT, go for it. I worry about the person who doesn't have the money and racks up $20k-$30k in loans. You are VERY unlikely to get out of school and make the kind of money you need to live and pay back loans that large.